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In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a new crisis affecting a third of us – loneliness.

According to the US Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, more and more people of all ages are experiencing social isolation, leaving individuals feeling invisible and burdened with the weight of life’s challenges alone.

Dr. Murthy paints a stark picture of its impact – a threat comparable to smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day, with consequences ranging from cardiovascular disease to premature death.

A Solution Through Service

But there’s a solution. The US Surgeon General’s office identifies 6 pillars to advance social connection and combat the loneliness crisis. Pillar 1 is to Strengthen Social Infrastructure in Local Communities. The report identifies volunteering as a key piece in community connection, saying “volunteering is a demonstrated and powerful way to advance connection to one’s community and create diverse ties among community members.”

The Volunteer Center of Lubbock’s mission has always been to inspire a more engaged community by helping people find their purpose and act on it. In 2020, we identified a new way of looking at our purpose: we are the do-good gatherers. While gathering in person was impossible for a long time due to the pandemic, the Volunteer Center adapted to find new ways to bring people together. Now, in the face of this loneliness epidemic, our goal of gathering people for good is more important than ever.

Learn about ways you can Gather for Good

“There is, for instance, a virtuous cycle between social connection and volunteerism or service. Those who are more connected to their communities are more likely to engage in service, and those who are engaged in service are more likely to feel connected to their communities and the individuals in it.”

-Dr. Vivek Murphy

The programming provided by the Volunteer Center of Lubbock has already made a dent in the loneliness crisis. Surveys from high school students in our HYPE (Helping Youth Purposefully Engage) program proved this. One student said about the program, “I found building friendships while serving our community was the most meaningful.” Another student said that their most meaningful experience was “Meeting new people from other schools and making those connections.”

In Youth for Impact, another youth program provided by the Volunteer Center of Lubbock, students experienced a similar result. One participant said, “I connected with so many new people and experienced serving the community surrounded by friends. I became close with so many people and am so grateful for this program.”

Dr. Vivek Murthy’s words echo through these programs – “Each of us can start now, in our own lives, by strengthening our connections and relationships.” The Volunteer Center of Lubbock becomes the platform for individuals to take those small steps every day. These programs not only address the immediate issue of loneliness but becomes a powerful force in rebuilding the social connections that form the bedrock of a thriving community.

Volunteering and community leadership is not just addressing a problem; it is actively shaping a solution. Through volunteerism, connection, and shared purpose, the Volunteer Center stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the profound impact of community-driven initiatives in the fight against loneliness.

Start your volunteering journey today at GetConnected

Kayla Thrasher

Author Kayla Thrasher

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