In the US, it appears that every day is acknowledged for something. According to the National Day Calendar, March 30th , for example, is recognized for National Doctors Day, Pencil Day, Take a Walk in the Park Day, I Am In Control Day, Turkey Neck Soup Day, and Virtual Vacation Day.
It’s hilarious to see what has risen to the top. However, one hallmark of American life that ALL should recognize is National Volunteer Week/Month. On April 20, 1974, President Richard Nixon signed Proclamation 4288, which officially designated the first annual National Volunteer Week.
The 2020 theme, “Shining a Light On the People and Causes That Inspire Us to Serve”, is beyond worthy during this time. My favorite quote by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”, is undeniable.
Two volunteer groups that have been invaluable in multiplying the Family and Consumer Science education through outreach are Douglas County Family and Community Education (FCE) and Extension Master Food Volunteers (EMFV).
The FCE units, known as the Douglas County Farm Bureau, were organized in 1924 to help rural women achieve the standards of their city counterparts. Unit leaders came together to have “lessons” taught by K-State Extension. In turn, they would share the information with their members. They were responsible for convincing the county commissioners to hire the first Home Demonstration Agent. Even though the organization has changed its name three times, the mission has remained the same, which is to enrich families through educational programs, leadership development, and community service.
Continuing to be a relevant, timely, and reliable, some of the 2020 educational programs offered to the public feature Q/A’s about CBD Products, Importance of Sleep and Sleep Disorders, Aging at Home, and Use/Abuse of Antibiotics. Leadership and community service are evident throughout the year as they assist and recognize Veterans, share education on Stay Strong Stay Healthy at community wellness fairs, provide snacks for the American Red Cross, just to name a few.
Another volunteer spotlight shining in Douglas County since 2005 is the EMFV’s. The EMFV program allows people with interests in food, food safety, cooking, and nutrition to receive a foundation of knowledge through a shared love of food. The volunteers complete 40 hours of training and give back to the community by contributing a minimum of 40 hours of service.
The volunteers offer vital help to youth and adults in need through nutrition/cooking classes, including Family Promise, Boys & Girls Club, Dining with Diabetes participants, Mediterranean Cuisine class, Aging Out of the Girl’s Shelter, and SkillBuilders for those adapting to life changes. Highlighted expanded programming are assisting individuals and families apply for SNAP benefits and hosting a “Bring & Buy” Kitchen Garage Sale designed to downsize kitchen wares through donations and then offering these items to anyone at a minimal cost.
As Elizabeth Andrew states, “volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” So true.