Every April, nonprofits across the country shine a spotlight on volunteers by celebrating thousands of donated hours of hard work and dedication that supports missions from the arts to zoos and everything in between. This year will be no different!
Hands On Nashville (HON) reports that in 2020, even with COVID-19, there were more than 52,000 volunteers signed up to serve. When Nashville was struck by the tornado on March 3, 2020, volunteers flocked to the scene to give everything they could to help neighbors in need. When the bombing occurred Christmas morning last year, volunteers were lined up to help the city clean up downtown and rebuild Second Avenue. Even today, with COVID-19 vaccinations in full swing, fearless volunteers are working the front lines, processing paperwork, and directing traffic at vaccination sites. All of this service adds up, generating $2.3 million in economic value for local charities in 2020.
Volunteering does more than just help a nonprofit or the community, it also promotes mental and physical well-being. Mayo Clinic studies show that volunteering decreases depression by encouraging people to interact with others with common goals, and allowing them to feel valued for their skills and life experiences. It also allows volunteers to learn new skills that will benefit them in their day-to-day lives. Other benefits experienced by volunteers include increased energy from staying mentally and physically active, improved mood, and reduced stress levels.
Nonprofits have been changing the way they engage volunteers, and there are now many virtual or “COVID-safe” volunteer opportunities, so don’t be afraid to ask your favorite charity or look at HON’s website for guidance.
If it’s been a while or if you’ve never volunteered, now is the time to get started. You can learn or teach a new skill; volunteer from home and assist with bookkeeping or blog writing and social media posts; or even provide a meal for foster kids in group homes. Your family can draw or write thank you notes to health care workers or happy notes to those in retirement homes. The needs and opportunities are really endless.
Volunteering offers a sense of accomplishment, exposes people to a different way of living in their own communities, and develops skills that could translate to school and work life. Beyond your kids needing service hours for school or other extracurricular groups, volunteering can teach new skills and introduce them to new people and organizations. Just remember, volunteering is for everyone, and the more volunteers come together to support our communities, the stronger our communities become.
For volunteer opportunities with Youth Villages or other organizations in the Middle Tennessee area, visit Hands on Nashville.
Brittany Farrar is the regional director of Middle Tennessee programs and Tennessee Specialized Crisis Services for Youth Villages. Crisis services are still available 24/7 if your child needs support. Youth Villages is available and prepared to assist your family during this time. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741