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Make a Difference Through Volunteering

Make a Difference Through Volunteering

As 2020 begins to wind down and the holiday season approaches, many people look forward to spreading good cheer and good will by volunteering for local agencies. When you are at your permanent home in your community, chances are you already have your favorite charity or local non-profit that will benefit from your generosity. But what do you do when you are traveling in your RV? Is there a way to volunteer traveling across the country?

The answer is yes.

According to a study conducted by the Corporation for National & Community Service, one out of every four Americans volunteer – 62.8 million people. Because of volunteers, non-profit organizations meet their annual goals and deliver services or assistance to those who need it. There is also evidence that volunteering can improve the volunteer’s health. These health benefits include strengthening the physical body, utilizing the mind, improving mood and lessening stress.

The top five areas of need that attract the most volunteers are: religious organizations, including churches; sports, hobby or cultural organizations; education or youth services; civic, political, professional or international groups; in hospitals or for other health care agencies; public safety; and environmental and animal care organizations.

Here are some suggestions to make a difference whether at home or on the road.

  • Reach out to the National or State parks where you will be camping to see if there are things you can do. The National Park Service operates a program that allows the public to sign up for volunteer opportunities. Many of the national parks have a “Friends” organization that is a great resource for finding out what may be needed.
  • To volunteer at a park, it doesn’t have to be through a formal program. Simple tasks like picking up litter and debris from trails is a way to make a difference. Depending on the time of the year, the park rangers may need help with annual bird counts, removing invasive species, clearing underbrush or other tasks. You can spend an hour or two or several days; that choice is up to you.
  • If you are staying for a prolonged time in a community, look for ways to show your appreciation to the local folks who have become your neighbors. Collect non-perishables to leave with a food pantry in the neighborhood, or maybe even organize a campground food drive. Help out at a local event, such as a community fund raiser, fair, festival or other local happening. People willing to lend a hand at this kind of events is always appreciated by organizers.
  • Partner with Habitat for Humanity to work on one of the houses being built for deserving families throughout the nation. While the RV Care-A-Vanners has been suspended because of COVID-19, it is an option for those who would like to use their construction, carpentry or home repair skills or for those who want to gain new skills. Whether it is painting a wall or hanging drywall, this type of volunteer opportunity is hard work, but for many, it is also tremendously rewarding.
  • Connect with your faith’s national council to find opportunities at churches in other areas. There are many faith-based organizations that need volunteers to help in communities all over. Perhaps your home church has a missions program that you can sign up for, or find a national organization online. Some of these include Nomads on a Mission Active in Divine Service – NOMADS with the United Methodist Church; Servants on Wheels Every Ready – SOWERS; Mission Builders ELCA with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Ready Volunteers for Christ, among others.

To find places to volunteer in local communities, try the Chambers of Commerce, United Way offices, Facebook pages, and local offices of national organizations, such as the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross.

When you become a volunteer, know that your time is valuable. The average value associated with an hour of volunteer time equals $24.14, according to an Independent Sector Study.

A successful volunteer is reliable, flexible, and committed to the cause they select. They are also a team player who is willing to do what is asked. They should have a good attitude, be polite and reach out to make connections with other volunteers. Working together is a bonding experience.

Make a difference, have fun and become a volunteer. Not only will you create a positive effect on the community, you will benefit from the effort.

Aug 27th 2020 Lois Tomaszewski

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