Written by Katelyn Regenscheid, St. Olaf intern
People have engaged in charity for centuries, whether it be feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, or otherwise supporting those who need it. Sadly, as our minds become more distracted (laundry, deadlines, Mom’s birthday, committee meeting, spreadsheets), one of the first items we tend to forget is giving back. However, we urge you to reignite your passion for volunteerism to lace up those work boots (metaphorical or not).
The benefits of volunteering are felt by volunteers, the people they serve, and the community as a whole. As reported by the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteering can positively impact your physical health. Additionally, volunteering is good for the economy: each volunteer hour is worth more than $22.
Communities of all shapes and sizes benefit from the positive effects of volunteerism. For example, Northfield’s own Defeat of Jessie James Days provides connections between neighbors, economic stimulation for local businesses, and the positive health effects of a thriving community. The community event (and ones like it all across Minnesota) are made possible by a small army of volunteers, who make their own social and business connections through their work.
Since we all know volunteerism is wonderful, why don’t we do it more often? How can we help engage more people in this health-promoting, economic-boosting, personally fulfilling activity? As summer fades, kids head back to school, and holiday food drives start up, take time to consider how you will give back. Perhaps you and your colleagues will spend a couple hours serving soup rather than attending happy hour. Maybe business owners will partner with local non-profits by raising funds or donating services. Volunteering takes so many shapes, and we are inspired by the people around us who creatively and consistently give back.
The Northfield community is one that seems to recognize the value of giving back. For example, some community members have taken to sharing joy with their neighbors who have special needs. These volunteers bring their furry friends to visit the members of Laura Baker Services, who experience great joy at the chance to form emotional connections to pets they might not have otherwise met. Additionally, volunteers at the Community Action Center have helped 3,500 of our neighbors. If you’re looking for more ways to get involved, check out https://www.volunteermatch.org/.
Tell us your story: how do you/your business volunteer your time, money, or services?