Volunteering: It's what Minnesotans do
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
This week I met Jan McDonell. She’s the coordinator at RSVP, an organization that connects volunteers with volunteer opportunities. She stopped into my office at the News-Chronicle to discuss an idea she had about featuring volunteers and volunteer opportunities in the paper. I loved it.
Perhaps you’ve already noticed a theme emerging in the News-Chronicle. It wasn’t intentional. I mean, we didn’t sit down and decide to write a story about a volunteer each week. It just happened because it’s volunteers who are behind the scenes planning the events we all enjoy or making sure people, places and critters get the help and care they need. Where there is community, there are volunteers. Since we are a community paper, those are the stories we tell — stories about you, your neighbors and all the good things that result when people care for one another.
In Minnesota, volunteering is what we do. It must be something in the water ...or snow. In fact, Minnesota is third in the nation for volunteerism.
When I was growing up, we didn’t call it volunteering. We just called it “helping out” or “pitching in.” Jan said that when she moved to Two Harbors three years ago she and her husband started volunteering at the library and over time she met many other volunteers in the community — many of whom had been volunteers for decades. Now, some of the folks who donned the mantle of responsibility years ago are no longer able to do so. Their shoes are not easy to fill, to be sure, but Jan assures me, that there is a shoe for every kind of foot — a volunteer opportunity for anyone who is willing.
Perhaps the subject of volunteerism is near and dear to my heart because I used to work in the non-profit sector. I know that many organizations are trying to make the most of every penny. In this economy, however, the numbers and needs of clients can quickly outstrip resources. But, did you know that every hour donated by a volunteer is equivalent to over twenty dollars? At the end of a month, the two hours you spend volunteering each week frees $160 dollars for another purpose. But of course, we all know that the greatest gift and greatest reward of volunteering has nothing to do with dollars and cents.
For that reason, the Lake County News-Chronicle is going to make a regular feature of local volunteers and volunteer opportunities. Like I said, we’ve really already been doing it, but now we will do so more consciously. We want to make it easier for you to share your time and talent with others. We’ll tell you about organizations seeking volunteers, give you an idea of what kind of help is needed, provide the contact information and show you friends and neighbors who have found their niche as volunteers. You decide what you’d like to do and make the call. Pretty simple, right? C’mon, someone is waiting just for you.
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