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Volunteerism: Why it’s important to give back

The definition of volunteerism according to Dictionary.com is “the practice of volunteering one’s time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities.” Volunteers have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of Marshalltown, surrounding communities, and across the state of Iowa.

I have the privilege of working with many volunteer leaders who give back in a variety of ways – Chamber Ambassadors who participate in ribbon cuttings and courtesy calls with businesses throughout the area; board and committee members who provide meaningful input into the Chamber’s programs and strategic plan. There are dedicated individuals on a variety of boards, committees and organizations that I am personally involved in, who volunteer time to causes they are passionate about. I am constantly reminded of the critical work these individuals are performing to create a community we are proud to call home.

Multitudes of volunteer hours are committed by individuals at local schools, youth sports programs, the Iowa Veterans Home, Parks and Recreation, local non-profit boards, city and county commissions and others throughout the area. Those volunteer hours create incredible value to our community.

According to NonProfitSource.com, approximately 25 percent – or 63 million individuals – of the adult population volunteer their time, talents and energy to making a difference. The 2016 national value of volunteer time was $21.14 per hour, meaning Americans contribute $193 billion of their time to their communities.

What would our communities, parks, schools, places of worship, libraries and non-profit organizations look like without the time of these individuals? What basic needs would go unmet? What opportunities to grow, learn and thrive as a society would be lost? The truth is you likely cross paths with a volunteer at least once, if not several times a day. These volunteers are giving up their personal time to make Marshall County a better place to live, learn, work and play.

There are opportunities around every corner to give of your time and talents.

Whether you’re interested in helping children, connecting with veterans or cleaning up your own neighborhood, there are organizations looking for volunteers like you. Even just one hour a month can make a difference.

Volunteering is a great way to improve the community while at the same time developing skills, learning more about career options, making new friends, garnering new professional contacts or trying something new.

I encourage everyone to consider volunteering. Find a cause that is important to you and learn about ways to connect and make a difference. It has a lasting impact on the quality of life of our community.

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Lynne Olberding is the Director of the

Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce.

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