In 2017, Marion Ohio participated in a county-wide reading event choosing the book, “This Is Where You Belong-The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live” by Melody Warnick. Many of the principles shared in the book are core values for the MarionMade! program, with volunteering in the community being one.
Last year MarionMade! tried an interesting experiment to find out how many people volunteered in our community and the number of hours of service they gave. This first-time effort had approximately 25 organizations reporting their hours. From just those 25 groups almost 1000 people gave over 134,000 hours. Based on the estimated nation value of volunteer hours of $25.43 per hour, these volunteers gave over $3,000,000 of their time and talents to the Marion community.
But not all organizations and groups reported their hours. These groups could include schools, churches, nonprofits, businesses or any group or individual that donated their time and talent to help any effort in the county. MarionMade! would like to do better this year. If any organization, business, school, etc. in Marion County had volunteers MarionMade! would like those numbers. They can be sent by email at email@example.com, phone at 740.386.4215 or by Facebook. Send the total number of volunteers, and the total number of hours given by the group for the 2019 calendar year. For example in 2018, OhioHealth had 214 volunteers that gave 24,149 hours.
Why is volunteering important to Marion? Here are examples from the Marion County Historical Society and the Marion Palace Theatre. Brandi Wilson, director of the Marion County Historical Society shared, “Volunteers play a vital role in the operations of the historical society. I am not sure how we would keep our doors open without their hard work and dedication. Our volunteers help maintain the building and grounds, set exhibits, operate the gift shop, lead tours, work in the archive department, help with historic research and participate in reenactments. I hope that our volunteers always feel welcome, I appreciate each and every one of them and the time they gift us is priceless.”
The Marion Palace Theatre talked about one of their volunteers- Carol McWilliams, who has volunteered since 2013. “Carol can usually be found helping Palace patrons purchase movie tickets and concessions with a big friendly smile on her face. Carol is a wonderful & dependable asset to our volunteer team.” Without efforts of Carol and the whole team of volunteers, the Palace would find it impossible to put on the large number of shows and programs each year. The hours of effort given to put on just the Christmas at the Palace’s three days of performances is huge and would be impossible without volunteers.
Volunteering has an impact on Marion long after the time is given. Whether it’s the money the organizations save by the hours’ volunteers dedicate, the partnerships that bring groups together, or the much-needed services volunteers provide, volunteering in our community has a measurable impact.
Beyond improving the community, it is proven to help those individuals that give their time. People learn more about the place where they live. It can help with job skills and career goals. It also can improve individuals’ health, mentally and physically. Researchers at the London School of Economics looked at the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults. They found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% for those who volunteer monthly, 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks and 16% for weekly volunteers.
MarionMade! will gather volunteer hours through the end of February 2020 for the 2019 calendar year. In April, National Volunteer Month, it will share the totals and feature different groups that share their information on MarionMade!’s social media.
Volunteering is just another way to show the pride we have in our community. It is possible to do amazing things when people take the time to give back to the community and they will thrive as well.