Churches and schools, emergency responders and the borough government, all function and serve the community because of volunteers. Volunteers man the voting polls, keep the Food Pantry and Shoe Bank operating and welcome visitors to the History Center. They help provide shelter and food for the homeless. They beautify our town with flowers and with clean-ups. Volunteers keep the library open. We need volunteers to make our community a healthy, safe and an enriching place to live. But, what about the person doing the volunteering? Why do they choose to give their time and energy to a project? What makes someone want to volunteer?
I asked nineteen volunteers of different ages “Why do you volunteer?” The following are my unscientific findings from the interviews.
First of all, a common thread appeared in most answers. “To serve the community” and “to give back”. Several mentioned that it is a good thing to do for the community. Students from a local school talked about helping others, and that it helps you, too. Another volunteer mentioned making others happy, and another said it gives hope. One person I spoke with had recently lost his spouse and he talked about the importance of needing a reason to leave the house. He found that spending time with, and working with others was helpful in dealing with his grief. He also spoke of the friendships created and fun he has when volunteering. A mom who home-schools makes a point to have her children volunteer. She said that she wants them to understand at an early age how they can make a difference for another person. One last quote was “Building points for Heaven!”
Who doesn’t want to make friends, be a part of a team, or feel good about giving back to your community? Seek out a volunteer opportunity that will match your passion or your skills to a job that needs to be done for others. Check with local organizations to see what projects they may have that need volunteers. Call the Chamber of Commerce, read the local paper or go on-line to find opportunities. Mansfield University has a list of local volunteer opportunities at mansfield.edu/community-service2/how-to-get-involved.cfm. You might even create a new way to help others just as a community member did during the pandemic. She became aware of the need for someone to do shopping and errands for those who could not leave their homes so she mobilized her friends and created a group to help shut-ins!
Why volunteer? Because it can change your life in more positive ways than you would ever expect!
Writing: Deb Bastian
Produced by Vogt Media