Make volunteering your New Year’s resolution and discover ways to help in Southern Utah

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FEATURE — The good news: somehow, we all survived the holidays. The bad news: a fair number of us are feeling some level of post-craziness lethargy. 

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With the nonstop barrage of messages telling us that we all ought to visit family, serve eight-course gourmet meals, decorate our homes perfectly, throw parties, have fun – and most importantly, buy, buy, buy! – it was enough for the most grounded of us to feel like we were losing it. 

For seniors, such feelings are often amplified as the days grow shorter. While the rest of the world might appear to be bathed in cozy Hallmark joy, older adults’ awareness of increasing physical limitations, separation from families, loss of a spouse or loved one, worries about finances and just plain loneliness can become overwhelming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “older adults are at an increased risk for experiencing depression,” and depression is “more common in people who also have other illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer), or whose function becomes limited.”

So… what to do when the post-holiday blues set in? Though the “season of giving” ostensibly has passed, one of the most surefire ways to beat those blues is to get out of the house and give of yourself. In the greater St. George area in particular, there are countless ways to volunteer. And in the process, you’re bound to feel your sagging spirits soar.

Abundant research supports the notion that when you give a little, you get back a lot, both mentally and physically. In a landmark study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, a trio of scientists reported that “high volunteers” (those who work with two or more organizations) had “63% lower mortality than non-volunteers,” and that volunteerism “is associated with fewer strokes, less shortness of breath and improved self-rated health and life satisfaction.” 

A number of other studies, including one conducted by the University of Maryland Medical System, also suggest that the act of volunteering may benefit your health and wellness. Researchers found that those who volunteer on a regular basis had a broader social network, enhanced mental well-being, higher happiness levels, longer life span, lower blood pressure and greater stress relief.

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Fortunately, we live in a state that largely understands the importance of volunteering: Utah holds the top spot in the United States for the highest rate of volunteerism (51%), according to a study released by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. A tip of the hat to all of the good souls who’ve helped Utah maintain that ranking for over 13 years straight!

Of course, even if you’ve made the decision to give back to your community in some fashion, it can be daunting trying to decide just where to direct your energies. My advice: find a charity or a cause that’s aligned with your personal passions, and your “work” will be virtually effortless.

Are you a lifelong animal lover? The good folks at P.A.W.S., Best Friends or the Humane Society would love to hear from you. Are the arts more your passion? Consider becoming a docent at the St. George Art Museum, introducing local schoolchildren to our gorgeous outdoor sculptures through Art Around the Corner, tying on your apron to craft/paint scenery at the Stage Door Theater Company or St. George Musical Theater, or getting involved with any of our other outstanding performing arts groups. Do you enjoy writing? Give your favorite club a call and offer to contribute content to or edit their newsletter or website. 

One of the easiest ways to get involved is to join one of the many service organizations in St. George, such as the Elks Club, Lions Club, Rotary Club, Exchange Club, Assistance League and others. Your local place of worship is another terrific option for checking out volunteer opportunities. An online search of will yield dozens of places and ways those of any age or level of experience can make a difference in their community and throughout the world. 

Still not sure where to start? United Way Dixie serves as a clearing house for more than a dozen nonprofit partner agencies that provide scores of human service programs to assist local families in need. Every one of these organizations relies heavily on volunteers to support its programs; your willingness to pitch in would be a godsend. 

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As you’re mulling over the best fit for your interests and skill set, keep in mind that volunteerism doesn’t have to be all-consuming (although often, the more you do, the more you want to do). It only takes a few hours per week, studies have shown, to prompt the maximum benefit for you and any cause you choose to support.

Your efforts and those of your peers make a significant difference. According to recent data published by AmeriCorps, Americans volunteered nearly 6.9 billion hours last year, worth an estimated $167 billion in economic value, and this does not include the millions more who supported friends and family and did favors for their neighbors, all acts of “informal volunteering.”

So as the new year gets underway, don’t give in to the blues. Just give.


This article was originally published in the January/February 2023 issue of St. George Health and Wellness magazine.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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