Volunteering: small acts, big change
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[April 24, 2012]
(ARA) -- For many communities
across the country, the smallest acts of kindness can make the
biggest difference. Whether it's working at a local soup kitchen,
visiting a nursing home, mentoring youth, or helping to paint a
local house in disrepair, there are many ways to get involved.
Not only does volunteering help others, but it can actually
help you too. In fact, the health benefits of volunteering can
include reduced stress and an increased feeling of self-worth.
Additionally, research has shown that for people with chronic
conditions, being physically active can help to control joint
swelling and pain.
When Debbie McGrady, a 56-year-old mother of two, was diagnosed
with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), she decided she was not going to
allow the condition to take over her life. RA is a chronic
autoimmune disease that affects the lining of the joints, causing
pain, swelling and stiffness. While McGrady has had to deal with
occasional pain and stiffness, she was determined to regain control
of her physical and emotional health and to keep active. She decided
to get involved with Hand in Hand for RA, a national campaign that
found that 40 percent of RA patients would like to give back to
their communities by volunteering.
For McGrady, volunteering has proven to be very rewarding and
fun. She drives seniors to their doctor's appointments, to the
drugstore and helps them with other errands. "Volunteering is such a
gratifying feeling and allows me to focus on helping others as
opposed to my disease," says McGrady. "The smallest things can make
a world of difference for somebody and certainly make me feel good
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Founded in 2009, Hand in Hand for RA is a national awareness
campaign that encourages people with RA to learn about the benefits
of volunteering and share their own inspirational stories. It allows
people living with the disease to discuss their experiences with
others going through the same obstacles.
"We've seen that many people with RA share a common desire to
volunteer," says Seth Ginsberg, co-founder and president of
grassroots arthritis group CreakyJoints, an online community for
people with arthritis and a partner of the campaign. "I am inspired
when I hear that others are giving back, despite their diseases."
This year, give back to your community and lend a helping hand.
For more information on how to get involved visit
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