According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is an “Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation” in the United States. This comes as no surprise to the staff and volunteers of Servants. We see this every day when we meet new homeowners and experience the hopelessness they feel from being alone and under resourced. Since we started ministry 23 years ago, “building relationships” has been a part of our mission and a cornerstone of how we serve the community.
“Social connection is a fundamental human need, as essential to survival as food, water, and shelter...Time and time again, people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, from every corner of the country, would tell me, “I have to shoulder all of life’s burdens by myself,” or “if I disappear tomorrow, no one will even notice.”” -Dr. Vivek H Murthy, Surgeon General
As our society continues to grow older, more and more individuals want to age in place. It is the most affordable place for them to live and it is a familiar and comfortable environment. Most of our older adult homeowners are on their own or living with a spouse post retirement. Illness, mobility, and other circumstances have disconnected them from their prior social circles. Our volunteers not only provide critical home repairs to keep our homeowners safe, we also intentionally strive to build connections between our volunteers and the homeowners we serve. Many times, these relationships last long after the work is done.
“Over four decades of research has produced robust evidence that lacking social connection—and in particular, scoring high on measures of social isolation—is associated with a significantly increased risk for early death from all causes.” 2020 Consensus Study Report, National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine
I often get asked why Servants uses volunteers instead of contractors who might get jobs completed faster. The answer is that we intentionally use volunteers who can lay down their tools to share a meal with a homeowner or pray with them when they are carrying a heavy burden. This is far more important than getting the work done fast.
When we survey homeowners after we complete a project, they frequently tell us what impacted them the most is the relationship they built with our staff and volunteers, not the floor we repaired or bathroom we upgraded. It is through this intentional process of building relationships that we help alleviate loneliness, transform lives, and provide hope!
To read the full report from the Surgeon General follow this link: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/surgeon-general-social-connection-advisory.pdf