April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month. It is a time to reflect on those who give their time and skill on a voluntary basis and also to think about what we ourselves can do. National Volunteer Week is April 10-16, 2016 and was established by President Nixon in 1974.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 64 million people volunteered at least once between September 2010 and September 2011. Since 1989, the number of people who volunteer has increased by 60% and older Americans from the Baby Boom generation are 40 percent more likely to volunteer than the same age groups were in 1989.
There are many ways corporations support their employees in volunteering. Apple, for example, matches up to $25 per hour of non-profit work for a total cap of $10,000 per employee. This encourages people to spend time volunteering and pays them to do so. It also allows them to choose to volunteer with organizations that are important to them individually. But companies can encourage their employees in ways that are not as expensive. They can match at a lower hourly rate or tell their employees they can take up to 5 or 10 days, in addition to regular vacation days, per year off as long as they are spending those days volunteering at an approved organization.
There are other benefits of volunteering, besides the knowledge of doing good. Volunteering is also a path to employment. According to a 2013 study issued by the Corporation for National Community Service, volunteers have 27% higher odds of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers. This may be due to volunteers gaining skills, experience and contacts which may lead to employment
So what are some ways you can get involved? A brief internet search turned up some volunteering opportunities here in Bloomington/Normal and I have listed them below:
- Give Blood to The American Red Cross.
- Volunteer at an Animal Rescue, such as Wishbone Canine Rescue. Wishbone often needs donations of pet food as well, they usually need specific brands for specific needs so it’s best to subscribe to their emails on their website www.wishbonecaninerescue.org that will let you know of needs they have.
- Volunteer at the Mclean County Health Department.
The Mclean County MRC is made up of local volunteers with medical and non-medical backgrounds who are willing to help during public health emergencies. They are given training opportunities to be prepared for when disaster strikes their family, friends and neighbors. Examples of medical volunteers include physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, mental health professionals, EMS professionals and other public health professionals. Non-medical volunteers can include a variety of specialties such as interpreters, clergy, office support staff, legal advisors, radio operators and counselors. Non-medical volunteers are also highly regarded as an able pair of hands to assist where needed. These individuals play a vital role in times of emergency and non-emergency, such as:
- Promote disease prevention through education and community outreach efforts
- Participate in local emergency exercises and drills
- Assist local hospitals and health departments during a disaster or emergency
- Provide support to local emergency response partners.
The YMCY-RSVP volunteer program offers individuals over the age of 55 the chance to volunteer their time and skills. At the Mclean County Health Department these volunteers provide a variety of services including filing, labeling, combine paper packets, organize materials and much more. They also provide the man-power for special projects.College students can volunteer in at the health department to learn the different facets of public health. While the office tasks are similar to YWCY-RSVP, students are provided more opportunities to learn by shadowing MCHD employees, attending health fairs or meetings. Students may volunteer in divisions such as Environmental Health, Woman Infants and Children (WIC) and Health Education. Nursing and nutrition students from Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University often volunteer in MCHD’s clinics.
True Clean Restoration would like to thank all those who volunteered their time this year to make our world a better place.