Research shows that volunteering at least two hours a week over an extended period of time can be good for your health. Studies indicate that regular volunteering slows the cognitive decline of aging, as well as improving physical and mental health. The Wall Street Journal surveyed the research and appears to have identified a magic recipe for gaining the maximum health benefits of volunteering. The recipe has four key items:
• Physical activity (can be moderate as long as it’s regular)
• Cognitive activity (learning new skills or doing something outside your comfort zone)
• Socializing (opportunities to build connections and friendships)
• Persistence (more than an occasional activity; being a mentor, for example).
This is great news for organizations that welcome volunteers, such as the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), as CAP’s civilian volunteer opportunities can hit all four of these elements. You can train for and carry out search & rescue (air and ground) and disaster relief missions. You can help shape future leaders through CAP’s youth development (cadet) program, while also promoting aviation, STEM and related fields.
When joining CAP, many members say they wish they knew about the organization sooner—perhaps because the activities are so rewarding. Often people think that they must be a pilot or former military to be a part of CAP. Not so on either point. Though our members often share an interest in aviation, most are not pilots. Whatever your talent or area of interest, there is a need for you. Some members are current or former military, while others never served in uniform. CAP has certain minimum eligibility requirements, but also has an equal opportunity policy and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, age, religion, ethnicity, national origin or disability.
Check out what Civil Air Patrol is about and how you can help! Go to the national website to learn more and find a squadron near you or, if near the Peninsula of the Bay Area, visit our squadron in San Carlos, CA.