Building a strong community through volunteering
Ronald Reagan once said, “No matter how big and powerful government gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers”. As we fight to reign in the size and scope of our national government, I am reminded that the strength of our communities doesn’t lie in what our government provides for us; it is about the quality and character of good, hardworking people and the bond we have with one another to help those in need.
I have talked to many people who have expressed the desire to volunteer but did not know where to start. When starting a new endeavor like volunteering with an organization or joining a group, it can be difficult to know where to begin, so I wanted to help out by providing some information I find useful when I want to spend some time giving back to the community. It is important to find an organization that aligns your passions with someone else’s needs, and Indiana has a volunteer website that can help plug you in to an area you are passionate about. I encourage you to visit Indiana’s volunteer website at www.in.gov/ofbci/volunteer.
I also wanted to give you some information on a few of my favorite volunteering organizations. A great organization to start with is the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross recently reported that there is a severe shortage of blood donations with the national level of donation at a 15 year low. Volunteers are desperately needed to refill their reserves and to help those in need. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and donations are crucial to saving lives after violent accidents, chemotherapy treatments, surgeries and other medical procedures. For those who are interested in welcoming donors at blood drives and thanking them at the refreshment area, please visit www.redcross.org/find-your-local-chapter.
If you have a passion for feeding the hungry then check out Meals on Wheels. This organization delivers nutritional meals to elderly, disabled and homebound members of the community who are not able to cook food for themselves. There are numerous volunteer opportunities in the Meals on Wheels program, though specific openings will vary from one location to another. To find out more about Meals on Wheels visit www.mowaa.org/findameal.
For those of you that want to have a direct impact on the lives of children in our community, check out the Boys & Girls Club. The mission of the Boys & Girls Club is to enable all young people, especially those who need a positive influence most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. Many times these kids need someone to talk to them, guide them and most importantly care about them. Many of the clubs provide healthy meals for hungry kids and are always in need of volunteers to lend a hand in the kitchen. If you are great with school work and have a patient heart then apply to be a tutor for students needing help with homework. Tutors provide one-on-one assistance to ensure the kids are reaching their full potential. To apply to be a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club go to www.bgca.org.
We are very fortunate to have so many opportunities to give back to such a great community. Please visit www.volunteermatch.org for a more comprehensive list of local volunteer opportunities.
Volunteering is a selfless act that is vital to the strength of our community and can change lives. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”. We are all passionate about certain things in life and connecting that passion with an outreach program or a volunteer opportunity can go a long way to making a difference. Everyone has the chance to impact the community, so discover your volunteer niche and dive in. You may not always see it, but your actions can help countless others.