Volunteering: Improve Your Well-being AND That of the Ones You Serve

Volunteers support meaningful work at no cost to those being served. There are noticeable gains on the receiving end, and it usually makes a volunteer feel good on the giving side. Moreso, science shows that volunteering has additional value for the charitable side.

There are mental benefits from doing good, like confidence when you know you are making a difference. There are unexpected physical benefits, as well. Here are just five of the many ways that volunteering is proven to be advantageous for your health1:

  • Decreases risks of depression and anxiety
  • Releases endorphins, which make you feel happier
  • Improves activity levels and overall physical health
  • Reduces stress through a renewed sense of purpose
  • Lowers blood pressure

The combined effect of these health benefits shows that volunteering strengthens your overall well-being. So maybe it’s not surprising to note that volunteering can also extend your life. “Researchers say that people over 50 years old who volunteer for about two hours weekly have a considerably lower risk of death.” 2

Do good. Live longer. It sounds great, but it takes time, and time is a resource that we often lack. So here’s the irony—studies3 also show that your time feels meaningful when you share your time with others. In response, you feel like you have more time and more time to give.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Please consider sharing your time with Henrico CASA to help improve the well-being of local children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Last year, Henrico CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates, Inc.) served 385 children and teens whose families were in crisis. Judges in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court-appointed volunteer CASAs for each of these children. CASAs spoke up for these children, working with County employees in court and the community, promoting the children’s well-being, and establishing a network of supportive connections.

Connecting with Henrico CASA is yet another way for Henrico employees to work to better our community. Advocates are everyday people who leverage the many services our county offers to work towards ensuring every child has a safe, healthy, and loving home. To learn more about volunteering with CASA, visit www.HenricoCASA.org.

[1] SummaHealth

2 StudyFinds

3 Stanford.edu

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Advocating for the Aging Community in Henrico

The Henrico County Advocate for the Aging was established in 2017 to assist in fulfilling the needs of Henrico County’s aging population. In July 2021, the Advocate for the Aging position was moved from the Department of Human Resources to the Division of Fire to make the role more accessible for the community. Since then, the office has continued to serve older adults by providing information and referral services, developing programs and community events, and serving as the subject matter expert on aging-related issues within the Henrico County Government.

The new Advocate for the Aging, Emily Atkinson, MPH, CHES, was hired that same month and quickly got to work serving the residents of Henrico County. In this position, Emily has helped over 300 residents through information and referral services and aided over 600 residents through programming and community events. When residents call Emily, she quickly gets to work deciphering which resource or services would be the best fit for their particular situation. She knows that not all cases are identical, and each individual who calls receives unique and tailored advice.

The Advocate for the Aging office has attempted to strengthen community programming through purposeful and targeted program development that genuinely meets the needs and wants of the senior population in Henrico County. Since July 2021, programs have included:  a “Navigating Senior Services” Library Tour, a Senior Safety Day, a Falls Prevention Fall Festival, a Caregiver Lunch and Learn Series, a Holiday Party, a Winter Emergency Preparedness Day, an Intergenerational Valentine’s Day Party, a Healthy Heart Seminar, and the Annual Senior and Caregiver Expo.

The Advocate for the Aging Office has also revamped the Henrico Ambassador Program for Seniors (HAPS) by transitioning the program from an annual event into a club for seniors that meets monthly. The new HAPS program serves as an opportunity for older Henrico residents to become ambassadors for their communities. These ambassadors attend monthly meetings, learn about available resources in the Henrico community, distribute information on resources and services to other community members, and give feedback on aging services in Henrico County. HAPS meetings occur the third Wednesday of each month from 10 am – 11 am and rotate between each area library every month to make attendance accessible across the county.

Next month, the Advocate for the Aging Office will have a Brain Health and You! Conference for older adults and their caregivers on April 19, 2022, at the Deep Run Recreation Center from 10 am – 1 pm. There will be educational presentations in the morning, and then the event will transition into a vendor fair with resources for seniors related to dementia prevention and dementia care. Presenters will include individuals from the Alzheimer’s Association and Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU Gerontology will also be offering brain health screenings at the event to see if individuals are at-risk for cognitive decline.


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Reasons Why You Should Participate in The County’s Employee Fitness and Wellness Programs

We see on television, social media, newspapers, and magazines the importance of creating habits to achieve fitness and wellness goals. The results of one person’s efforts often leave us in awe. Do you ever wonder, “can I do this too”? With consistency and the help of like-minded folks, results are possible for everyone!

Challenging yourself is good so check out our Fitness and Wellness programs on our SharePoint site. Here are a few snapshots of some of the great people and activities Fitness and Wellness offers:

Being competitive with others and yourself is healthy. Creating goals and challenging your body and mind are positive tasks. When you commit to a fitness program, you commit to making a goal and achieving it. By participating in an at-work fitness challenge, you receive guidance and coaching similar to having a personal trainer. You receive help setting up a routine to workout, eat healthily, lose weight, get more sleep, and find work/life balance. By placing your health at the top of your priority list, you develop healthy lifestyle habits. When you form new habits, you feel better and enjoy additional positive rewards like feeling stronger, fitting into smaller clothing sizes, and having more energy.

You’ll have a support group.

With all programs and services offered through the Fitness & Wellness Division, you have access to a community that is making changes alongside you. The camaraderie you experience helps you stay motivated by knowing you are not alone. Knowing you can do it with a support group enables you to keep on track and encourages your growth and learning while sticking to a new healthy lifestyle routine.

Results happen.

If you stick to the new challenge and commit to change, results will happen. Whatever your goal is, you can reach it if you challenge yourself. So don’t hesitate anymore; you can do this!

Find a Fitness & Wellness challenge that works for you and join in today!

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2022 Public Safety Games- Save the Dates

In 2012, the County began a friendly, fitness competition between the Henrico Police Division, Henrico Division of Fire, and the Henrico Sheriff’s Office and commenced for the first time as the ‘Public Safety Games’ (PSG) hosted by the Fitness & Wellness (F&W) Division of the Department of Human Resources. Since its inception, five successful PSGs have transpired, along with steady growth in popularity, competitiveness, and enthusiasm. Currently, the Division of Fire has three wins, the Sheriff’s Office has one win, and Police Division has one win. 

The battle for the throne of the “Fittest Public Safety Division” of the year has become an excellent way to compel our Public Safety members to improve individual fitness performance. The overall aim of the competition has been to provide different, fun, yet challenging events to test the athletes’ endurance, work capacity, and strength, culminating in the Final Obstacle Course Event. 

2022 is the 6th Anniversary of the Public Safety Games and this year’s Battle for the Throne of “Fittest Public Safety Division” will be the most thrilling of all. New this year, the Public Safety Division with the most accumulated points throughout all events will be declared the winner. Therefore, participation is more crucial than ever before. This year’s competitions will kick off on Friday, May 6, as an all-employee “civilian day” with fun and social challenges. Employees who choose to participate can gain one point toward the division they of their choice. The main competitions will ensue in the weeks following: The Endurance Event, The Work Capacity Event, The Relative Strength Event, and then the Final Team Obstacle Course held on Friday, June 3. Individual competitors can participate in one or more of their chosen events, and each event will recognize its winner. Team competitors will partake as a pair in all events, with only the top teams from each division invited to the Final Obstacle Course. The accumulated total points from each competition (all individual, team, and mini) will determine who is the Fittest Public Safety Division of the year. Anyone of any age and fitness level has an opportunity to contribute to their division’s point totals!

More event details are coming soon on the Fitness and Wellness SharePoint site.

If you are interested in participating in any of the events, including the All-Employee Kick-Off Event, individual events, team events, or mini-events, please email us at [email protected].

Don’t forget to check out our video overview of the 5th Anniversary Public Safety Games Final Event in 2019 on YouTube!

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