Licking County’s volunteers make a difference

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Nothing is more valuable than our time. We give our time to our loved ones, to our household tasks, to our pets, to our hobbies.

It seems that time is too often in short supply and has past too quickly. Sometimes we waste time. We give our time to our televisions, to our couches, to our computers, and to our long naps. Time is precious. Each moment in time has potential: potential for a memorable exchange, a funny conversation, a feeling of love and warmth, an opportunity to do good.

In Ohio, 26 percent of people spend an average 27.8 hours volunteering per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As National Volunteer Week kicks off, we should honor these volunteers by hearing their stories, recognizing their service, and join them in their efforts as they spend their treasured time giving back.

Debbie Hamrick

Debbie Hamrick is a volunteer patient companion with Hospice of Central Ohio. She gives 1 to 4 hours of her time caring for patients throughout the week, offering patients crucial end of life, one-on-one care. Debbie shared an anecdote with her volunteer coordinator at Hospice of Central Ohio about why she donates her time and why she finds volunteering valuable.

“My paycheck as a Hospice of Central Ohio patient companion is the opportunity to attend the end of life seminar my patients offer me free of charge each time I visit. I wonder how they do it, waking up in pain, perhaps never totally escaping it; not remembering that their loved one visits every evening or what they ate for breakfast; having to be assisted to do what were once the simplest of tasks. What I continually remind myself is that their current state is not their whole person; they have a lifetime of experiences that got them to the place that they now find themselves. Having the privilege of listening to their stories from over the years is my paycheck, a paycheck no amount of money can ever replace.”

Martha Tracey

Martha Tracey, a volunteer with Mental Health America of Licking County, recalls why she gives her time volunteering and why she thinks that everyone should try it out.

“I am a retired psychiatric nurse and so I have always been in a helping profession. I currently volunteer at the Opportunity Store at the Look-Up Center and at Mental Health America. I first started volunteering simply because a friend asked me to, and I didn’t want to let her down. It turned out that I really enjoyed it and that surprised me.

I enjoyed it because I got to spend time with my friends who also volunteered, and I met a lot of nice people who were also giving their time to help others. Volunteering has given me a sense of community that was lacking in my life since I retired. I also feel that I am making a contribution to our community just by showing up and doing what I can.

Before I started volunteering I had the perception that it would be a burden; that other people would want too much of my time and that I would feel put upon. That has not been the case. Just the opposite really; I now have new friends, new tasks to learn, a feeling of belonging to a team, and a sense of purpose. If you have ever thought about volunteering my advice would be to ask your friends if they know of any opportunities. Or figure out what your special talent is and go for it. Who knows, a whole new world may open up for you.”

Licking County Parks

The Licking County Parks district has around 70 dedicated volunteers and a small staff overseeing over 1,500 acres and 40 miles of bike trails. The volunteer program at the Licking Park District is inherent to their success. In the last year, Licking Park District volunteers gave 1,008 hours of their time volunteering. Volunteers hauled 4,200 gallons of water to nourish newly planted trees at Infirmary Mound Park, cleared 21,780 square-feed of invasive bush honeysuckle in just 3 hours, lifted 5,700 pounds of trash out of the Licking River, and spent 0 time saying “I can’t, I won’t, or this is too hard.” In the words of their volunteer coordinator, “Our volunteers are the thoughtful and committed citizens impacting the community that we all live in.”

Licking County Humane Society

In 2017, 422 people volunteered at the Licking County Humane Society, and as a group, gave 6,391 hours of their time to serve homeless, abused, and neglected pets in Licking County. Volunteers exercised dogs, washed dishes and laundry, scrubbed countless kennels, provided humane education to elementary school classrooms, assisted with LCHS low-cost vaccine and spay/neuter clinics, scooped dog poop, staffed adoption events and fundraisers, shared the love of pets with seniors at Senior Living communities, picked up donations, delivered donations, transported rescued animals, and much more. In the words of their volunteer coordinator, “The Licking County Humane Society could not be successful in our mission without the selfless dedication of our volunteers. We are truly fortunate to have such a loving, positive, and hardworking volunteer community.”

According to the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, there are approximately 54 non-profit organizations, all of which depend on volunteers to serve our community. The population of Licking County is 170,570 people. If we all gave a moment of our time, we could improve the lives of our seniors, of our less fortunate, of our land, and of our pets. “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew

This article was cooperatively written by the Licking County Volunteer Management Group. This group of dedicated volunteer managers and coordinators gathers once a month to discuss the volunteer needs, issues, and happenings in Licking County.

Found in The Newark Advocate April 18, 2018

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