Volunteer beyond routine events

Earth Day is just around the corner as the month of April is just days away. It’s the time of year when students and community members rally, unite and pledge to help clean up a neighborhood park or two. That’s great, but don’t wait until Earth Day to give back to your community. Volunteer year-round.

It’s easy to sign up for a volunteer project when a list is posted at your local church or school, but what about when there is no invitation? The St. Joseph Park Board is seeking volunteers to help with improvements to Cloverdale Park. Some of the work includes clean up, the planting of trees and installation of a gazebo. Additional plans are to add weaving walkways to the park. At the last meeting of the park board members earlier this month, board members and city staff said they plan to recruit volunteers to assist with improvements to the neighborhood park. Help the park board out, St. Joseph.

This is just one example of an upcoming chance to help out in town. However, volunteerism is a hallmark of the state as a whole. Let this be a reminder to get out and do a little more if you can.

Minnesotans take volunteering seriously. There are countless statistics available to support that argument. Here are just a few that confirm just how active one’s neighbor might really be – both here and beyond.

Minnesota ranks fourth in states with the highest percentage of volunteers and those doing favors for neighbors, according to data from the Volunteering in America website. Minnesota is also among the top five states for parent volunteers. No surprise.

According to data from the Corporation for National and Community Service via the Volunteering in America website, about 1.61 million Minnesota residents volunteered 189.8 million hours of service through or for a nonprofit or community organization in 2010. Also in 2010, about 11.4 percent of Minnesotans volunteered informally, totaling about 469,020 people hours. Use of the word “informally” notes people are choosing to give back in some way on their own and not through a specific organization.

Between the years of 2008 and 2010, on average there were about 15 million volunteers statewide. Data shows the whole concept of “Minnesota Nice” is not a figment of one’s imagination but is part of the fabric that makes a Minnesotan.

Volunteering is not a new concept in St. Joseph. Countless volunteers make major community events happen like the Fourth of July Parish Festival, the Joetown Rocks concert and the annual Christmas tree-lighting event. It’s all familiar territory, but we should try to make time to do more.

TaLeiza Calloway

TaLeiza Calloway is a professional journalist in Central Minnesota. Her byline has appeared in the St. Cloud Times and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. The Ohio native moved to Minnesota about four years ago. She joined the St. Joseph Newsleader staff as a reporter in November 2011.
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