Couples Who Volunteer Together, Stay Together
You’ve probably heard that spending quality time with your partner, whether it’s trying a new activity, having a regular date night or even working out together, can help strengthen your relationship. Meeting new people or learning a new skill can energize a relationship simply by pulling you out of your everyday routines. But there’s one activity that invigorates you, introduces you to a new skill and makes you feel good about yourself that often goes overlooked: community service.
Couples who volunteer together at Second Harvest Heartland have reported that volunteering helps them maintain a fun and healthy relationship not just with each other, but with their neighbors too. Here are three reasons why you should consider volunteering with your partner:
1. It brings you closer to each other—and your community.
In a study published by Harvard Health, authors noted that when people work together in a volunteer capacity, they begin to build social connections based on shared interests and values, all of which foster stronger relationships.
Wil and Myra Hirsch, who married in 1954 and have two children, have been volunteering at Second Harvest Heartland’s Maplewood facility for years. The retirees credit volunteering together with helping them feel happier and more productive.
“It widens our circle and helps us engage with new people and make new friends,” said Wil. “We recommend it to all the couples we know.”
Carole McKinzie, who volunteers at Second Harvest Heartland twice a week with her husband, Jerry, pictured above, said they have made many good friends through their volunteer work. “Doing social things together is so important, especially for seniors. It helps us physically and mentally.”
2. It cultivates a sense of gratitude and happiness.
Volunteering as a couple can help you and your partner recognize and savor all the good things you share in your life together. In other words, it can help you count your blessings. For Carole and Jerry, who met 45 years ago at a mixer for single parents, that means reflecting on their 16 children, 32 grandkids and 27 great grandkids.
"We just feel so blessed, and this is our way of giving back," said Carole.
Wil and Myra feel grateful that unlike their parents and grandparents, they've never struggled with hunger.
“My parents suffered starvation in Germany during WW1, and my grandparents had to steal potatoes from a neighbor’s farm. We have never experienced that kind of misfortune.”
Volunteering can also provide a sense of purpose, which in turn makes us feel happier.
“Volunteering is a great way to get out and do something worthwhile and productive. It makes you feel good when you are done that you have accomplished something vitally needed,” said Myra.
3. It keeps you physically fit.
There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests people who volunteer together may be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan. What’s more, according to the American Psychological Association, adults over age 50 who volunteer on a regular basis may be less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers.*
“We look at it as two hours of exercise, twice a week,” said Carole. “It feels good to be on our feet and moving around.”
Wil and Myra, pictured below, agree. “It’s far better and more productive than sitting on the couch and watching TV.”
Grab Your Significant Other and Get Involved!
Due to the recent polar vortex and frigid temperatures, we need more volunteers at Maplewood and Brooklyn Park than ever. Help us fill this need and volunteer for a shift this February and beyond. Signing up is quick and easy.