Saturday, January 30, 2010

Volunteering has its rewards

General Manager Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff joyfully holds up the Drum Maker for Peace Award. Scot Bol of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee presented the organization with the award at the rally in the DECC auditorium on Jan. 18. From left to right are board members: Rosemary Hampton, Allegra Henderson, Scott Yeazle, Bruce Howell, Claudie Washington, Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff and Scot Bol.

Volunteering can be interesting, boring, frustrating, a lot of work; and sometimes make you proud

There are numerous ways people volunteer in their community. Some of us volunteer as sports coaches, some are called to be lay clergy, mentors for troubled youth, or perhaps we just shovel the walks for the elderly couple next door.

I volunteer as a board member for this community newspaper. I also am a volunteer during Grandma’s Marathon at a water station and donate my time as an officer in a local professional society. I’ve helped build sandbag flood-control dikes in North Dakota and packaged food for disaster relief. Sometimes volunteering is interesting, sometimes boring, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes just hard physical work. However, this past month, I was proud to be a volunteer. Not because of something I did personally, but because of my affiliation with two organizations that won awards.

The Hillsider won the “Drum Major for Peace Award” in recognition for being an important communication instrument and advocate for people living in Duluth’s core neighborhoods. Also in the same month, the engineering society where I serve as an officer received an “Outstanding Small Section Award” from our regional leaders.

Recognition for volunteering sometimes comes after long periods of hard work, or in the case of some artists and activists, after death. Probably most often, volunteers are not recognized at all. I suspect no one does volunteer work for the awards - they are just too infrequent. We each have our reasons for volunteering. In my case, it might have helped me fill time after an unwanted divorce. Or perhaps, I just welcomed the challenges of a leadership opportunity. Whatever the reason, I don’t regret my decision to volunteer my time. It helped me as well as others.

Bruce Howell

Howell is the president of the board of The Hillsider.