I once helped an old blind woman cross Queens Boulevard. And what nerve! She actually resisted my entreaty to help … which I ignored for her own good. Well, okay, she probably would have made it without me because she was hooked up to a guide dog. But, look, I wanted to help the dog, too. I don’t think ol’ Fido knew the light was gonna change so quickly. (I think he and all his brethren are color blind.) So I took control of the situation and all three of us survived the treacherous crossing which, if you know that road, has smitten many pensioners before us. I would have felt pretty guilty if something had happened to them and I hadn’t intervened. I’m glad I did it. And, you know what, I’ll tell ya something else: I felt pretty good doing it, despite the fact that I had to drag this old porpoise and her canine assistant kickin’ and screamin,’ ( they just didn’t get it about the light about to change).

Well, believe it or not, my good feelings about my good deed are supported by science. The evidence, based on some long term studies, suggest that those who help others help themselves. Yes, those that help actually increase their own life expectancy. No joke. Really! (From a Carnegie Mellon University study on volunteerism; June, 2013.) And longevity is only one of the perks. Other benefits from volunteering to help others include reduced stress, improved self-esteem, lower high blood pressure and, would you believe, fewer hospitalizations! That’s right. And add to all of that, the general satisfaction and fulfillment that your good turn brings. Also, it provides some sense of purpose for your life. It can enable you to finally attain some of that elusive ‘self-actualization’ that Maslow was talking about (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; famous 1943 paper). I mean the state of Nirvana will finally be within your reach (it’s somewhere between Montana and Idaho).

I’m not saying that giving is always better than receiving (I’d rather receive a thousand bucks than give a thousand bucks), but you can’t ignore all of these health benefits one accrues by participating in a program such as our’s. So, bottom line: Volunteering is heart healthy. More specifically, volunteering at Ping Pong Parkinson for an hour and a quarter a week can make you a centenarian. Guaranteed. (Full disclosure: You get a slice of pizza for free approximately every 3 months for volunteering at Ping Pong Parkinson. This may limit your longevity somewhat. You may only become a nonagenarian and live only until age 99. ) Lao Du