Service Saturdays: Stay healthy and help the community by volunteering at MetroParks

Five Rivers MetroParks volunteers make a difference on Service Saturdays - Contributed
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Five Rivers MetroParks volunteers make a difference on Service Saturdays - Contributed

Doing good for the community can also be good for your health.

Volunteering has been shown to provide physical and mental health benefits including greater life satisfaction and self-esteem and decreased stress levels. Data from the Longitudinal Study of Aging showed that individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when controlling for age, gender and physical health.

There are plenty of opportunities to work up a sweat and do service at Five Rivers MetroParks Service Saturdays. On the third Saturday of the month in September and October, and starting up again in April 2022, there are a variety of ways to support various projects throughout the park system. From invasive plant removal to trail clearing, Service Saturdays are about making a difference.

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“Volunteers at MetroParks make a difference every day helping us protect the region’s natural heritage and provide outdoor experiences that inspire a personal connection with nature,” said Jenny Hymans, Five River MetroParks human resources manager of volunteer services. “Each of these service opportunities will be led by our dedicated staff and will make a direct impact in our parks.”

Service Saturdays are the perfect time to volunteer for Five Rivers MetroParks - Contributed
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Service Saturdays are the perfect time to volunteer for Five Rivers MetroParks - Contributed

The MetroParks have long provided opportunities for volunteers, but the addition of the designated Saturday morning sessions opens the door to even more able and willing helpers.

“This initiative is an opportunity for us to reach those in the community looking for opportunities to support our parks who may not be available during the week when our typical volunteer opportunities are offered,” Hymans said.

A variety of projects will be available each month throughout the parks and conservation areas.

“Opportunities will be available for teen volunteers, youth and family volunteers, adults, and groups,” Hymans said.

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For students in need of documented service, MetroParks staff members can sign off on student hours at the site and volunteer services can also verify student hours. Volunteers are asked to sign up in advance for each service opportunity they choose to participate in.

To learn more about Service Saturdays as well as other volunteer opportunities in the MetroParks, visit www.metroparks.org/volunteer or call 937-275-7275 (PARK).

Volunteers of all ages make a difference at the Five Rivers MetroParks Service Saturdays. CONTRIBUTED
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Volunteers of all ages make a difference at the Five Rivers MetroParks Service Saturdays. CONTRIBUTED

Health benefits of volunteering

1. Volunteering decreases the risk of depression.

2. Volunteering gives a sense of purpose and teaches valuable skills.

3. Volunteering helps people stay physically and mentally active.

4. Volunteering may reduce stress levels.

5. Volunteering may help you live longer.

6. Volunteering helps you meet others and develop new relationships.

Information from Mayo Clinic Health System.

Contact this contributing writer at djuniewicz@gmail.com.