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How Alive Is the Helping Connection?



Volunteering is one way to a healthier life, reveals a survey conducted by Spirituality & Health. More than 80 percent say their tense nation’s overall stress would decrease if personal-contact helping grows.

This article appeared in our June 2003 issue. If public figures gave up one hour a week from their schedules to publicly volunteer with a needy or ill person, they could inspire many Americans to do the same and so address two major national concerns: individual health and closeness between people of different backgrounds. If CEOs allowed employees time off to volunteer as coaches or at shelters, it also could produce these benefits, as well as increase corporate productivity. If health insurance executives offered reduced premiums to those who reach out to strangers with ongoing personal-contact helping, they could attract new policyholders and the costs would be offset, just as with discounts to exercisers and non smokers, by savings in treatment costs. These findings come from a body of research and the first national survey to look at the kind of helping that strengthens personal health and the nation’s social unity. This helping requires personal contact with those helped; repetition — at least four hours a month; and helping strangers rather than just family or friends. Call this …

Allan Luks was executive director of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of New York City in 2002. His books include the ground breaking The Healing Power of Doing Good, which was reissued in paperback.

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