The Power of Nonprofit Volunteerism at Hidden Falls Camp
Nonprofit volunteerism can be such a power thing.
The other day, I woke up at 4:30 a.m., ready to spend the day as a volunteer to build a new playground for children at Hidden Falls Camp in Bedford, Ind. I would spend five hours this day driving to and from this remote location in the southern rolling hills of Indiana. This camp is run by The Salvation Army, Indiana Division.
In a typical summer at this camp, weekly camps are held for needy children from across the state of Indiana. Major Bob Webster, Divisional Commander of the Indiana Division, loves children and this camp. Under his leadership the camp has undergone many renovations in the last several years. He had a vision for a much-needed new playground.
The strategy for the new playground was both simple and complex. It would take several days for the playground to be built. Pieces of equipment were laid out throughout the parameter of the playground outline. Each day, a mix of experienced construction workers and at least 50 volunteers pieced together the playground. I learned quickly how difficult this construction was going to be to achieve success.
My tasks included spreading acres of mulch, stirring concrete, carrying equipment, attaching slides, digging holes and performing other activities as required. We worked in teams of five members, and we took only one major break this day, which was lunch. As I was performing a variety of tasks and watching everyone sweat, including me, then getting wet as we worked through the rain, I kept thinking about the joy and laughter the playground would give children of all ages for years to come.
As I was driving home that day, which was day three of the build, I had a very positive feeling of joy that I helped make a difference through my volunteerism. I am not alone in my joy of volunteering. According to the HelpGuide.org, there is a happiness effect with volunteering. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteer the happier they were.
The benefits of volunteering as noted from the article, "Simple Changes, Big Rewards: A Practical, Easy Guide for Healthy, Happy Living," are:
- Volunteering connects you to others.
- Volunteering is good for your mind and body.
- Volunteering can advance your career.
- Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life.
As a Good Deeds Day blog titled, “Why Do I Feel Like This When I Volunteer?” noted, common emotions that may run through your system when you choose to volunteer are feeling grateful for what you have, feeling connected with others, feeling fulfilled with a sense of purpose, feeling empathy for others and feeling happy and positive.
According to Points of Light, volunteering provides:
- Knowledge of things about the world you didn’t know.
- Skills related to things that you were not aware of or haven’t done before.
- Experience gained in new areas of focus.
- Joy and tears of happiness when you see how your work affected others.
- Perspective by seeing how others live and being thankful for what we have.
According to The Balance, people volunteer for many reasons, one of which is because it makes a difference. The benefits of volunteering are countless and there definitely are social, emotional, physical and professional perks.
Other unexpected benefits of volunteering are the following:
- Builds community
- Ends loneliness
- Increases socializing
- Builds bonds and creates friends
- Develops emotional stability
- Improves self-esteem
- Helps those most affected by mental illness
- Promotes longevity
- Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s
- Leads to graceful aging
- Burns that stubborn belly fat
- Improves schools and college experience
- Provides better job prospects
- Develops corporate communities
- Volunteering adds fun to your years
If you think of volunteering in the future, don’t overlook the benefits of volunteering. The power of nonprofit volunteerism is amazing. The next time you are asked to volunteer, say yes. I am certain you will receive far greater rewards than you give.
I cannot wait to visit the Hidden Falls Camp when the camp is in session to see children enjoy the play experience. I saw one person make a handprint in the concrete in the playground equipment that was covered up by mulch as a sign of their involvement. I did not leave a hand print, but I know my blood, sweat and tears will forever be a part of that day when I joined many other volunteers in making the Hidden Falls playground a reality.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, educator and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 10 years and has had the CFRE designation for the last 26 years. He has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for over 35 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.