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THE EXTENSION CORNER — Volunteerism: The heart of our community

Hurricane Florence and other natural disasters sometimes bring out the best in people.

We have a yearning to help those in need and come together for the betterment of our community.

Lori Ivey

Wouldn’t it be nice if this was the situation every single day?

I am confident it can be.

My children have participated in community service in a variety of ways such as church youth groups, school clubs, 4-H clubs and our church confirmation group, just to name a few.

I am thankful for each opportunity for them to participate in service hours both through the church and in the community.

Whether it was helping serve a meal at the Community Table or playing games with residents at the Community Inn, they were able to see and have empathy for folks in our community that might have been different from them.

People volunteer for many different reasons. Some volunteer to give back to a community or to simply help the people they live around.

For others it might be a good way to learn new skills.

For my children, it was more about the requirement, but they gained so much more than just completing hours of community service.

Many organizations depend on volunteers. In our community I can think of many that rely on volunteers such as Habitat for Humanity, Homes of Hope and United Way of Stanly County, just to name a few.

N.C. Cooperative Extension is no different.  In 2017, 348 volunteers provided 34,367 hours of their time valued at $105,419 reaching youth and adults through volunteer work with Cooperative Extension.

In Extension there are many ways to give back.

You might have an interest in gardening and plants, choosing to become a Master Gardener Volunteer.

If you have an interest in foods and cooking, the Master Food Volunteer Program offers opportunities for you to learn new skills related to foods all while helping Extension reach additional audiences through volunteer work.

Our Extension and Community Association members contribute hundreds of hours each year through a variety of community organizations, including work they do with Extension programs.

Working with youth might interest you and allow you to either become an episodic volunteer, helping with a one-day event, or a 4-H Volunteer Club Leader that works with youth throughout the year.

We have many opportunities for you to volunteer with Cooperative Extension.

In the fall our office hosts Ag Awareness Days, a third-grade field trip where students rotate through 12 hands-on stations related to agriculture and the environment.
Speedway to Healthy is another event hosted by N.C. Cooperative Extension that requires 50-plus volunteers. Through this 1,200-square-foot exhibit, youth learn about how the foods they eat affect their bodies.

There are many reasons for volunteering and giving back to our community.

Through your volunteer hours you not only make a difference, you might feel better, too.

Studies have shown that volunteering makes you feel physically healthier.

I am sure there will be many opportunities to volunteer in the weeks and months to come following Hurricane Florence.

Make sure volunteering is on your to do list.

For additional information about volunteering with N.C. Cooperative Extension, please contact us at 704-983-3987 or via email at Lori_Ivey@ ncsu.edu.

Lori Ivey is director of the Stanly County office of North Carolina Cooperative Extension.