Can you be a Community Volunteer?

By Diane Ogbourne, Clarke County State Bank VP of PR

Being a long time volunteer in several organizations in Osceola has been a gratifying and heartwarming experience for me. I have met new people that I may not have met. I have made friends I may not have made. I have learned a lot about our community, and how things may or may not get accomplished. And all the time while learning, meeting new people and making friends, I have had FUN! When you watch an event unfold and hundreds of people enjoy what you have worked so hard at putting together, it is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. You can take pride in knowing that YOU played an important role in a very successful occasion. Have you ever thought, while sitting downtown on the 4th of July, how many man-hours it took to plan all of the daily happenings that you enjoy throughout the celebration? Have you ever wondered how organizations like the Osceola Chamber of Commerce achieve their goals each year? Volunteers make these things happen—many devoted people donate hundreds of hours each year to make our community “known” for its fantastic celebrations or events. While serving on committees in various organizations the same question arises--- Where do we find people and how can be get them involved? Health, family, work schedules, time constraints all come into play when thinking about volunteering—anyone that volunteers has those same concerns. How you work volunteering into your schedule or for what event(s) is a priority that only you can address.

These tips on volunteering were found in an article from the MainStreet Iowa organization and address issues that you may have if you are wondering—“Is volunteering for me?”

Ten Tips for Wise Volunteering. Research the causes or issues that are important to you. Look for a group which deals with issues about which you feel strongly. You might already be giving money to them---and that might be a good place to start a volunteer experience Consider the skills you have to offer. Does your job or hobby offer skills you can share as a volunteer? Consider volunteering as a family. When a family volunteers together, the experience can bring them closer together and teach children the value of giving their time and efforts. Plus working together can create a wonderful family memory! Would you like to learn something new? Seek a volunteer opportunity involving training in an unfamiliar skill. Realize that these opportunities may take a bigger time commitment for training. Don’t over-commit your schedule. Hectic lives are common today---make sure your volunteer hours fit into your schedule-don’t set yourself up for frustrations, exhaustion and short changing your family, yourself and the organization you are volunteering for. Nonprofits may have questions , too. Most non profits are eager to accept volunteers, but some of the larger ones actually have interviews and a volunteer application. I Never Thought Of That! Many groups which are looking for volunteers may not have occurred to you. Here are some you might think about: Day care centers, schools, fraternal organizations such as Rotary, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, retirement centers and homes for the elderly, Meals on Wheels, church sponsored groups, community art council, youth organizations, city recreation departments, parks departments, betterment groups, public libraries and historical museums, just to name a few. Give voice to your heart through your giving and volunteering! Bring your heart and sense of humor to volunteer service. Your enthusiastic spirit is a priceless gift to give any organization and what you get back will be immeasurable! Virtual Volunteering? Yes there is such a thing! If you have computer access and necessary skills consider these things: e-mailing a shut in on a daily basis to keep them in touch with the outside world, e-mailing people on “mailing lists” for donations of time or money for an organization, assist a person that is in the learning stages of internet use. Be a year-round volunteer! Volunteers aren’t just needed at times of holidays or community celebrations—the need never ends for volunteers. We all need to be aware that making our communities better is a 365-day-a- year responsibility—and there is ALWAYS something we could be doing to help.

Willing volunteers please call Lacey Nish, Director of Osceola Chamber-Mainstreet—she will add you to the Community Volunteer List maintained by OCMS. If you remember only one thing from this article—let it be this: Volunteering is Fun!