Here in Story County, we’re focused on making our community a better place. That’s part of the mission for United Way of Story County, but it’s part of the DNA of this community, too. Story County is a community that cares.
That’s why United Way celebrates the contributions of volunteers, today and every day. Whether you’re spending an hour a week reading to young children to boost their pre-reading skills, contributing to the latest food drive, or taking part in volunteer activities through your place of work – you're making our community a better place to live.
The Summer Enrichment Programs are a great example. Every summer, Story County Reads (a UWSC collaborative) partners put together summer programs reaching students in need with engaging opportunities during the summer months. These programs would not run without volunteers. Many great community partners, Burke, Danfoss, First National Bank, Greater Iowa Credit Union, and Kiwanis, stepped up and are volunteering to serve lunch to the program participants over the 6-week period. This saves the programs in Ames and Nevada an incredible cost and allows teachers and program staff to interact with the students.
It’s that kind of community involvement that’s helping to improve education, financial stability and health in our community. Last year, The Salvation Army of Ames and Story County utilized nearly 300 volunteers to provide their services to those in need and to keep costs low. Volunteers help prepackage food bags for visitors, deliver food packages to neighbors in need, assist in accepting and collecting donations from partners and ensuring items are donatable. Without these volunteer hours, the pantry alone wouldn’t be able to reach this capacity.
Research tells us that volunteerism isn’t just good for our community, it’s good for us, too. Volunteering as a family provides opportunities to connect and talk in new ways as parents and kids learn to see each other outside of their typical roles.
Volunteering helps children learn about responsibility to others and having a stake in their community. Working as a family team reinforces the importance of doing your part to achieve a greater goal. And volunteering stimulates empathy, as kids come to see and experience the needs of others firsthand.
When we volunteer, we receive the benefit as much, as we benefit others. It’s a fact that people who volunteer experience a boost in their mental health. We feel good – mentally and physically – and odds are we’ll enjoy our fellow volunteers, who have chosen to serve for the same reasons.
And it’s good for business, too. According to America’s Charities, 88% of employers believe effective employee engagement programs help attract and retain employees. And 71% of employees say it’s imperative or very important to work where culture is supportive of giving and volunteering.
Want to get involved in making Story County a better place? Contact United Way at 515-268-5142 to start today. We hear from many partners and community groups where volunteers are in need. Plus, our annual Day of Caring is just around the corner. On September 16, hundreds of volunteer opportunities will be happening simultaneously all throughout the county, creating a stronger community for everyone. Join us, reach out today!