What opportunities do you have? We want to highlight you in Sr. Perspective
By Jim Palmer
Some people have never volunteered for anything in their life. Others volunteer nearly every day of the year. For those who have actively volunteered, they have seen the benefits of volunteering... and the benefits definitely aren’t just for the people/organizations they are helping.
Volunteering gives the volunteers a boost in spirit and offers a type of joy that only seems to come when doing a selfless act like volunteering. And it is even good for your health. Experts report that volunteering reduces stress, strengthens your immune system, and improves your mood and optimism.
April is National Volunteer Month, and organizations often use this time of the year to recognize and honor their volunteers. I want to take this time to give a tip of the hat to all the volunteers out there. During my travels, I have run into, talked to, and taken pictures of hundreds (if not thousands) of volunteers featured in stories in the Senior Perspective. There are volunteers doing some really wonderful things out there.
I received this note from The St. Cloud Area Volunteer Coordinators (SCAVC), a membership group of professionals who work with volunteers in the greater St. Cloud area. They were looking to get this message out to volunteers as part of National Volunteer Week (April 16-23), but since we don’t really have a spot in the paper for “thank yous,” I’m going to include it in here. I also think it gets to the heart of what volunteering is all about...
“From the St. Cloud Area Volunteer Coordinators to all the volunteers in our communities who serve formally with an organization, church or other entity, and those who serve informally by helping a neighbor, picking up the trash along your walking route, or a wide variety of other possibilities… thanks! You are greatly appreciated and so are your contributions to the betterment of our communities! It is the generous spirit and actions of many citizens that help to improve our communities and the lives of the people in them. When volunteering, not only does the recipient of the time and tasks benefit, but the volunteer benefits as well. These benefits include staying healthier mentally and physically, increased social interaction, quality of life, cognitive stimulation and longevity, and many more.”
I think this thank you could go to every volunteer out there. But along with the thank yous, I think there also needs to be some education on just how important volunteers are to our communities. Think of all your favorite events, fairs, and festivals? Most of these would not happen without volunteers. Think of some of the improvements made to your community’s parks and main streets in the last 50 years. Most of these wouldn’t happen without volunteers. Think about some of the services that are provided in your community, from transportation to Meals on Wheels to church activities. Many of these wouldn’t happen without volunteers.
To give you an idea of how many people are chipping in to help, here are some stats on volunteers from Team Stage, an organization that compiled these numbers from six international surveys:
• Over one billion people volunteer worldwide
• One in four Americans volunteer
• Baby Boomers account for about 37% of all volunteers. Next are millennials, with about 25% of all volunteers globally
• People in the United States spend an average of 52 hours a year volunteering
• Statistically, Utah is the most generous state in the U.S. with 51% of the population reporting volunteer work. Minnesota is 2nd in the nation at 45.1%.
We know how important volunteers are, and I think we are all thankful to those who volunteer, but there is a third part of this column. And it is a biggie. The facts that I didn’t mention has to do with the effect that the Covid pandemic had on volunteerism. In large part due to Covid, 11% of volunteer organizations ceased operation in 2020 and 2021. And in talking with four different volunteer organizations this past month, it is clear there is a shortage of volunteers out there. All these groups were looking for ways to get the word out that more volunteers are needed to keep the services running smoothly (or to keep offering these services).
So... I would like to try to help.
This is a call out for all volunteer organizations in our distribution areas. If you are involved in a volunteer organization, please have someone fill out the questionnaire below and send it to me. All submissions will be used for an article in an upcoming edition later this spring/early summer. This article will give all non-profits and volunteer organizations an opportunity to get the word out on what their organization does, what volunteer opportunities are available, what you can do to help, and who you need to contact to get started. The deadline for submissions is April 30.
If we get a good turnout, this could be a very impactful article... so I encourage everyone involved in a volunteer-based organization to participate.
Volunteer Organization Questionnaire
Name of organization:
What service does your non-profit or volunteer organization provide?
How does this service help the communities you serve?
What volunteer opportunities are available?
What expectations/qualifications are expected of these volunteers?
Contact name, phone, email, address?
Optional: Comments from current volunteer about their volunteer experience:
• First Name of Volunteer:
• Why did you start volunteering here? (In their own words. Limit 50 words)
• Tell us about your experience? (In your own words. Limit 100 words)
• Would you recommend others to volunteer here? Why? (Limit 50 words)
Please email answers to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Senior Perspective, Attn: Jim Palmer, P.O. Box 1, Glenwood, MN 56334. Deadline for submission is April 30, 2023