The Blogunteer is a new blog to profile volunteers, volunteer organizations, and volunteer events. Our goal is to inspire volunteering and to help promote volunteer organizations you may not have heard of yet.
Our first profile is Amy Nylander, a volunteer with many organizations.
Amy is currently involved with the Relay for Life of Eden Prairie as the co-teams coordinator and team captain co-organizer of a vendor boutique fundraiser; The PROP Shop of Eden Prairie as the Director of Community Relations; and with the State Services for the Blind as a textbook recorder for the visually impaired. In the past, she has been involved with Eden Prairie Destination Imagination, the ABC House selection committee, the PROP Holiday and School Supplies programs and almost every Parent Teacher Organization in Eden Prairie.
Attracted to causes that build community, Amy states, “When I’m at the Relay or the PROP Shop and see volunteers of all ages, genders, and walks of life, I feel positive about the future.”
But, building community isn’t the only thing that attracts Amy to volunteering. “Volunteering is the best way to get things to change for the better. It isn’t about legislation. It isn’t about cash (although that helps – a lot). It’s about grass roots movements and people with their boots on the ground getting the job done. It’s also the best way to meet the best people. And it’s the best way to avoid doing laundry.”
Amy’s most memorable volunteer experiences focus on lasting change. “It’s pretty neat to start a program and see it still in place years later. I can’t possibly pick just one moment. In the running would be harassing my book club (12 of the most patient woman in the world) into bringing kids socks and underwear to book club one month to be donated to clients at the PROP Shop. From there I asked a couple of other friends with book clubs and now the PROP Shop has 36 local book clubs in the Book Club Action Network. These folks have never met, but we’re all working together toward a common goal helping other people we’ve never met. There is something pretty special about anonymous acts of kindness.”
What would Amy recommend for first time volunteers? “Anywhere you feel comfortable or that speaks to you. I like to start off in small way until I learn more about the organization. Being a team captain for a Relay team is a great start, but if that’s too scary just coming to a Relay and walking a few laps will familiarize you with the way Relay works.”
Other ideas from Amy include signing up for a shift at the PROP Shop or other local thrift store, offering to help local teachers with behind the scenes tasks, volunteering with animal organizations, and helping at your library. According to Amy, a great idea is to talk to your friends about where they volunteer. “There’s a reason they keep returning to a place to help out.”
So, what other tips does Amy have to offer? “Get your kids volunteering while they still do what you say. If you wait until they’re in high school, it’s a lot harder to work volunteering into their busy lives and a lot harder to convince them it’s a good idea. Start early and it will become a way of life for them.”
To learn more about the organizations that Amy volunteers with, visit their websites here:
Eden Prairie Relay for Life: www.eprelay.org
PROP Shop: www.propshopep.org
MN State Services for the Blind: www.mnssb.org