The Many Benefits of Our Disaster Response Work

volunteers painting a house

You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you give the perfect gift to a friend or family member? Perhaps you experienced that feeling again this past Christmas season. The recipient of your thoughtfulness expressed joy and excitement because of your generosity. It is such a blessing to experience! Well, it turns out that it is also good for your health!

Stephen G. Post, Professor of Preventive Medicine and author of the book Why Good Things Happen to Good People,  writes, “The startling findings from our many studies demonstrate that if you engage in helping activities as a teen, you will still be reaping the health benefits 60 or 70 years later. Generous behavior is closely associated with reduced risk of illness and mortality and lower rates of depression.”

I know a group of people who understand that reality so well! As coordinator of the Lower Susquehanna Synod Lutheran Disaster Response Network, I call upon these dedicated volunteers each and every time there is a need somewhere in the world following a natural disaster! I have a list of more than 130 volunteers who have gone with me to the Gulf Coast, North Dakota, West Virginia, New Jersey and Puerto Rico to carry out God’s work of disaster response. Each time we go, we take with us the prayers and good wishes of so many more who support our efforts through attending fundraisers or simply making donations to support our work.

The photos you see with this article are from our most recent trip to Puerto Rico. Twenty-five volunteers made the trip and worked to help restore the homes of two families in Puerto Rico. Luz and Janet were the homeowners we helped, and both expressed tears of joy when they saw the love that motivated our volunteers to do as much as they could while we were there!

People often ask why we do what we do, and there are probably dozens of reasons why. God certainly calls us to do it, as Paul so clearly tells us in Galatians, but I believe we do it because we could not possibly not do it! It is such an important part of what makes us who we are as people of faith.

Neuroscientist Jorge Moll, from the National Institutes of Health, found that when people give of themselves, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure and trust, creating that “warm glow” effect. Studies also found that adults over 50 who volunteer on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. Those are good reasons, too, for why we do what we do, but I think it’s because we just don’t know any other way to be!

Thank you for your support of this ministry. It will continue for as long as it is needed! Plans are currently being made for a local trip in the spring, a summer youth trip and a return to beautiful Puerto Rico in November. Let me know if you’d like to come along!

Peace be with you all!

Rev. Glenn A. Beard, Jr.
Director of Church Relations & Pastoral Care