SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- In this new year, instead of just making a resolution to lose weight or stop smoking, why not also make a resolution to help others? After all, studies have shown that people who volunteer are happier, less stressed and enjoy a higher level of self-esteem.

Once you decide to volunteer, find a cause that is meaningful to you, and then sign up to make a difference. Unlike many other resolutions that are often broken within a month or two, you’ll find it’s much harder to break a promise to others, especially when they’re relying on you for their basic needs.

For adults, volunteering is a chance to meet other like-minded people and do something much different than their chosen career. It’s also an opportunity to learn a new skill, enrich your mind, and help your community.

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Volunteering is also a wonderful way for teens to try out different professions to help them decide what they may want to do in the future. For example, if they’re interested in medicine, they can join a local ambulance corps like the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad, or volunteer at a hospital. Or, if they think they may want to work in construction, they can help build homes with Habitat for Humanity.

The rewards of volunteering are not just experienced by the recipients, but by the givers as well. So, whatever your interests or talents, there is a cause looking for help. Some people find it easier to give money, which by all means is sorely needed and important. But it’s getting out there and joining with other people who have the same goals in mind that makes volunteering so meaningful.

For more information on volunteering for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad or to obtain an application, visit www.scotchplainsrescuesquad.com, email scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com, or call 908-322-2103.

Susan Baldani is a life member of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.