Brave Volunteers

I was happy and proud to read the other day that Minnesota has the second highest rate of volunteerism in the country, bested only by Utah.

North Dakota ranks 15th.  Husband decided that he has sufficient free time to volunteer at our local food pantry, and his first shift is next Thursday.  He will stock shelves. Our church donates the produce from our garden to the food pantry.  Suzy Kapelovitz, a nice Norwegian girl from Reeder, (a really small town in southwest ND), who married this Jewish guy who ran some sort of business in our town in ND, and who has spent her life here helping others, is the head of the food pantry.  She is in her 70’s. She confirmed his shift.  He is to stock shelves. I foresee volunteerism in our future,

Why do you think Minnesota has so many volunteers? What have you volunteered for?

31 thoughts on “Brave Volunteers”

  1. Only number two in volunteerism? Pair that with the fact MN is number one in voter participation (actually doubling the rate of many states) and number one in charitable giving. Those numbers, viewed as a group, make a strong case that Minnesotans are remarkably committed to working together for the greater good. That’s why I moved back here.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. RIse and Shine Baboons,

    I suspect that it has to do with record keeping and what people consider “volunteering.” Other people just consider such activities part of life. Many people (at least those of our generation) consider going to church and many of the associated activities to be just part of life. Many of those activities are counted as volunteering. Teaching Sunday School, staffing a tag sale, fall clean up of the property, and those all count as volunteering according to what I have read about this.

    I was raised in Iowa where I was socialized in a similar manner. Things like teaching Sunday School or leading a 4H club were not considered volunteering. And almost everyone I knew did such things.

    I would consider sewing masks a volunteer task — a gave it a break this week. I will sew some more this weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Why do you think Minnesota has so many volunteers?”

    Deeply ingrained Lutheran guilt??

    My biggie is Big Brothers Big Sisters as many of you know. Twenty years this fall. 🙂

    In the past I’ve volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, I’ve donated blood for many many years, I led a community band for a few years (way back in my teaching days–does that qualify as volunteering?), and probably some other things decades ago that I don’t recall because I didn’t stick with it.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The guilt – we OUGHT to be helping someone, somehow, as Chris noted. And maybe there’s a feeling of community that Minnesotans want, which is in part why they volunteer, but you’d think that would be true anywhere.

    Agree with Jacque – the church stuff just feels like everyone does something, so this is what I do. The Fall Book Sale, on the other hand, was a special project I volunteered to coordinate, that really felt like volunteering.

    Have volunteered for Habitat, being on boards, running the music at Tapestry… seems like there’s something missing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. BiR: for decades I’ve been trying to understand why Minnesotans have a stronger sense of community. I’ll never know for sure. My tentative conclusion is that the groups that supplied immigrants to Minnesota–mainly Sweden, Norway and Germany–had different experiences of history and a different sense of community than did the Irish and Scots Irish who settled much of the eastern seaboard. I wish I knew more now about immigrant history. I actually took a good course in it (taught by Allen Spear), but that wasn’t enough to answer all the questions I have now.

      It interests me that when I talk to close friends from other regions, people whose politics and backgrounds resemble my own, they usually have a very different set of attitudes toward government. In particular, they are more cynical about government than I am.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, for me, guilt would obviate (if that’s the right word) the whole idea of volunteering. For some particular task, perhaps guilt is a motivating factor, but for the vast majority of volunteering, I don’t believe it’s a major component. I don’t for a second believe that guilt was a prime motivator for the crew of baboons that descended on my garden after my fall, or on Steve’s garden after his tree branch debacle.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m surprised at Jacque’s and BiR’s take on this, not so much by Chris’. While I would not consider going to church as volunteering, teaching Sunday school I most certainly would, as well as the other things Jacque mentioned.

    To my mind, volunteering can be, and often is, a deeply satisfying activity. I think that most of us want to help when we see a need. Lots of volunteering is facilitated by local or national organizations, but lots of it springs from private initiatives, as well. The mask making falls in this category, as did the baboon gardening parties.

    Volunteering can be a one-time thing, or as in the case of Chris’ involvement with BBBG, a long-term commitment. Bravo, Chris! I applaud you for sticking with that one.

    Over the years I’ve volunteered for international, national, and local organizations, and I’ve stepped up personally when a neighbor was in need. In some cases it was a one-time thing, in others, it became a sustained effort that lasted years.

    In the neighborhood where Linda and I both live, there are all kinds of neighborhood volunteer activities. Everything from planting and maintaining gardens in empty lots, to repairing or cleaning each others homes, to sewing masks or shopping for shut-ins. This has been the case for as long as I have lived here. It feels good to be part of a community with that kind of spirit.

    Of all of the organizations that I have volunteered for over the years, perhaps the most rewarding was Special Olympics. Everyone I came in contact with, from athletes, to family or friends of the athletes, officials of some kind, or volunteers, were just so positive it was a pure delight. No guilt involved at all, just a genuine sense of lending a helping hand and knowing it was appreciated and doing some good.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I knew someone at the U of MN who was a staff member in a department with 31 people. She was a difficult person. A colleague once said, “In this department, 30 of us get along beautifully, but one of us has ongoing fights with all the others every day.”

    It surprised me to learn that the contentious staff member worked hard in the BBBS organization. That made no sense to me. She never talked about the kids being helped. But after each session of volunteering, she talked energetically about her disputes with other volunteers. I finally decided she volunteered because she enjoyed the fights she had with other volunteers.

    That and other experiences with volunteering have led me to conclude that the urge to volunteer can be strange and complicated. People volunteer for all kinds of reasons, often not the reasons they claim. Even people who do good things for odd reasons can be appreciated for the good they do.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My first time volunteering was when I was in high school. I volunteered at the new hospital in town as a “Pink Lady” (is that what we were called?). I delivered meals. Volunteering has continued through the years, I have no clue why I do it other than a sense of community and service. Currently my volunteering at the local historical society is almost like a part-time, almost full-time job. I love it, having great fun even when it is frustrating.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. A year after my divorce, I volunteered to do some online phone counseling at Face to Face. All volunteers went through a lengthy period of training before we were let loose on the phone. Not only did I learn some valuable strategies that I could use to manage my own emotions, but my four-hour Friday evening shifts brought me together with other volunteers who became good friends. If I happened to also help a teen through some emotional crisis, all the better, but the experience in and of itself was tremendously rewarding. Truly a win-win situation.

    I think Steve’s point, that people volunteer for many reasons, is accurate. I know that while I was working for KPMG and later the law firm, the expectation was that all employees in management positions do some sort of volunteers work, oftentimes serving on the boards of non-profits. These expectations were not entirely magnanimous in nature. Board members were often able to steer business to their respective firms.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. In thinking about Renee’s comment in the original post that Utah leads the nation in volunteerism, I began to wonder: Do you consider it volunteering when it’s expected of you? I’m guessing the reason Utah’s volunteerism is so high is because of the expectation, requirement even, that members of the Mormon church spend a certain amount of time knocking on doors and spreading the gospel for a certain period of their lives.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s akin to my reaction to Jacque’s initial comment that some people consider going to church as volunteering. As a child, some of us were more or less willing participants in Sunday church services. If we didn’t like to go, it certainly wasn’t voluntary, and if we liked to go, could it be considered volunteering when we did it for our own benefit? One of life’s persistent questions?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. i am a bad committee guy
    i learn to distance from controlling power folks
    give me a guy who wants help and let me find my way but nobody wants that. i’ve volunteered for 4 or 5 politicians but they all want me to pick someone’s honey do list one task at a time and phone bank doorbell ringing is not my cup of tea

    give me the mission of overcoming the gop bulldozing and give me access to the it geeks who could enable my analytic evaluation of how and when to pounce and make progress but….
    minnesota volunteers because we are all better when we are all better it’s obvious
    the trumpites out there are tired of being screwed by lying politicians and see 45 as a breath of fresh air like jessie ventura was celebrated here . i call them bowling shirt gop where the reduce tax bumper sticker is on a really rusty pick up truck or ford focus
    flags and guns and jesus. dems don’t play that way but they’ve never just stood up and pointed at the slime on the other side
    i could run for the finger pointing, example giving, factchecking , volunteer of the democratic headbangers.
    different than foods shelf. i need a little passion in my volunteer
    that or follow chris as a big brother
    grandpa tim to teach life lessons to little revolutionaries.
    let’s go

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Both of my parents were big volunteers. I think I got a lot of that from them. One of the very first things I remember doing on my own was collecting pop bottles in my neighborhood in a wagon. I carted them up to the local Kroger‘s for the deposit money and donated it to a political campaign of a friend of ours who was running for city Council. I think that was in fifth grade. In seventh grade I made a list of things that need to be collected for the Red Cross to make a little kits That were sent to areas being hit by natural disaster. Bars of soap, washcloths things like that. Right now I am making a lot of cards with medical themes that are being sent all over the country to support people working in hospitals and clinics and offices.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. In reflecting on this, I’m remembering that there was a time when my job pretty much required me to do some volunteer work. OK, so it wasn’t an actual requirement, but it was certainly “recommended” if you intended to make your way up the corporate ladder. That volunteering tended to manifest in board membership of some organization or another. Looking back, that was some of the least rewarding volunteer time I’ve spent, mostly because I was doing it for the wrong reasons. Each of the boards I was a member of did good work, but it was not the kind of work I wanted to do after a full day of heavy responsibility at work. One of the boards held lunch meetings which often resulted in guilt feelings. Not only was I not at the office, but on my expense account I could charge the office with the cost of my transportation, parking, and lunch. Just never did seem right to me.

    Having been retired now twelve years, I’m counting my blessings daily. It’s a true luxury to be able to spend my time, energy, and money doing exactly what I want to do it. And if someone disapproves? So be it, it really doesn’t matter to me. If and when I volunteer for something nowadays it’s because I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I would be volunteering at a Fix-it Clinic tomorrow, if not for the stay-at-home order. Also would have done a lot of tax preparation in the past few weeks, but that ground to a halt. I would be at the Humane Society booth at the state fair in August, but it doesn’t look as if that’s going to happen this year. I don’t have a lot of enthusiasm for making masks, so I’m kinda sitting out the volunteer work for now. I upped my monthly contribution to Second Harvest, though. Maybe that counts.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Linda, I know you find lots of small ways of adding your work and energy toward the common good. I’m so glad you’re part of the community in which I live.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. i always liked the college professor who the kids knew picked up every piece of garbage off the ground every day and put it in the waste nasket instead of leaving it in the view of everyone to step over,

        i will tomorrow write to the tea bag companies andmpotato chip companys telling them i am goingtomstart a revolution that boycotts companies that fill our landfills with packaging that will not be biodegratable in the next lifetime. its so wrong wrong wrong and unnesccessary
        tea bags really?
        potato chips
        aldi can figure it out
        whole foods can figure it out
        target walmart krogers costco
        if these 10 companies did it the world would be minus a terrible pile of chrome insulation
        find a better way to make the world work.
        it what i can do

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I had said I wonder if (and I know it’s no t entirely true) that many Minnesotans have not moved fro their childhood birthplace so if you grow up helping mom and dad volunteer than as said, it becomes part of your life.
      Mom and dad were active at church, 4H, the county fair, Farm Bureau, Dairy Association, and others.
      They say if you want something done, ask a busy person.

      Liked by 2 people

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