Google the benefits of volunteering, and the consensus is that it’s good for you! National Volunteer Week is April 23-29 this year - a time when non-profit organizations express appreciation for the many ways that volunteers help our organizations. It’s also a perfect time to consider volunteering if you’ve never tried it!
Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful connections with fellow community members and organizations. Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum appreciates the help of volunteers with everything from clerical tasks and other behind-the-scenes activities to interacting with the public on a daily basis and at events. As coordinator of volunteers at Vesterheim, I understand what a valuable asset volunteers are, and I see National Volunteer Week as an opportunity to highlight this beyond the museum.
Numerous area organizations rely on volunteers; too many to list here. The Northeast Iowa RSVP Volunteer Program housed at the Decorah Public Library can be a good place to find out more. They work with volunteers age 55 and up, and have grown from a pool of 65 to over 300 active volunteers since the program started in 2001. Although regular, long-term volunteer commitments are available, many opportunities for volunteering are occasional, where the few hours you can offer would be exactly what is needed.
Ideally, the proper volunteer equation is a great match of the right person, at the right time, at a task they enjoy. Just ask someone you know who already volunteers. They’ll tell you it’s great to feel useful, to have contact with the public or with populations who need help, and they’ll probably also say they benefit as much as the organizations they work with.
Organizations that utilize volunteer help sometimes mention the dollar value of volunteer service. There is certainly an economic aspect to volunteer involvement, but another way to look at it is that volunteers amplify what an organization can do. Whether for an educational, social service, or cultural institution, the participation of volunteers offers a qualitative value that is priceless!
All of us have the choice of how to spend our discretionary hours. By choosing to give volunteer hours, you can contribute meaningfully to the community and by extension, to the quality of life in the region.
Volunteerism is a great strength of Midwestern culture. Tap into it!