Letter from the President: The Value of Volunteering

Many of us have experienced the value of volunteering in our lives. Whether it's personal commitments, professional mentorship, or strategic counseling, volunteerism strengthens our communities and benefits our profession. But, did you also know that it can help keep you healthy?

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and other volunteer programs, volunteering increases participants' sense of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment while also lowering mortality rates, increasing functional ability and lowering rates of depression later in life. (Read "The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research" for more information.) I have talked with many leaders throughout Iowa who are planning exciting new initiatives, and they need your help. Use the following tips to select your next volunteer opportunity. 

Tips on becoming a volunteer (adapted from materials compiled by the nonprofit coalition Independent Sector)

1. Research the causes or issues that are important to you. Look for a group that deals with issues about which you feel strongly. 

2. There are many ways to find organizations that are looking for volunteers. Ask your friends or colleagues about their own volunteer activities. Try online volunteer referral services, including www.volunteer.gov. 

3. Would you like to learn something new? Consider whether the organization offers training or professional development opportunities for volunteers. Volunteering can provide you with the chance to learn about something you're interested in and develop skills in a new area. 

4. Think about looking for a volunteer opportunity that would be suitable for parents and children to do together, or for a group of friends to take on as a team. Volunteering with others can help keep you excited about volunteering. 

5. Don't give up! If you find that your volunteering experience is not all that you expected, talk to your volunteer supervisor or coordinator about it. Think of what could make it better and check with them to see if your ideas are possibilities. 

The PRSA Central Iowa Chapter works to strengthen our profession and the communities we serve through a variety of programming, special events and university outreach statewide. If you are interested in volunteering with our Chapter, please contact me at kelly.bruhn@drake.edu. 



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