Archive for Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Volunteerism on the rise

April 11, 2012

There are hundreds of “special weeks” observed annually and they all honor good causes. However, one of the most important will be April 15-April 21 which is set aside to recognize and honor volunteers. We are very fortunate to live in communities that are aided by hundreds of men and women who give of their time and expertise to provide a variety of services.

I have always referred to Bonner Springs as the “volunteer capital of Kansas.” I believe that is a true statement, yet the more I checked both Edwardsville and Basehor are well represented with probably hundreds of persons who serve in volunteer posts. Fortunately there are volunteer opportunities in all communities.

You are not alone if you are a volunteer and live in Kansas. According to the latest figures 765,800 Kansans serve in volunteer positions. This means that 35.8 percent of Kansas residents volunteer their time, and this total ranks 7th among states. Kansans donate more than 87 million hours annually to volunteer service. Incidentally, Kansans are more likely to volunteer than residents of Missouri. They rank 22nd among the states in terms of volunteerism.

Nationally, volunteerism is increasing. In 2011, 26.8 percent of Americans served as volunteers. That is up by .5 percent from 2010. It is interesting to note that 42 percent of college graduates volunteer their time to help others. The percentage of volunteers climbs as persons become older. This is probably due to getting involved in youth activities with their children. Among all age groups, retired persons have the highest percentage of volunteerism, probably because they have more time available to serve.

Cities have many service opportunities, and one is set for Saturday, April 14, which is the annual clean-up day in Bonner Springs. Volunteers will meet at South Park and spend the morning picking up trash along the streets and highways. More information is available by calling city hall. The event is a good example of people of all ages working together to aid a common cause.

If you think about it, there are thousands of opportunities to serve and help with youth activities. You can work as a leader with the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H or Camp Fire Girls. Age isn’t a factor. While I know older guys who help with campouts, that’s not for me. Despite that, I can and do serve as a merit badge counselor for the Citizenship badges. No matter what your talents are, they can be used to help youth. Local schools have volunteers who come in an hour or so a day to help children with reading or math.

The list of volunteer activities goes on and on. The area has a variety of outstanding service clubs that carry out tremendous projects. No discussion of volunteer service would be complete without mentioning Vaughn-Trent Community Service. While they are best known for their Christmas basket program, they provide services all year long.

I suppose the obvious question is what rewards does one get for volunteering? While there are usually no intrinsic rewards, you do receive the satisfaction of making the area a better place. But, there are more important rewards. One of the most important rewards is the friendships you develop. Working together for the common good develops strong bonds.

I firmly believe that I have received more from my volunteer service than I have given. I will continue to be a volunteer for as many years as I can and would urge you to consider becoming part of that great army of volunteers who work to make the world a better place. A good way to start would be to join the Bonner Springs city-wide clean up on Saturday, April 14, starting at 8:30 a.m. at South Park. I hope to see a great turn out!

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