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Season of Giving: Volunteering extends your youth

Sewing volunteer Bonnie Hanmer helps Calla McCraw, age 10, measure the correct size for the elastic casing in her sewing project during 4-H Sewing class this summer.  To find out how you can volunteer to help with the Henderson County 4-H program, call 69 Sewing volunteer Bonnie Hanmer helps Calla McCraw, age 10, measure the correct size for the elastic casing in her sewing project during 4-H Sewing class this summer. To find out how you can volunteer to help with the Henderson County 4-H program, call 69

According to a recent article from the Journals of Gerontology, written by associate professor and researcher Christine Proulx, older adults who are concerned about losing brain function may do well to include volunteer activities in their lives. Associations between volunteering and better physical health are well known, but now a link between volunteering and higher cognitive functioning has also been found.

In order for a person to live an independent life, the brain uses tools such as memory, working memory and processing. It turns out that volunteering, especially for older adults and women, significantly improves these cognitive functions. Proulx suggests that stimulation of the brain is probably the primary reason for the increase in function. When volunteering, a person must follow directions, solve problems and be active. All of these requirements engage working memory and processing. Working memory is what the brain needs to temporarily store and manage information.

That’s good news for 4-H volunteers and others who invest hours of service in their communities. Not only do they develop meaningful relationships and help youth grow, learn and achieve more, their engagement and activity gives their own minds a powerful boost! We are very thankful for the positive influence of 4-H volunteers! Without them, the program would not be as effective and wide-reaching.

4-H volunteers enhance our local program in so many ways! They assist with office support, work as 4-H club leaders, and serve as mentors with sewing, cooking and other classes. 4-H volunteers serve on the 4-H Advisory Committee to help support the overall program and give it direction. Public school teachers see the benefits of 4-H and offer to sponsor after-school clubs at their schools. Children and teens learn the importance of community service through their 4-H clubs, and by participating in programs such as FRESH. (Flat Rock’s Exceptional Sandburg Helpers). Many people work behind the scenes to help events happen and give children the best experience they can have.