“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill
Point to Ponder: Is there a particular non-profit or charitable organization that means a lot to you?
We live in a day and age where non-profits and volunteer opportunities are abundant. Because of technology, it’s as simple as a click of a button to see the needs of people across the globe. Not only do we have access to helping our literal neighbors, but we can easily find ways to help and create real impact throughout the whole world. Pretty cool! Much like gratitude, when we help others by volunteering our time or making a donation, our brain releases our favorite feel-good neurotransmitter, dopamine. It also causes “the giver’s glow and helper’s high.” According to Dr. Stephen Post, professor of preventative medicine and bioethics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, “brain scans show that even the mere thought of helping others makes people happier.”
“In the United States millions of adults volunteer their time to help others for a specific cause. This ‘giving’ population reports the following results:
- Improved sense of well-being (89%)
- Lower stress levels (73%)
- Better physical health (68%)
- Enhanced emotional health (77%)
- Enriched sense of purpose in life (92%)
- Increased happiness (96%)
Now with Thanksgiving behind us and the Christmas season in full-force, if you’re like me you feel extra motivated to give and help others. While this time of year makes us want to give more, it’s also a time of year that can cause added stress and depression. So in an effort to get “the giver’s glow” and combat any holiday blues, we thought we’d launch the Christmas season in the right direction by focusing the next few weeks on giving and generosity and share some of our favorite philanthropies and non-profits (because if you’re like me, there are so many non-profits and philanthropies out there that it’s slightly overwhelming to determine who to give to).
There are so many great non-profits. Among my favorites are: Victory School Uganda, Austin Life Care, Dell Children’s Hospital, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Hospice Austin, Helping Hand Home for Children, Jeremiah Program and Any Baby Can. In addition to all of these amazing non-profits, there’s one specifically I’d like to make you aware of that I know you’ll love: WeViva. WeViva is a non-profit in Austin that provides accessible and affordable fitness and nutrition programs to people in low-income communities. A few weeks ago I met with the founder Carolyn Haney, and she shared what we all know to be true: that health and wellness starts and ends at home, and most often with mom. And, it’s great that children are being taught the benefits of exercise and healthy eating at school, but if it’s not reinforced at home, the healthy success rate significantly decreases.
The super cool thing about WeViva is that they offer Zumba, yoga, strength training, and nutrition classes every week day at 18 locations in the Austin area, providing 32 classes per week! Their classes are always full, with as many as 60 participants per class. They are changing the lives of women and their families — WeViva is saving lives! There are so many things I love about WeViva, but what drives it home for me is something my mother confessed several months ago. I knew we didn’t have money growing up, but when I asked if while raising my sister and I while working full-time if she would’ve spent $30/month for a convenient at-work exercise program, she said, “No. As much as I would’ve loved it and needed it, we didn’t have extra money and every penny I earned was going towards necessities and the things you and your sister needed for your school and extra-curricular activities.” Therefore, one of my main non-profit focuses this holiday season that will also give me the ‘Giver’s Glow’ will be WeViva, which will help provide women (much like my mother many years ago) have a free and convenient opportunity to receive the benefits of health and fitness — a gift with unlimited and infinite benefits!
Check out the video below to get a glimpse into the world of WeViva, and think about ways you might be able to give of your time and/or assets this holiday season to benefit a charitable organization that means something to you.