Hotel professional Felipe Aruga was still a kid when he had his first contact with volunteer work. His parents used to take the family to visit nursing homes and orphanages on specific dates, such as Christmas and Easter, so they could create an early awareness that they needed to help others. Years passed, but Aruga kept in his head what he had learned from his parents and was always involved in some kind of project. Currently, he is 44 years old and is a member of the Fogão na Rua group, which distributes meals, blankets and hygiene kits to the homeless in downtown São Paulo.
With each new encounter, personal well-being grows within him. “It may sound cliched, but gratitude is the defining feeling. To be able to do something and know its impact on people’s lives. Seeing the joy in the eyes of those who receive these donations gives a sense of fulfillment. Volunteering is a huge benefit,” he says.
The feeling is real and often directly affects the mental health of the volunteer. “Volunteering contributes not only to increased well-being, but also to reducing depressive symptoms and improving quality of life. Some studies even highlight volunteering as a health promotion strategy, especially for the elderly,” explains psychologist Flávia Marucci- Dalpicolo, Professor in the Department of Neurosciences and Behavioral Sciences at FMRP/USP (Ribeirao Preto Medical School, University of São Paulo) and Director of the Hospital Psychology Service at Hospital das Clinicas de Ribeirão Preto.
Volunteering also provides significant improvement in one’s perspective (because it is related to an issue of personal and social value), social recognition (as an altruistic person with a willingness to help), and satisfaction in realizing that it can change something in someone. Life, society and a sense of belonging to a particular group. “These feelings favor feelings of pleasure, satisfaction and satiation. Research shows that these experiences have a very beneficial effect not only on psychological aspects and self-esteem, but also indicate a decrease in symptoms of chronic diseases and an overall improvement in mental health status”, says psychologist Maria da Conceição. Ovaldo, of the Labor Studies and Career Guidance Laboratory at the University of the South Pacific Institute of Psychology.
“When you help, you help yourself”
Working as a volunteer for two years at ADUS, an institute that promotes the integration of refugees into Brazilian society, Eduardo Medeiros do Paco, 32, found there to be one of the main purposes in his life. “I fulfill the legal demands of the refugees. They are mainly questions about documentation, visas and passports. However, there are doubts about opening a company or how to invest in Brazil and we provide this support as well. We do not carry out procedures or processes, but are always available to remove doubts and guide and listening “.
Contact with these different people gave Paço the confidence he lacked. “I have always loved connecting with people of other nationalities, and as a lawyer and journalist, I thought working with refugees would be a fun opportunity to hear stories, help people, and better understand the world. I think I make a difference in someone’s life, however, what people tell me about wars And the dictatorships and the experiences they went through is what makes a difference in my life.”
The director of Ipesa (Institute for Social and Environmental Projects and Research), geographer Paola Samora, 41, now started as a volunteer on the project in 2005. The idea of turning passive spaces in schools into a laboratory for eco-educational practices, such as creating vegetable gardens, composting systems, irrigation systems and implementing selective separation of materials , was what prompted interest in entering her recklessly. “The volunteer work I do is good for me, because it is something I believe in, especially when I look at the results of the projects I help make viable and that bring improvements to the people and the environment we live in. I feel satisfied and happy. I am practicing my nationality and, at the same time, dedicating myself For a job I love.
One of the foundations of volunteering is to do what you love and stand up for the causes you believe in. For Marcelo Nonohay, Director of MGN Consultoria, a project management company for social transformation, this is the first step for anyone who wants to get started. “When you help, you help yourself too. Volunteering gives purpose to people’s lives and often brings satisfaction and happiness.”
Sensitivity to vulnerability has increased with the epidemic
to me Research The Global Giving Index 2021, from the Charities Aid Foundation, Brazil rose 14 places in the Global Solidarity Ranking and is now 54th in a list of 114 countries. This is our best performance so far and is on par with the numbers of 2016, when the Brazilian people mobilized in an unprecedented way to help family members of the Mariana Dam (MG) victims.
The study shows that 15% of Brazilians acted voluntarily in the past year and 63% helped an unknown person. “In Brazil, there is still a perception that volunteering ‘works for free’. There are many justifications for lack of time and not knowing how to reach social organizations. Much is expected of the state to solve all social and environmental problems. To overcome these barriers to maintain the same level of solidarity that We’ve seen it during the pandemic.” Nonohay.
For Marucci-Dalpicolo, the past year has brought people into contact with their own weaknesses, making them more sensitive to other people’s weaknesses. “In this uncontrollable situation, in which we cannot individually prevent or prevent the progress of the epidemic and its effects on the world, we turn to what is within our reach, in order to try to mitigate its impact, and cooperate with how we can try to improve the world that We live in it.”
According to her, given the many stories of loss, mourning, and losses, including financial losses, volunteering can be a very effective coping strategy, to reassess a situation Stress Actively participate and exercise some control, making a difference in what is at hand.
I want to start what now
Adopting a cause only makes sense if it is motivated by it. According to Ovaldo, everyone who wants to start volunteering must necessarily look for something they feel they can help with. “If I don’t have an affinity with dogs, it makes no sense to be involved in an NGO (non-governmental organization) that takes care of these animals, even if they are intellectually related. It doesn’t affect me emotionally.”
According to the psychologist, it is always important to understand the type of voluntary activity one would like to engage in, “because we have so many possibilities for problems that my help could be important and give me the feeling of being helped, making a difference, and feeling of well-being that the perception of feeling as a good person and recognition can provide.”
Another important point, according to her, is the respect for the availability of time, passion and attention. An alternative might be to choose an activity other than the one you’re working on. “This reduces self-demand, i.e. I don’t need to be the best or be successful in my performance, because I am learning or something I love, and I disconnect from my professional activity, my fears and my demands. Volunteering can help visualize that a person is capable of many different things. and unexplored.”
It’s also important to note that you won’t need, for example, to have this job every Saturday for the rest of your life. Volunteering is not meant to be stressful. “There is no problem in volunteering for a specific job or for a specific period. It is always beneficial and can provide well-being.”
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