Taking time to thank our volunteers

Volunteers all over the state are selflessly using their time and talent to make a difference in the communities they love. Selflessness though, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel good about yourself for helping others. Having a sense of pride and accomplishment or appreciating recognition doesn’t diminish your generosity or the impact you make. Volunteering isn’t a one-way street. The life that changes the most might end up being your own.

Every April, we dedicate one week to the millions of volunteers across the country. This week offers an opportunity to thank some of our most valuable assets – our volunteers. It gives us a chance to recognize the many ways they improve our community!

Minnesotans continue to be some of the most generous people in the country. Our state has large formal and informal networks of caring people that help their neighbors, friends, and ultimately, their entire community. Every day, thousands of volunteers across the state are using their time and compassion to support something or someone. Through crisis, turmoil, or unexpected loss, these are the unsung heroes that step in to make a difference and enrich a life. Whether it’s tutoring students at a local school, providing companionship to an older adult, delivering meals to those in need, or becoming a source of respite for a family caretaker, volunteers seize the opportunity to support those in their community during a time of need.

Every county, city and neighborhood in Minnesota has its share of struggles. Our students, elderly, homeless and hungry are helped every day by the wonderful volunteers that quietly serve our communities. Local non – profit agencies continuously work together to share resources, ideas, and to promote volunteerism. Agencies across the state are always looking for ways to champion their volunteers and the opportunities available for people looking to volunteer. Many organizations use local newspapers and online websites like www.volunteermatch.org to make people aware of specific needs and volunteer opportunities in their community.

With a busy life and our time already limited, Minnesotans are still proving to the rest of the country that we will always find time for those in need. If someone needs a meal, a ride, or just a friend, the volunteers in our state never hesitate to help.

Whether you are considering volunteering or will never volunteer, please thank those that do. Their actions are seen by few but impact many. A week in April is a great opportunity and reminder to recognize those that give, but it shouldn’t limit our praise and appreciation during the other 51.

Gail Sumerfelt is with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota/ Caregiver and Companion Services