Volunteers find they receive more than they give
By Doreen L'Allier
Lead Director of Engagement
We who live in Dakota County live in dynamic communities with a diverse population. To keep our communities vibrant during this tough economy, we all need to contribute to the common good by helping our neighbors, volunteering and giving back.
360 Communities knows that meeting the basic needs of families isn't enough. We have found that to truly help families facing challenges we must address underlying causes, approaching them with prevention as our goal.
Part of what makes 360 Communities unique is its strong partnerships with faith communities, police departments, schools, businesses and professional groups. And we depend greatly on the many volunteers who support our organization's varied services.
Volunteers are the heart of what we do. These selfless men and women have found that there are many ways to help others that can be coordinated with personal obligations.
Ray Martin, a volunteer that has sparked positive action since 2004 comments that, “Each day volunteering is like snowflakes – no two are the same. And you find a way to make life a little better for each person you encounter.”
And with the new economic realities that our community and country face, Martin says, "In the new normal, there are no guarantees. Are we any different than the people who walk through our doors to use our services? In many ways, not a lick."
Every volunteer at 360 Communities has a story to tell about why he or she has chosen to make a positive difference in the community.
“I was alone at one time and I was not sure how to make ends meet but then I started to volunteer and meet people who are going through all kinds of experiences," said Marianne Salter, a 360 Communities volunteer, " I get so much more and there are so many amazing and kind people. What I receive back is far more than any pay that I earned."
In this tough economy, it is vital to the community that we continue to support one another.
“We can walk shoulder to shoulder and be there for each other. We are not talking about those people. We are talking about how we support one another and be there for one another to hold each other up and strengthen our community,” said Mary Ajax, President & CEO of 360 Communities.
The volunteering experience can vary for each situation.
“We engage with people who come in and who might need food. We also find out about what else is going on in their lives for example to get an understanding of how one family’s kids are doing from losing their home and how they are spending their last $200 to stay in a hotel and they had nothing,” Martin said. “If I can in some small way, make someone’s life better and inspire hope after they had been here-- that’s what it is all about.”
360 Communities employs a unique approach to ensure school success, confront domestic violence and address the root causes of poverty. With 40 years of strong partnerships and a network of services, 360 Communities gives hope to people and engages the community to make positive change.
360 Communities needs your help. Consider getting involved in a small or big way to give thanks; help your neighbors and strengthen your community. You can get involved via hands on, in person help or by helping with a donation at 360Communities.org.
If you are interested in volunteering, contact Doreen L'Allier, Lead Director of Engagement at dlallier@360Communities.org or at 952.985.4007