Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Volunteer Much?

The first thing I heard in the way of news today was that the State of Utah is #1 when it comes to volunteering. I'm really proud to tell you that NEBRASKA rates just behind Utah, coming in at #2!

Volunteering is fun, so that's the big draw for me. If something isn't fun, I won't be interested for any length of time.

There's more than fun in volunteering, though. Volunteers live longer. That can be for a variety of reasons--the social networking aspect of volunteering is good for your health and your immune system. People who volunteer are likely to have lower blood pressure and fewer immune disturbances. Besides, volunteers really widen their horizons.

Our tiny town has so many opportunities for people who want to help others by volunteering. We have churches who step up to deliver Meals on Wheels. We have a Faith In Action foundation whose mission is to assist people as they age. We have a Volunteer Fire Department with volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians and we have a service club similar to Kiwanis; and military groups: a Veterans of Foreign Wars club and auxiliary. You should see how they spiffed up their new building! It was all done by volunteer labor!

There are people who help by volunteering at the local nursing home and hospital. We have a festival every year that has creative, devoted volunteers to plan and execute its functions. Our little town even has a museum. You just need to call the volunteer caretaker and make an appointment for a visit.

There is an active rural group called Southeast Nebraska Grassland Pasture Association. It's made up of volunteers who conduct "pasture walks" to learn from one another how to be better stewards of the earth.

I am fortunate to be a volunteer at our local state prison, Tecumseh State Correctional Facility. There are a number of people in our community who volunteer regularly for their religious activities; I am a sponsor for LibOrators, an International Toastmaster club which teaches speaking and leadership skills.

All of our local church groups have various opportunities for volunteer service. Sunday school classes, governing boards and such like. There are 4-H Clubs and ball teams with volunteer coaches...the list of opportunities is amazing!

Our Action Center has a volunteer Board of Directors. The Action Center makes sure people have enough to eat and clothing to wear. The food and clothing comes from volunteers who donate their time and resources.

Even in our tiny town of 1700 population much gets accomplished because of volunteerism. And we have not even discussed the Rosies who walk to a friend's home to check on their welfare. Or the Ineses who make it their life's work to see so their frail and elderly friends are safe. Or the Bobs who scoop the snow from the sidewalk and never charge a penny for his effort. What about the Norms and Janets and Karens and Joyces and Nancys and Charlenes who serve their churches because they can and because they care and because they feel it's the right thing to do?

If we took these volunteers out of the equation...it would be a sad, lonely, expensive world and I don't think it would be much fun. What do YOU think?

Connie Baum

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