The Value of Volunteerism

by: Desiree Lackey

On September 11, 2001, nineteen al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial jetliners, intending to hit the World Trade Center in New York City and targets in Washington, D.C. Hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11, carrying 87 passengers and crew into the North Tower, and United Airlines Flight 175, carrying 60 passengers and crew into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Hijackers also crashed American Airlines Flight 77, carrying 59 passengers and crew, into the Pentagon. United Flight 93, bound for an unknown target –possibly the White House or the Capital, crashed in Somerset County, PA., carrying 44 passengers and crew. Tragically, nearly 3,000 lives were lost that day. The tragedy of that day will live on in the history books and the hearts and minds of so many.

That day and for months afterwards, we experienced volunteerism at the highest rate that had ever been seen. People were inspired to come together, and volunteer in many different ways. Volunteerism surged to more than double what it had been prior to 9/11 – and this just wasn’t due to rescue efforts, this included all kinds of service related activities. In 2009, Congress designated September 11th as “National Day of Service and Remembrance.” On this day Americans are encouraged to honor those who lost their lives on that horrific day by participating in volunteer activities.

At LexisNexis, September is known as RE Cares Month. Employees across the globe are encouraged to volunteer with various local and global organizations. In 2014, over 50% of our locations around the world got involved in some way. Some locations participated in marathons, boxing food packages, landscaping, building Habitat for Humanity homes, and cleaning up parks. This year, volunteers in the Raleigh office are volunteering for organizations such as Tiger Rescue, the Salvation Army, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Habitat for Humanity, Parks and Recreation, the USO and the Raleigh Food Bank, just to name a few.

LexisNexis embraces volunteerism, not just in September, but throughout the year. I work with people who volunteer with animal rescue, tutoring, *** Cancer Awareness, mentoring, and many other activities. Many of these people volunteer with more than one organization, and most are ongoing volunteer opportunities.

Did you know that volunteering is not only good for the organization you work with, but is also good for you? Not only does research show that volunteers have lower rates of depression than those who don’t volunteer, but volunteers tend to show lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and higher self-esteem. Research also shows that those who give their time tend to have lower blood pressure, and actually feel physically better!

So, if you’ve never volunteered, give it a try!