Green Acres trash cleanup (Photo provided)Whether you reflect proudly on your many accomplishments in the past year or you can’t wait to turn a new page and look toward the future, the new calendar year is an opportunity to do new and better things.

Whether your resolution is to become healthier, learn a new skill or be happier, there is one you can do to help you get there: volunteer.

Volunteering in your community is the resolution that keeps on giving. You could say that volunteering is the perfect New Year’s resolution, because it brings so many great benefits. Volunteerism has countless benefits to the community, but it also benefits the health and happiness of individuals who commit to volunteering.

People who volunteer report physical, mental and emotional health benefits. “Doing Good is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study” reveals key benefits of volunteering that make a positive impact on people’s health including feeling better mentally, physically and emotionally.

No matter how you decide to volunteer, you will also help create and support a healthier community. Whether you have an hour a week or an unlimited amount of time to commit, you need to get out in the community and volunteer. Often, the best way we can make the world a better place is by starting with our own neighborhood.

There are hundreds of places to volunteer all throughout Kentucky, so find an organization in your community that interests you. If you are ever interested in volunteering in the realm of environmental education, give Bluegrass Greensource a call. We have many different kinds of volunteer opportunities.

In fact, Bluegrass Greensource is launching a new volunteer program in 2015 called Bluegrass GreenForce. Joining the GreenForce is an opportunity for you to be trained on important environmental issues, lead stream cleanups and storm-drain stenciling events, collaborate with our education and outreach staff, educate the community at community events, and implement your own ideas for greening Central Kentucky.

If you are interested in volunteering with Bluegrass Greensource, email or call 859-266-1572.

Ashley photo

Ashley Bryant Cheney is the green jobs coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, connecting green businesses with a young workforce and preparing students for green careers in the Bluegrass. From Knoxville, she’s worked in volunteer and program management at various nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s in osychology from Carson-Newman University and a master’s in urban studies and community development from Eastern University.

This article appeared in KY Forward on January 8, 2015.