April 26, 2017
The last week of April is recognized as National Volunteer Week.
"I was 8, in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey," says KVH Volunteer Director Karen Schock. "My Girl Scout troop did a community cleanup of Main Street on a spring weekend."
It’s Shock’s first memory of volunteering, and she’s been at it ever since. Today, she oversees a group of about 65 adult volunteers serving in a variety of roles at Kittitas Valley Healthcare.
While volunteers bring a clear benefit to organizations of all sizes in the form of free and willing labor, studies have shown that volunteerism can benefit individuals, as well, including those who struggle with depression.
Schock agrees that volunteering has healthy benefits. "It's a way to stay engaged, and interact with a work family. Depression tends to make people isolate and feel like they have nothing to give. Volunteering shows them 'I'm valuable. I can contribute. My experience means something.'"
Schock is always looking for new volunteers, who typically apply by letter for open positions posted on the KVH website. Candidates all get the same advice: "You need to be willing to commit,” she says. “Volunteer positions are weekly roles, filled by well-trained people who are an integral part of KVH work teams.”
Once they come on board, it doesn’t take long before volunteers realize they’ve found a new calling, and they let Schock know. "They love it. Across the board, the thing our volunteers have in common is a love for helping others. And they get plenty of opportunity, serving at the hospital."
Of course, this goes far beyond KVH. In 2015, 62.6 million people volunteered at organizations in the United States. Volunteers are serving everywhere, and each April we recognize them and celebrate their contributions during Volunteer Week. The national campaign is organized by the Points of Light Foundation – its name taken from a memorable presidential address, excerpted below.
A Call to Serve
This Volunteers Week, take time to thank the volunteers in your life, and, if you haven’t already, find your own way to serve. You’ll thank yourself for it.
“We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a Thousand Points of Light. And it is expressed by all who know the irresistible force of a child's hand, of a friend who stands by you and stays there, a volunteer's generous gesture, an idea that is simply right.
“The problems before us may be different, but the key to solving them remains the same. It is the individual - the individual who steps forward. And the state of our Union is the union of each of us, one to the other - the sum of our friendships, marriages, families, and communities.
“We all have something to give. So, if you know how to read, find someone who can't. If you've got a hammer, find a nail. If you're not hungry, not lonely, not in trouble, seek out someone who is. Join the community of conscience. Do the hard work of freedom. And that will define the state of our Union.”
-President George H. W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 29, 1991
Corporation for National & Community Services
The Caring Cure: Can Helping Others Help Yourself?
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