Volunteering in Steele County

Volunteering in Steele County

If you’ve paid attention at all to communications coming out of the United Way office in the last few years you know that a motto of our global organization is “Give. Advocate. Volunteer.”  Locally we’ve done a very good job at providing opportunities for Steele County citizens to give, both to UWSC and to our partner agencies.  Through our public relations we inform you of opportunities to advocate for those in need throughout our community.  But, we haven’t done as good a job of providing you avenues for volunteering – until now.

Earlier this spring we launched Volunteer Connect powered by United Way of Steele County.  This is a tool that helps match volunteers with local opportunities.   Let’s say you are recently retired and have some regular time on your hands – you can log onto the site and find steady recurring opportunities at the Steele County Food Shelf, Crisis Resource Center, or Parks and Recreation and many others.  Or if you are still in your career but also want to make the occasional gift of time and experience you could do a shift at Crazy Days to support Owatonna Business Partnership, Tutor school kids at SACSO, or participate in the McKinley Elementary Ice Cream Social with Grandparents for Education.  These are just a few of the opportunities available.  Just go to our website (www.unitedwaysteelecounty.org) and click on the Volunteer Connect button.

We are able to offer this wonderful tool to our community because of a generous grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation.  This can be used by any community organization – not just UWSC funded agencies – and by all community members.  You can identify your interests and let the app notify you when interesting opportunities come up or you can browse the site when you feel like it.  So far 20 organizations have posted nearly 150 volunteer needs. 

If you are looking for some personal benefits to start volunteering just google “benefits of volunteering”.  Reputable sites such as Forbes magazine and Corporation for National and Community Service, among others, list the following benefits of volunteering.

Volunteers:

  • Are happier, have more empathy, feel more personal connections.

When you volunteer you aren’t thinking about your to-do list or any life stressors, you are thinking about others. 

  • Are healthier both physically and mentally; resist Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Many volunteer opportunities have a physical component so you can get your steps in while you help those in need.  Staying active helps mental health, too.

  • Develop their skills and talents to better personal use.

You may learn a new skill through volunteering or have the opportunity to hone leadership or other professional skills.

  • Are less lonely, have more socialization, more friends

Spending time with like-minded individuals + working toward a common goal = new friends!

  • Feel better about themselves.

It just feels great to help someone else.

  • LIVE LONGER and have more fun along the way. 

Steele County is our community and we are responsible for taking care of it and each other.  United Way has made is easier than ever for you to help your neighbors, and yourself.  Please check out the site and give us your feedback.  If you need any help navigating the site or guidance on choosing an opportunity – give us call, we’re always glad to help. 

Kim Schaufenbuel is the Executive Director of United Way of Steele County.  She can be reached at 507-455-1180 or via email at kschaufenbuel@unitedwaysteelecounty.org.