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In the Know: Volunteering - values in action

Brownie Girls Scouts recently completed a United Way “speed volunteering” project by putting together adult care kits. (Contributed)

Every day I see people putting their values into action through volunteering and engaging in our community to make a positive difference in the lives of others! Let's take a look at how to connect your values with some great ways to get going and help our community continue growing.

Each of us as individuals has a set of values that we believe are important to live by and live out. Finding the right match between your values and the volunteer opportunity you select can not only better the community but it can also benefit you. Volunteering and helping others can reduce stress, improve your physical and mental health, and provide you with a sense of purpose. Volunteering can also connect you with people in the community to form new friendships as well as enhance or advance your career.

Values can also define corporate culture and businesses are creatively putting these values into action all over. Not only are local employers reaching out to inquire about opportunities to help others but there is a new version of PTO gaining popularity in the business world called VTO or Volunteer Time Off. Workplace volunteering is being recognized as central to a healthy workplace culture. When employers encourage volunteering, they see improvements in employee engagement and benefits to their companies.

Values, whether personal or professional, are what motivate our behavior and can be used as a guide to decision making, goal setting and giving of our time and talents to serve others. Putting these values into action can be done through volunteering. There are many ways to accomplish this and engage in causes that you care about while making a difference in the broader community in which we live and work.

United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties hosts a volunteer website with opportunities for individuals and businesses alike. In addition to the website we have launched a new Speed Volunteering initiative that can be done by any individual or group in any setting at your convenience.

Volunteer website

Check out this mobile‐friendly experience where community organizations can list and promote volunteer opportunities in one location. Community members can browse existing needs and then register for service opportunities that align with their passions. Volunteers can then track their efforts within the community throughout a given time period. Get Connected learns volunteer's passions and interests and provides ongoing recommendations of ideal service opportunities.

class='subhead'>Speed volunteering projects

Check out a listing of projects that were created by local non-profits and United Way. Each worksheet contains a project that is focused around addressing a commonly expressed need from clients that are served in our community. These projects can be easily coordinated and completed with friends, families, youth groups or coworkers. Simply choose a project and follow the worksheet. When you have completed your project, drop off the finished product at United Way. United Way will then connect these resources with people who need them in Douglas and Pope Counties.

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Way also offers many ways to serve through special events or programs such as Mobile Food Drops, Backpack Attack and Stuff the Bus packing events, Adopt A Family or through collections of coats, books and school supplies. We can help you put your values into action!

United Way has identified five core values that guide our work in the community — Stewardship, Trustworthy, Respect, Community Collaboration and Innovation.

This is how United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Douglas and Pope counties. Connecting volunteer passions with local opportunities creates a healthier community. Giving helps others in need and can in turn improve your own personal health and happiness or improve your corporate culture. Volunteers are the glue that holds a community together!

For more information, contact our office at 320-834-7800, visit our website at or email

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Jen Jabas is the director of the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties. "In the Know" is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.