By: Monica Heidman
I’ve been into volunteering for quite some time now. It all started when I was lucky enough to get a job at Lutheran Brotherhood. For those of you that are not familiar with “LB” as us, employees referred to it as, it was a non-profit life insurance and annuity company based inMinneapolis,MN. It was a great place to work and I hear it still is, however, it is now called Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, as LB merged with Aid Association for Lutherans in Appleton, WI, and that is how so many of us were displaced, much to our chagrin.
Anyway, volunteering took off for me while working for this non-profit, as you might imagine a non-profit would be into volunteer activities! I did various volunteer duties with Habitat for Humanity (Helping Build Homes), Little Red Stocking (Stuffing Stockings), American Cancer Society (Selling daffodils), a soup kitchen (which I cannot remember the name of) and of course United Way (A week long festivity raising money for local and national charities) while I was employed by LB for almost 7 years. I enjoyed helping the community like I never knew I would! I have also done service with St. Jude’s through the K102 radiothon and also was involved as the co-chair for ourUnited Waycampaign while employed through a local HMO after I was laid off from LB. My longest consecutive volunteer experience was a few summers ago at the Minnesota Zoo. I am an animal lover, so it was a natural thing for me and I wasn’t working, but still wanted to do “something”. I so enjoyed educating kids and adults alike on everything from Amoeba to Zebra! I was there every Tuesday for the entire summer and I was lucky enough to be there during a summer when we had the giraffes! I loved every moment, but when I could be up close and personal with the giraffes and their keepers, was the total highlight! I did however, love my time watching the Grizzly’s and the Dolphins play!
No matter how much joy and personal well-being I derived from these activities, I still find something new to give my time to!
This past weekend, we were given an opportunity to volunteer at the Special Olympics in Stillwater,MN and a few of us here, past and present employees at Huber Universal Services, jumped at the chance to partake in this fantastic organization! Jen at Reliable Property Services was in charge of the booth this year through IREM (Institute of Real Estate Management) and sent out a call for help. Derek Reis and I, Emily May (who was job-sharing with me last summer) and her sister, Amy, whole-heartedly raised our hands, showed up and dove in to our duties last Saturday afternoon!
We were at the Pot-a-Plant area in the Olympic Village, where the participants and families were able to take a break in their athletics and do various activities and enjoy some entertainment! We helped the athletes and their families, pot a plant to take home and water and watch grow!
Everyone, young and old, were very excited to get their hands a little dirty to take home a plant of their own! It was such a rewarding experience for the four of us ranging in age 39-18, also! A great time was had by all and I will chalk it up to another very enjoyable volunteer experience!
The moral being, if you have never volunteered or it’s been a while, or even if you are a regular like me, keep giving to the community, in whichever way you can! Our time is so valuable these days, but don’t forget to give some up to those less fortunate than yourselves, it will mean the world to others and you will gain so much self-respect in the process! Volunteering is definitely a win-win!