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As National Volunteer Month gets set to kick off this April, I asked Bob to share his experiences as a volunteer firefighter (something he has done for more than half of his life).
I have been a volunteer firefighter since I was 14 years old. It started out as something cool to do because my friends were doing it. Before long, I was mature enough to understand what I was giving back to my community and I knew that being a member of the fire company was going to be a lifelong commitment for me. Through the years I have made friends and learned skills that I can apply to my personal and professional life. I have taken courses to learn the science behind fires, how buildings are constructed, how to be a leader and make quick decisions, and so on. I have been part of committees and worked towards a group goal. I have learned how a business operates (just because they operate without profit as the goal, they are still businesses that need to stay afloat to continue to help) and how to be part of that operation. But more importantly, I have made a difference. I have helped people when they needed help. When I finally reached the maturity level to understand what that meant, the satisfaction that came along with it was overwhelming. So I keep going, because that feeling is awesome.
Now as I enter my 25th year of volunteering I can say that I can see the long-term differences that this organization, and other volunteer organizations, have made. I have seen the people that needed help, and got the help. I have seen young, immature individuals (such as my younger self) grow into leaders and positive role models in the community. I have watched our community grow and continue to grow at a time when we need it most. It’s amazing to watch people find a sense of value and become part of a team. Volunteers are people who make a difference and make the world around them better because of it.
I love that my kids see me volunteering and enjoy helping me with things like cleaning up the fire station on the weekends. This experience will help them see the need for volunteers and I hope it encourages them to volunteer as they get older with whatever organization speaks to them.
Now the negative side? Unfortunately, I have seen the number of volunteers over the years dwindle drastically. 25 years ago, if you didn’t live right next to the fire house (most volunteer firefighters respond from home), you may not have made the first truck to respond, or even the second or third for that matter. Today, it can be tough to fill that first truck and get it out the door. In the past, fundraising events were full of volunteers. Today, it can be tough to organize enough volunteers to organize the simplest fundraisers. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the last 15 years, the percentage of volunteers has continued to decline steadily and drastically to under 25%. That is only 1 in 4 people in the US volunteer their time to help others. Only 1 in 4 are giving back to their community. Only 1 in 4 are trying to make the world a better place.
Reward Volunteers is a way to link people that want to make a difference with organizations that need help making a difference. When you create a free account on their site, you can easily find organizations nearby that are looking for volunteers.
People are busy. But even 1 hour here or there can make an amazing difference to someone that needs help or an organization that needs support. I feel that too many people think that a donation solves so much (it does!!) but, without volunteers, the magic doesn’t happen. Rewards Volunteers is a great tool to help fill that void.
So, besides the chance to win prizes, why should you join Rewards Volunteers?
You can make a difference. Every little bit helps.
You can give back.
You can help others.
You can feel value and be part of a team.
You can gain skills.
You can make friends.
You can inspire others to volunteer.
You can boost your community.
YOU CAN DO IT!