Be Sweet and Live Longer
Helping Yourself by Helping Others
It's common knowledge that stress can have a negative impact on your health. But did you know that a positive, caring attitude can improve your physical well-being? Scientific studies show that kind people live longer, healthier lives. The studies also show that individuals who help others may experience a natural rush referred to as the "Helpers High" that lifts spirits and, in some cases, even reduces physical pain. There are endless opportunities to show kindness to others. Here are some of our favorite ways that people have made a difference.
Have you ever felt oddly happy after helping someone with a chore? It's not your imagination, it's the "Helpers High," first described in a 1988 study published by researcher Allen Luks. Half of the study participants described a "high" feeling after helping others, while 43 percent stated they felt stronger and more energetic. Notably, 13 percent reported a reduction in pain, suggesting a physical benefit in addition to the mental health boost associated with helping others.
Portrait Of a Volunteer
Gail and Dale Hodek began volunteering at a local senior center in Lawrence, Wisconsin in 2008, after each had a parent who moved to the facility. Gail, a retired art teacher, assists residents with craft projects that are then displayed on residential walls. In the beginning, many residents were unable to identify their projects due to memory loss. Today, Hodek photographs the artists as they work. The photos are posted alongside their masterpieces, allowing seniors to quickly identify their work on the walls.
Giving Back to Her School
The Alabama School for the Blind helped Montana Wimberley when she was a student. Today, she's giving back by volunteering at the school. Wimberley currently mentors 12-year-old ASB student Chloe Wright. The two work together on Chloe's homework, play games and hang out after school.
Missouri Snowbirds Raise Money For Alabama Libraries
The Missouri Snowbirds Club includes a group of seniors who spend their winters in Gulf Shores, Alabama, enjoying the regional amenities - including the local libraries. The club found a way to return the hospitality in 2007: a Trivia Night fundraiser. The annual event has raised $31,500 for the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach public libraries in just five years. The money paid for amenities the library could not afford otherwise, including new computers.
Offering Alternatives to Teen Offenders
Marshall County, Alabama Chief Probation Officer Donna Johnson strives to help at-risk youth turn their lives around. In 2010, she was a driving force behind introducing the Youth Advocate Program (YAP) to the county. YAP programs offer community-based alternatives to detention and juvenile incarceration. The program emphasizes building a support system for teens, their families and their communities. The Marshall County program graduated 16 teens in its first year, including 13 who were attending school regularly, two who were working toward a GED and one who was being home-schooled until graduation.
Real-life Super Heroine Helps the Homeless
Nicole Abramovici is part of a movement that combines community service with good-natured fun: Superheroes Anonymous. The Brooklyn woman hits the streets at night dressed as her alter ego, "Prowler." She doesn't fight crime, but she does help the homeless - by handing out clothing, toiletries and other necessities they need to survive.
Reaching Out, Saving a Life
Mukilteo, Washington police officer Brenda Greenmun saved at least one life, purely by chance. Greenmun spotted a woman attempting to climb over an overpass railing, high above a busy freeway. The officer talked the suicidal woman down, saving her life - and potentially preventing a serious accident on the busy eight-lane freeway. She was recognized by the American Red Cross for her heroism.
Teens Form Random Act of Kindness Club
Nick Tieszen was driving through Sioux Falls, North Dakota when he saw a site familiar to city dwellers: a homeless man fighting off the cold. The experience inspired Tieszen to establish the Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) club. The club members have started with small, simple acts, such as carrying groceries. Tieszen hopes to move on to bigger projects, beginning with shingling a neighbor's garage. He's fundraising to pay for materials now.
Extreme Food Banking
Food banks across the nation are struggling to keep shelves filled. The one in Dobson, North Carolina is no exception. So Town Manager Josh Smith created a friendly competition between the town's public works department and the police department to see who could collect the most non-perishable goods. The two food drives brought in a total of 778 pounds of food for the Foothills Food Pantry - enough to feed 16 people for a week.
Bystander Pulls Accident Victims From Burning Car
According to this story, Pamela Jones-Morton was driving home from a Christmas party in Naples, Florida when an SUV hit the car in front of her. When she went to check on the driver, she discovered the car was on fire. Jones-Morton crawled through the back of the car to rescue both the driver and her grandchild, who was trapped in a car seat. All escaped unharmed. Jones-Morton was awarded the Bonita Springs Fire Department's first Medal of Valor for her bravery. She said she was simply helping someone in need.
Layaway 'Angels' Help With the Holidays
Layaway "angels" arrived just in time to save the holidays for struggling families. Layaway programs allow customers to make a down payment on merchandise and then pay it off within a set period of time. Anonymous layaway angels went to stores across the nation, paying off layaways for strangers and ensuring many families would get the holiday of their dreams after all.
Mother Carries Out Child's Dying Wish
Chandler Palmerton was just 8-years-old when he died, but he had a very mature wish: to raise money for other children battling cancer. Today, his mother, Amy Palmerton, is making his wish a reality. Palmerton has organized fundraisers to help 3-year-old Bradlee Aguilar-Moreno, who is battling the same type of cancer that claimed Chandler's life. She also plans to establish the Chandler Palmerton Foundation to raise money for other children and their families.
Returning Treasured Guitars
Phil Ardrey was heartbroken when five guitars, including one from his father and another from his wife, Holly Adkins-Ardrey, were stolen from his Kenmore Park, Ohio home. Adkins-Ardrey made flyers and appealed to members of the music scene in person and through social media. Complete strangers took up the cause, distributing flyers. Weeks later, two men brought four of the guitars in to a local music store to sell them. Alert employees recognized the guitars and stalled the sellers until police arrived. Both guitars that were gifts from Ardrey's wife and father were among the instruments recovered.
Putting Training to Work: Fast Response Saves Heart Attack Victim
Trey Bren and Kelsey Remund both take annual CPR classes as employees of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Parks and Recreation department. They never expected to put that training to use, however. The two were on duty when 21-year-old Vance Magee collapsed from a heart attack. Remund called the paramedics while Bren retrieved a defibrillator they had been trained to use. The two are credited with saving Magee's life.