Filling shortage as simple as putting the ‘U’ in volunteer

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GREEN COVER SPRINGS – April is National Volunteer Month, a time to recognize those individuals who give their time, effort, and resources to help community organizations achieve their mission. Many organizations doing outstanding work in our communities are facing a shortage of volunteers. As a 4-H Youth Development professional who relies on volunteers, I’d like you to consider volunteering with an organization.

Now, you may have a couple questions when it comes to volunteering such as: “my time is valuable to me, why should I volunteer?” or “I want to volunteer, where do I start?” All are valid questions and I hope to give you some guidance and get you volunteering today.

It’s important to remember there are benefits for everyone, including YOU! As a volunteer you’ll gain confidence, self-esteem, new skills, knowledge and experience. Adding to that, you’ll get to meet new people, make new friends, be valued as a part of the team, and most importantly get to know our community and the challenges we face together. You’ll have the opportunity to make a difference and help others who may be less fortunate, or who find themselves without a voice in local issues.

The first decision you’ll need to make is how much time can you spend volunteering? The great news about volunteering is that you can be as involved as you’d like to be. In our communities, there is a wide-ranging need for volunteers, from an hour a month, to a couple hours a week.

The second decision you’ll need to make is what kind of an organization you’d like to volunteer with, think about a cause that you feel passionately about. This may be helping a child learn, aiding the elderly, helping at a blood drive, or even helping at the library. A great tool that you may not know about is the United Way of Northeast Florida 2-1-1 helpline which hosts a volunteer portal on their website with over 200 volunteer needs: uwnefl.galaxydigital.com.

Now I may be a little biased, but I hope you’ll consider volunteering for the Clay County 4-H Youth Development Program. We work with young people across the county to help them gain confidence, build leadership skills, and help them find their passion in life. We have opportunities for you to volunteer short term, such as judging speeches and giving valuable feedback, or long term, such as serving as a mentor for youth.

The best part is, you get to share what you’re interested in with youth. Have a knack for computer coding? We’d love to have you as a volunteer, and I know that there are youth who would be excited to learn from you. Whatever you’re passionate about, we have youth who would love to learn.

If you have an interest in helping youth reach their fullest potential, please consider being a volunteer with 4-H. You don’t need to be the expert, just willing to learn alongside a child. For more information about volunteering, STEM or 4-H you can contact Matthew Olson at (904) 284-6355 or m.olson@ufl.edu.

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