A community is not a place, building, organization, or an exchange of information over the internet, it is a feeling and a set of relationships among people. However, research suggests that individuals across North America crave more meaningful community and social interactions, but have difficulty finding ways to do that. Jeff Ber believes that community volunteering and learning about the causes important to our neighbors can not only strengthen communal ties but can allow us all to lead richer, fuller lives.
As an entrepreneur and the Vice President of Operations at Oneball, an organization dedicated to providing meaningful support for people who have testicular cancer, Jeff Ber is passionate about volunteering and wants to share how his personal experience with testicular cancer fueled his passion for raising awareness for a meaningful cause.
The Dangers Of Social Isolation
Social isolation and loneliness are on the rise across North America. According to a study in the American Sociological Review, the average person has only one close friend and one in four people have no confidantes at all. In addition, 75 percent of people say they are unsatisfied with the friendships that they do have. Jeff Ber explains that this growing lack of community and increased social isolation can be dangerous.
Loneliness has been alleged to have the same impact on our life expectancy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. A lack of social interaction can also speed up cognitive decline, and increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, heart disease, depression, and suicide. So how do we combat this growing epidemic of loneliness in North America? Jeff Ber believes the solution lies in building opportunities for social interaction and connection through volunteering, community engagement, and awareness.
Volunteering Leads To Enhanced Social Connections
Volunteering is a great way to become more socially connected to your local community; it has the potential to enrich your life, allow you to familiarize yourself with your neighborhood, and connect you to people and ideas that can have a positive impact on your perspective and worldview. Helping your community is an opportunity for you to grow as a person, and to better understand those around you.
Community work has always been important to Jeff Ber for these reasons. From 2013-15 he served as a Campaign Volunteer for the United Jewish Appeal, reaching out to members in the community to raise funds for the less fortunate. However, a debilitating cancer diagnosis was what encouraged Jeff Ber to embark on the journey he is on now.
Jeff Ber And His Organization Oneball
When Jeff Ber received his terminal diagnosis of testicular cancer, it changed his life forever. However, it was early on that he made the decision he was not going to give up. Jeff was fueled by the same sense of determination that fueled his career, which allowed him to defy the odds and defeat cancer. While he is now cancer-free, he wanted to use his story, experience, and platform to impact and change the lives of others.
Driven by his own journey with testicular cancer, Jeff Ber joined the Oneball team as Vice President of Operations. Oneball prides itself on being an unconventional testicular cancer charity that vows to break down the barriers of stigma surrounding men’s health. The mission and values of Oneball are uniquely conversational, taking an approach that fuels positivity through personality; this approach aims to remind patients that a diagnosis does not have to change who you are.
Sharing his personal story, Jeff Ber strongly believes that others can enjoy the same cancer-free success — despite the odds. Nicknamed “the backbone of Oneball” by his brothers (and sisters!) on the Executive Team, Jeff Ber is prepared to go to battle for patients diagnosed with testicular cancer, and is incredibly proud to be a part of this organization.
The Benefits Of Volunteering
With over a decade of experience specializing in business management, Jeff Ber believes everyone can use their current skillset to provide support to their local community. Unsurprisingly, volunteering can have numerous benefits to the individual. Donating your time to support those around you can be extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health. Research shows that people who volunteer throughout their lifetimes tend to live longer and have better psychological well-being.
In addition to the health benefits, volunteering gives people a sense of purpose and fulfillment unrivaled by other acts of service, teaching you patience, kindness, compassion, and resilience. Giving back is also a great way to combat social isolation and loneliness, allowing you to meet your local community, working alongside them towards a common goal. Additionally, Jeff Ber explains that it can help you better understand the circumstances of other members of your community.
How To Get Involved
So how can you get personally involved with your community or with a cause that is meaningful to you? Jeff Ber suggests starting by connecting with a local community center, learning about their initiatives, events, and programs. Your local municipality may also have a community hub or resource that keeps you up to date on the greatest areas of need. Ber suggests getting in touch with your local United Way, who fund local charities and non-profits, to understand where the greatest needs in your community lie.
Whether you’re passionate about taking care of the elderly, feeding the homeless, or running fundraising events, there are always people and organizations in need where your time could be valuably spent.
Once you have an opportunity to learn about the issues important to your community, Ber explains that there is a great strength in advocacy work and awareness. Becoming involved with your community through volunteering is fantastic, but advocacy is a way to connect even more members of the community with the cause.
For Jeff Ber, creating awareness about testicular cancer through Oneball not only builds community consciousness of the issue but actively brings disparate groups of people together. If community engagement is the product or service, outreach, and awareness is like marketing, channeling people towards it.
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