Sandy Benson is now giving back as a volunteer as she was helped by many when her husband was ill. She urges those who are in need to accept the care and compassion of those volunteers who want to help and to give back when it becomes possible.
Sandy Benson is now giving back as a volunteer as she was helped by many when her husband was ill. She urges those who are in need to accept the care and compassion of those volunteers who want to help and to give back when it becomes possible.
"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." ~ James Matthew Barrie

Volunteers have a huge impact in our community. Think of all the ways that volunteers make a difference in our lives. They deliver Meals on Wheels. They may tutor, teach, mentor, coach, and support young people with everything from math homework to dealing with personal issues. They care for the local youth and provide them with opportunities at football and volleyball tourneys.

Volunteers may play a simpler role of taking tickets or money at school events. They may help shelve books at the library or read to young children in the classroom. These kinds of volunteers provide services that are needed in our schools, but may be overlooked in cases of budget restraints.

Community volunteers who serve on the fire departments and ambulance crews help keep our citizens safe and lend a hand in times of crisis.

When disaster strikes or a family member becomes ill, volunteers may step in to organize benefits to raise funds to help with expenses or even provide simple joys in times of trial.

Simply said, volunteers make peoples' lives easier.

Reaching out

In our local communities, there are many examples of the positive impact volunteers are having on area residents. We all know someone who fits into these following examples.

A family of four faces conflict when their 3-year-old child is diagnosed with lymphoma. Times are tough. There are heating costs, rising gas prices, time taken off from work for doctor visits, and ongoing medical needs. The community organizes a benefit for the family. No, not out of pity but to let others know there is support. Volunteers show what is valuable.

A young teenager may stop for an hour to visit an 80-year-old widow that has been homebound for the winter.

An exhausted mother reads a book to her children every evening before bedtime, which fuels their minds for imagination and education.

A college student volunteers to coach the Junior Olympic volleyball team, putting her priorities on hold to help young people reach for their own dreams and develop their skills.

You as a volunteer

One may find it hard to believe, but just as we have individuals that are volunteers in our church, chamber or school - we are volunteers ourselves. Yes, we are volunteers to others in their lives, too!

It might be for something as small as helping a classmate finish a composition paper or mowing our elderly neighbor's lawn next door or bringing a hot dish to a neighbor whose family member has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment.

Giving back

Sandy Benson of Mabel was once the recipient of many good deeds and appreciates all of the gifts of support she was given by area volunteers.

She said, "Accept today and tomorrow give back."

Benson urges people who are struggling to accept the hot dishes, the gas cards or the extra help - and she knows from experience. Today, she is a volunteer herself, but a year and a half ago she was the person whom volunteers were helping. Her husband, Randy, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2009 and died in 2012 after his long battle with cancer.

"It's very humbling to be on the receiving end," said Benson. She explained that when volunteers brought food it was one last thing that she had to worry about. It gave her extra time to spend with Randy.

"People want to do something but they don't know what to do," she explained. "Don't call and ask what you can do...just do it!" Benson said she has been known to call a family in need and say she will be bringing lasagna and dessert at 5:30.

Volunteers are heroes

Volunteers are people that show us passion, tolerance and selflessness. They are people who put others' needs before their own. They are individuals who do something good and don't ask of anything in return. Aren't these qualities we all strive for?

There are going to be times when we need rescuing, when we are too weak to make our own path and need to follow others' leads, when we need to look up to someone and know that we are not alone.

Look beside you and find the person walking along, ready to lend a hand in support. Accept the gift from a volunteer and give back when you can.