The Sage Connection

April is about volunteer appreciation and stress awareness


“Thurston County has officially designated April 2024 as Volunteer Appreciation Month, highlighting the indispensable contributions made by volunteers across the community.”                                                                                                        ~ The JOLT News

Thurston County, however, is not the first to designate this month as Volunteer Appreciation Month. As a matter of fact …

Every April since 1974, Global Volunteer Month is a time to recognize volunteers and people who actively support their communities, whether through volunteerism or other elements around the Points of Light Civic Circle®.

The April 21-27, 2024, National Volunteer Week theme is Celebrate Service, an opportunity to shine a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve.

Held in April every year, National Volunteer Month is a time to celebrate and recognize the contributions of volunteers. It is an opportunity to join the impact of volunteerism and encourage more people to get involved in their communities. This is a great month to reaffirm or begin your commitment to giving back.

How? First, find something for which you want to volunteer.  To find 108 current volunteer opportunities, visit and pop in your home zip code.  

Find what makes your heart sing. Meet passionate people: Build camaraderie with fellow volunteers and staff who share your passions. Decide how much time you have to devote to a program or project; can you follow it to its conclusion? Is it an ongoing service? Can you learn something new from it? Can you share it with family members and friends?

Are you a people person? Do you prefer being inside or outdoors? Are your interests seasonal? Does it require financial support and if so, can you comfortably afford to do it on an ongoing basis?

Most volunteers will be the first to tell you they don’t do it for recognition. They do it from a need to provide help in some form. And not everyone is drawn to the same field. Nature lovers, community activists, musicians, PTA members, homeless shelters, church kitchens, service clubs all have one thing in common. A desire to serve.

Why? Perhaps it is because we all need to feel needed. And when children have been raised and other commitments fulfilled, we often begin to look around for something more…and our local communities offer many opportunities to serve in many diverse fields.

Volunteering has been shown to reduce stress, increase happiness, and improve mental and physical health. Which brings me to another shared national annual April event.

April is also National Stress Awareness Month.

And yes, Virginia, there is The American Institute of Stress Awareness. (ASI)

Most of us suffer from some form of stress from time to time, although we may not think of it in those terms. It can be short term, getting ready for holidays and all that entails, or longer lasting from job burnout and health related issues.

According to ASI, stress is how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened and it usually happens when we are in a situation that we don’t feel we can manage or control. Stress is a natural psychological and physiological response to demands or pressures from the environment. It's your body's reaction to a challenge or a threat.

While stress can sometimes be positive, motivating you to perform well under pressure, it can also become overwhelming when it exceeds your ability to cope.

Dr. Swapna Banothu explains, “Stress can persist for extended periods, leading to a condition known as chronic stress. Factors such as ongoing challenges, major life changes, or continuous pressure can contribute to prolonged stress.”

“It's important to address chronic stress, as it can impact both physical and mental well-being. Developing coping mechanisms, seeking support, and adopting stress-management techniques can be beneficial in managing prolonged stress. If you're experiencing persistent stress, consider consulting with a healthcare professional for guidance.”

In my mind, doing something that makes my heart sing can only be helpful in reducing stress, so for me, these two April events go hand in hand. For more information on stress management, go to:

For more information on how to make your heart sing, go to whatever brings you joy, a sense of accomplishment, and peace.

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week from her home in Olympia. Contact her at or post your comment below.


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  • GinnyAnn

    I volunteer at my local school. Being with kids for a little while makes me feel young again and brings joy into my life. The school needs volunteers. Just being present as a grandmother-person is a helpful way to give a kid attention. I do it for my own happiness, but am doubly pleased that I'm helping a young person at the same time.

    Thursday, April 11 Report this