Dengler Domain: Volunteering

Whether it is giving money or donating my time to an organization, it is always worth it. Volunteering in the community is important. I saw it with my grandpa’s participation in the Lion’s Club which consisted of grandma and grandpa cutting up onions for their dinner, driving the truck with the big Lion in the parade, or helping him with the famous puck hitting game at the Winding Stairs Festival. My parents also volunteered with the North Tama Booster Club or on various community boards. This inspired me at my second home to serve on the Urbandale Fourth of July Celebration committee while also donating blood from time to time.

While it can be hard to find the time to volunteer, one will feel rewarded after it. If more people take this approach, more volunteers make for less work. What also helps is finding an organization that is the closest fit to one’s values. No matter the size of the community, there is always space to volunteer. No individual has ever gotten in trouble for too much volunteering nor has any organization been upset about too many volunteers.

If you have read, seen, or heard the news from small business owners, Iowa has a workforce shortage. It does not take much to wonder that this issue probably extends to the volunteer space. Giving up one’s time to help vulnerable people or helping one’s community will be rewarding. It can be as easy as picking up trash and seeing the grass below it start to grow. When volunteering for the community, it is understated how much a little help can give someone, an organization, or an activity a place to grow.

While it is ultimately up to individuals to volunteer, businesses can also play a role. Offering paid time to volunteer will always give their employees the chance to ditch the office or warehouse for half a day or a full day. By giving back through their employees’ volunteerism and/or monetary value, businesses will improve the long-term vitality of their community. Helping the vulnerable parts of the community leads to the adage, a rising tide lifts all boats.

While I may be biased, one part of Traer to admire is the strong sense of volunteerism in the community. Whether it was my grandparents’ generation or my parents’ generation, I remember seeing many put forth their time in the Traer community. Unfortunately, people have moved and/or passed away. A time for a new generation of volunteers is needed for the community.

The definition of community is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. A community is also individuals who pick each other up and maintain their strong togetherness. When more age groups and diversity volunteer together, it helps hold the fabric of a neighborhood in Des Moines or a small town like Traer together.

It only takes one mindset in one person to decide volunteering is worth doing. If you have the time, do it. If you think you do not have the time, ask yourself what is the bare minimum for which you could volunteer? By breaking down your volunteering ambition into small increments, the overwhelming thought of volunteering for an extended time will be relieved. No one is asking for an eight-hour commitment. If it works best, volunteer for an hour. At the end of the day, one hour of volunteering is better than none. No matter the amount of time you volunteer, you should be proud of yourself, and your community will be proud of you.

Sean Dengler is a writer, comedian, farmer, and host of the Pandaring Talk podcast who grew up on a farm between Traer and Dysart. You can reach him at sean.h.dengler@gmail.com.