There are a lot of reasons people wait before getting more involved in their community. Some wait until their kids are out of school. Some choose to get more involved after they are retired. Others feel they are too busy and want to wait until life slows down. All valid reasons. Unfortunately, there are a lot of local non-profits in the financial fight of their lives, the casualty of a historic economic downturn. They really hope a lot of us will consider volunteering RIGHT NOW.
There have been some great stories and letters to the editor in The Pioneer over the last couple months about the enormous challenges many of our non-profits are facing. These non-profits are providing critical services in our community, services many people cannot live without. Services no one else in the community is willing to provide. Their pleas are real and there is a good chance that some may not make it through these tough times without some immediate help.
The struggling economy has had an impact on every one of us. Bemidji is a very giving community but there is definitely less money to go around. It has hit our local non-profits twice as hard. Many have had significant losses in State, Federal and grant funding. The reduction in donations and funding is forcing many to cut programs, services and reduce staff just to keep the doors open. With many people in our area out of work, it also increased the demand for non-profit services. Many are trying to provide help to twice as many people with half the resources. The need for community volunteerism has never been greater than it is today.
The largest expense for most non-profits is employees. In tough times, it’s what always gets cut. Volunteers can play a big role and fill that gap. They can help provide service without increasing expenses. Imagine if every Bemidji citizen donated 1 hour a week to a local non-profit. That would be the equivalent of giving EACH of those 100 non-profits 3 full time employees. Think of the impact on our non-profit community!
If you have ever thought about volunteering, make this the year to do it. You will make the greatest impact in these tough times. You can find out a few ways to get involved by contacting our local United Way or Community Resource Connections. Some of the most rewarding places I have volunteered, I knew nothing about prior to getting involved. We have over 100 non-profits in our community to choose from.
It will be a tough holiday season for many families in our area. Less presents around the tree and less food on the table. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is your time. Time is something we all have. Some people have more than others but we all have some to give.
In the time it took you to read this, you could have served a family at the Soup Kitchen or handed out a few presents at the Holiday Gifts for kids. Sometimes volunteering is as simple as a warm smile or a hug to someone who needs it most. Your time is valuable. Your time is invaluable to our local non-profits who need you now more than ever.
One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” – John F. Kennedy