I was riveted, along with the whole country, by the news coverage of the California fires as thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. I heard the mayor of Paradise being interviewed on the radio and was moved by her reply to whether the town would rebuild. In a community of about 26,000 people, the only buildings left standing were the court house, the post office and the library. Just about every home was wiped out, plus retail stores, restaurants, churches, and office buildings. But when the mayor was asked how the town could possibly recover when all the buildings were gone, her reply was “Buildings don’t make a community — people do.”
Las Vegas is a vibrant, generous community.
After 1 October the lines to donate blood were hours long. The donations of water and food prepared for law enforcement and other responders, and the number of therapists who offered counseling to victims, was heartwarming. It showed the country, and us, that we cared and wanted to do all we could, if only to be asked.
When we help those in need, and agencies providing services, it not only benefits the people and the organizations, it also enriches our own lives and that of the community. We build connections with people who share our passion for a mission, or a cure for a disease, or a social issue. When we volunteer, we also learn about other agencies providing much needed services.
It broadens our view of the community we live in and helps us better comprehend its needs. Volunteers ultimately become ambassadors for the causes they support. They have a vested interest in seeing that the cause or mission thrives.
My own non-profit, Baby’s Bounty, has just three employees. The other people who work with us every day are volunteers. They help us prepare 50 Baby Bundles each month, filled with cribs, car seats, clean clothes, diapers, and hygiene items for babies born into families living in poverty. Our volunteers sort and fold clothing donations, receive and manage large purchased items delivered on pallets, maintain the warehouse, clean our facility, and various other duties.
Volunteering Offers Opportunities to Develop New Skills
Volunteering offers opportunities to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. Thinking about a career in culinary? Volunteer in a soup kitchen to see what it takes to feed people on a large scale. Are you an animal lover?
Spend time at an animal shelter and it could help you decide if you REALLY want to be a veterinarian. Volunteer for a political campaign. You never know who you might meet or where it may lead.
Find something that matches your skills, your interests, your passion. Maybe you like to get your hands in the dirt. There’s a community garden called Vegas Roots that is run entirely by volunteers. Do you like to read? Our local libraries need volunteers and so do nursing homes. Their residents have a lot of time on their hands and they may be too frail to read anymore. Or maybe do a book drive for Spread the Word and collect books for underprivileged kids. Are there some baby clothes stashed in your garage? Baby’s Bounty can use them in our Baby Bundles! Still not sure where to volunteer? Sign up on a website like Volunteer Match to be alerted when opportunities in your areas of interest come up. It could very well change a life — even yours.
By Kim Amato
Founder & Executive Director / Baby’s Bounty
Community Program Coordinator-Southwest / Cribs for Kids