I serve as the volunteer coordinator for the Harrisonville Police Department’s Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program, which soon will celebrate its fourth anniversary.
Harrisonville VIPS is a partnership between citizens and the police department.
Volunteers apply, pass a background check, and are fingerprinted. Then, they are then trained in positions related to their interests.
As I reviewed our activities for 2017, I was reminded of the value of volunteering.
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Certainly, there is monetary value to an organization in utilizing volunteers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the estimated value of volunteer time for Missouri at $21.57 per hour.
Using this figure, the hours our local VIPS volunteers contribute annually to Harrisonville is between $8,000 and $10,000.
But the value of volunteering goes beyond the financial considerations.
Many say volunteers live longer. There can be no argument that being active physically and staying mentally acute have value.
Reducing personal stress by focusing on someone else is a plus.
My first volunteer position was at age 13 years old, when I worked as a candy striper at a hospital in my hometown.
I loved wearing that red-and-white-striped jumper, and I didn’t care that the name candy striper referred to a candy cane.
I served meals to patients and fed those who needed assistance. As a candy striper volunteer, I realized that nursing would become both my occupation and my life’s passion.
Today’s young people can test out a career by volunteering.
It’s important to be involved in the community and the opportunities are endless.
How about letting your children volunteer beside you? What better legacy than to raise up another generation of volunteers? We teach hope, kindness, worth, and gentleness when we help others.
When I interview applicants, one of the questions I ask is why they want to volunteer. A frequent response is the desire to give back.
Most of us want to be part of something that makes a difference, and community service is a path to that.
One of my favorite quotes is by Mahatma Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
You can find Harrisonville VIPS on Facebook. Our volunteers range in age from 18 to 90 years of age — and there’s probably a place for you.
Judy Bowman is the volunteer coordinator for the Harrisonville Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program.