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Uniting for a Happy and Healthy Life

Many United Way Young Leaders have called the Richmond & Petersburg region “home” all their lives. Others, like me, moved to RVA and had to seek out the friends and connections needed to build a long and healthy life here. When I first moved here, I was working from home and had exactly two friends in the area. After a particularly long Netflix marathon, I knew I needed to get some more human interaction and fast. Luckily, one of my two friends told me about United Way Young Leaders and I came out to a few of their evening events. It was a reminder that my life is better when I give, advocate and volunteer with others. I eventually took a position at United Way, so I get to do this fulltime but we can all invite others to unite for a happy and healthy life for all in our community.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy for some older adults in our community to make it out and about. 29% of older adults in our region live alone, which puts them at risk for social isolation. This not only affects their wellbeing, it can affect their physical health. Being social isolated is a greater health risk than smoking 15 cigarettes daily! It even has a negative consequence equal to being obese. Looking at the 2016 County Health Rankings for 134 localities in Virginia, Richmond and Petersburg rank 131st and 134th out 134 respectively, so we have some work to do making a region more connected and healthier. To that aim, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg is working to eliminate isolation for 25,000 at-risk older adults and people with disabilities by 2020. With United Way Young Leaders Society, you can support our efforts to make systemic change with this bold goal and have a direct tangible impact on one individual through volunteering.

Join us for United Way Young Leaders Volunteer Opportunity, Forming Connections for Better Health, on Tuesday September 20, 2016. Find out more and register. Better yet, go one step further. Reach out to friend to join you at this opportunity or our upcoming Think + a Drink: RVA Gives a Darn happy hour, you will be improving their health and yours! Now that I am happily settled in Richmond, I am so glad my friend reached out to me to join United Way Young Leaders because we all need social connections for a happy and healthy life.

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About the Author : Emily Watkins


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