Showing posts with label community volunteer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community volunteer. Show all posts

Monday, May 16, 2016

Five Ways to Stay Mentally Healthy

May is Mental Health Month, so we’re sharing five things you can do to improve your brain health, some of which may surprise you!

1. Connect with others in your community 

Having strong relationships with the people around you will enrich your life. People who maintain relationships with their families, friends, neighbors, and others in their community benefit from a stronger support system, which lowers stress and helps us to keep things in perspective.

Volunteering your time for a cause or issue that you care about is a wonderful way to give back to your community, meet new people, and also boost your mood. For volunteer ideas, you may consider checking out online resources including, or reaching out to your local United Way.

2. Pump up your gray matter with meditation 

A 2015 study conducted by a Harvard affiliated research team found solid evidence that meditation can actually transform your brain’s gray matter, sustaining a positive and relaxed state. They found that daily meditative mindfulness exercises resulted in two positive benefits:
  • Boosts in gray matter density in the part of the brain that increases self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
  • Decreases in gray matter density in the areas of the brain associated with anxiety and stress. 

3. Eat your way to mental health

It turns out that what (and even when) you eat can positively, or negatively, influence your brain health. For example:
  • Certain fats are healthy for your brain, helping you maintain a happy state. UCLA's Brain Research Institute determined that the Omega-3 fatty acids in foods such as salmon, walnuts, and kiwi fruit not only enhance memory but also reduce depression, schizophrenia, and dementia.
  • Another study determined that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens, etc.) can improve your mental functioning. 
  • Research shows that foods with beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, can decrease inflammation, which in turn positively affects your mood and cognition.
  • Dark chocolate’s antioxidants increase blood flow to the brain, which aids both mood and memory.
  • Studies also show that the curcumin in turmeric can reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, ADHD, and autism. And a 2004 study showed that the smell of cinnamon can boost brain activity. Nutmeg is often used to reduce fatigue and stress. 

4. Remain positive! a According to neuroscience research, engaging in negative thoughts causes the brain to be hardwired for chronic negativity. Complaining -- an offshoot of anger that leads to anxiety and stress -- compromises our immune systems, upsets hormonal balance, and makes us susceptible to stroke and heart disease. And our complaining words negatively influence the brain chemistry of those around us.

5. Aromatherapy: smell your way to brain healtha

Research suggests that some fragrances may have a clinically significant effect on your mood. For example, one study found that roasted coffee bean aroma resulted in stress relaxation in rat brains. Another study found that the scent of orange oil decreased anxiety in dental patients and reduced reliance on antidepressant medications.

This information should not to be considered medical advice, so first consult with your physician before considering any new health regimen. And if your doctor prescribes medicines, don’t forget that you can significantly reduce the cost of your prescription with the free FamilyWize card

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bankrupt Food Banks? A Nationwide Risk!

I remember the angst and helplessness I felt when volunteering at a church’s once-a-week food shelter and realizing that the number of cars lining up at the food pantry’s door was far greater than the number of bags of groceries we were handing out.  Saying “Sorry, folks, no more!” to those who were too far back in the car line was painful.

I’d like to think that my experience at that food bank was an isolated one.  But the reality is that donations to food banks are down from coast to coast.  Simultaneously, food shelters are seeing record numbers of those seeking help in feeding their families.

The Critical Status of Free Food Banks Today

Foodbank donations
Local church food panty collects donations for their food bank.
There’s an unfortunate bit of irony that occurs whenever the country is in a season of economic difficulty; at the very time when the ranks of un- and underemployed are growing, organizations that offer free groceries to the needy suffer from declining donations. The result:  food bank bankruptcy!

According to the nonprofit organization Feeding America, "48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 32.6 million adults and 16.2 million children."  They also reported that requests for emergency food assistance were up by 30 percent in 2008 from the previous year.  And with the unemployment in many areas even higher today than in 2008, these statistics only get worse.  Many local food banks are reporting greater than 20 percent increases in customers and greater than 40 percent increases in free food distributed.  And this is at a time when the New York Times reports that local food pantries or free food banks are reporting critical food shortages in the USA, forcing them to ration supplies and distribute staples usually reserved for disaster relief.  Some have even had to close their doors due to lack of support.

Perform a search on Bing or Google for “food bank shortage” and you will be overwhelmed by the barrage of news articles regarding food banks across the country that are unable to keep up with the demand from those in need of groceries.

To get a grip on the food bank situation in your area, simply add the name of your town or county to the search; chances are you’ll find news and announcements of empty local food pantry shelves within miles of your own home.

I suppose a problem with food or dollar donation shortages should not be surprising, as many of those who make food bank donations become the ones in need when unemployment rates are high.

Food Crisis in America

Government, organizations, and individuals recognize the food crisis in the USA.  Many people wrongly assume that their tax dollars can handle this food problem.  But we all have to do our part. The government provides resources such as food stamp programs and the WIC program – Women, Infant, and Children – providing food donations or groceries to those in need.  But it is not nearly enough in times like these when the need is greater than the supply of programs. 

A food shortage isn't just a government problem - it is a people problem.  If everyone stepped up to help out their neighbors, families wouldn't have to choose between buying groceries or making the rent or mortgage payment.  At times like this free food banks become a critical resource.

You Can Help Solve the Food Crisis!

The purpose of this blog post is to increase awareness of the food bank shortages and to identify solutions.  The good news is, there are many ways you can help your community to overcome this food bank crisis.
Local Food Pantry
Non-perishable foods feed many families in need.
  • Make regular food donations – Nearly every community has free food banks, and I’ve never heard of one suffering from too many donations.   If you’re not sure where your neighborhood’s food banks are, inquire at any church.  If they don’t have their own food bank program, such as a church food pantry, they likely participate in the food shelter program of another church or neighborhood organization that would be grateful for your canned food donations or financial support. 
  • Become a food shelter volunteer – If you’ve never volunteered at a food bank or pantry, you’re missing out on one of life’s great blessings.  How you feel about yourself at the end of the day after spending a few hours as a food shelter volunteer is immeasurable and good for the soul.  Consider involving your whole family in the food shelter volunteering effort; your children mature in healthy ways when they are raised to recognize the needs of others and develop a habit of taking action to reduce the misery of others.  The good thing about volunteering is that it allows you to help the food banks even when your own resources are too limited to donate food or funds.
  • Support a food bank by starting a grocery drive – If your church or workplace doesn’t already have a food bank support program, work with the leadership to start one!  It’s as easy as distributing paper bags and announcing the food drive to the congregation or employees, explaining what kinds of grocery donations are needed and by when.  Even if your workplace or church already has a holiday grocery drive, food banks need support even when there’s not a holiday, so…   :-)
  • Start a food bank! – in the unlikely event that your town or region has no food banks, consider starting one.  Talk with a church or leaders in your community to enlist their help.
Oh, and there’s one more thing you can do to help:

Share This Article with Others

This is something you can do right now – yes, this very minute; copy the Web address to this blog and forward it by e-mail, Facebook, or Google+ to your friends and relatives.  Help us double the awareness of this national food bank crisis and you’ll be helping to put food on the table of those in need.

We would also love to hear of your experiences volunteering or giving to a food bank.  Give a shout out to your local food pantry and thank them for their dedication!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Big Tweet - United Way's Day of Action


It is time to stand up and shout Live United!!
If you read Monday's blog then you already know why you need to tweet.  If not, let me tell you why June 21st is so special!

All across the nation tomorrow, the United Way of America will be organizing thousands of volunteers for their United Way Day of Action.

Why is this year so special?  This year's Day of Action falls on the 125 anniversary of the United Way movement.  That's pretty special...

Let's keep a good thing going!

Join United Way on June 21st for The Big Tweet.  Get engaged by sharing your volunteer experience through a tweet!  Tweet @ UnitedWay with the hashtag #LIVEUNITED and #iamthechange to let United Way and the rest of America (and maybe even the world) know what YOU did to become the change through United Way volunteer opportunities.

Want your shout to be heard EVEN LOUDER? "Like" United Way on Facebook, write on its wall, and post a picture to demonstrate what you are doing to make a difference in your community.

If you have not pledged to put your United Way volunteer hat on yet, IT'S NOT TOO LATE!  You can still count yourself in and become one of the more than 50,000 people who have counted themselves in to get involved in a huge nationwide volunteer effort.

Guess what?  WE want to see what you are doing, too! Tweet to @FamilyWize to let us know what YOU are doing tomorrow.  Post a picture on our Facebook wall and be sure to include the United Way you support.  We will then post all of the pictures we receive to a board on our Pinterest page!

Be the change.  Be a United Way volunteer.

united way volunteer unitedway
United Way of America volunteers for the Big Tweet.
Krysta W.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I always say, "When you are too busy for people, you are too busy doing the wrong thing."

So many times we get so busy between work, family, friends, WORK, and the many other activities -  we forget those around us.  The connection of one person to another brings not only hope to the person being helped, but also joy in our own lives.

Community Volunteer
United Way's Day of Action volunteers.
On June 21st we all have an opportunity to do something for someone intentionally through United Way's Day of Action.  United Way is one of our partners for the FamilyWize free prescription discount drug card.  They impact people's lives on a daily basis through education, income, and health.

So what can you do?

Contact your local United Way.  (Use our Where to Get a Card page to find a local participating United Way or go to and enter your zip code at the top.)  Then give them a call and ask them if they are participating in the United Way Day of Action on Thursday, June 21st.  Or ask them how you can be part of their volunteer program and be "the change" in someone's life.    

Just so you know - I walk the talk.  I am working with a group of people right now to raise money for a young twenty-six year old mother who needs a heart transplant.  This group is helping on many levels - helping her find a more affordable place to live and a more affordable car payment.  Teaching her proper nutrition to improve her current physical state as well as raising money!  Just from the little things, she shared that she doesn't feel alone in this journey and has come to trust our group!  For me to help ONE person not feel like they are alone in this big old world is worth everything!

It doesn't have to be a big project.  You don't have to do it alone.  Get a group of people together. Call your local United Way and work on a project for a day or for a week.  Just become a community volunteer so that you can make a difference in another person's life.

The joy you receive out of it - is just as HUGE as the act you are doing!

So remember Thursday, June 21 United Way Day of Action!  Please share with us what you are doing to CHANGE lives.  You can also be part of the United Way's Big Tweet (check back for details on Wednesday)!

Share this blog with your friends and get them involved too!!!

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager