Kennebec Valley Chamber

Serving the Kennebec Valley, Maine Region

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Friday Report from Ross - April 17, 2015

Raise your hand! -  As you likely know already, this past Tuesday was our annual Membership Appreciation Day. This is the day when roughly 80 volunteers travel to almost 600 member businesses to deliver a gift bag and receive feedback on the chamber''s performance.

The day was a smashing success by all metrics. As I expected, the Chamber staff was flawless in their organization and coordination, putting the teams on various routes to ensure the best delivery flow. The staff is currently hard at work compiling the survey results to ensure we can learn from the feedback. The thing that I did not expect, however, was the enthusiasm of the volunteers.

On Monday, 10 folks from various businesses joined us for two hours to fill the 600 bags with the items that had been donated. This was monotonous and repetitive work, but never a single complaint. In fact, the room often was full of laughter. On Tuesday, the 80 volunteers gave up their time, gas and energy to visit the businesses. Each person who returned to the chamber was grinning ear to ear with how much fun they had and the photos coming in are fantastic.
This got me thinking about volunteering and I began pondering all the benefits of doing things like this. Many non-profits often struggle with finding the volunteers needed to do the fundraising, or organize and run events or even to be involved at the board of director level. While we at the KV Chamber have had great support, I felt it important this week to discuss a few of the benefits of volunteering that you may not be aware of.


~ Connects You To Others

Being part of a volunteer event or organization is a fantastic way to meet like-minded folks. You will find people who are of all different walks of life, but share that common interest. If you happen to struggle with meeting new people, volunteering is a great way to become more comfortable with that. Often, you can meet one or two folks in the organization, and they can connect you with the larger group.

~ Good for you physically and emotionally
There are countless studies on the benefits of being socially active and how it can help combat depression, reduce social isolation and dramatically increase self-confidence. In addition, the physical benefits are also very evident. Getting out and doing active things keeps you healthy and is much better for you than sitting on the couch!
~ Career Development
This aspect is one that I find most intriguing. By choosing the right organization and selecting tasks or responsibilities that are in line with your career choices, you can actually help fill out a resume very nicely. Many employers are looking for community minded and well-rounded individuals, and volunteer experience can often be the leg up you may need to land a new job. It can also allow you to test a field and see if that is a career you may want to do for a living.

~ It''s Just Plain Fun

Let''s face it; you rarely hear a group of volunteers sitting around complaining about what they are doing. The reason for that is that you are unlikely to volunteer for something you don''t enjoy doing. In fact, there are studies showing that people who volunteer 2-4 times a month are up to 12% happier than those who do not.
Some of the concerns when looking for a volunteer opportunity are also important to mention here. It''s important to ask a lot of questions before you commit, and understand the expectations. If you find it''s uncomfortable, be sure to make a change and most of all, go into it with the goal of having fun!
In closing, our region is chock full of volunteer opportunities and organizations that could use your help. While we would love your help at the chamber, we understand that folks need to find the right fit. I encourage you to do some digging and find a way to give some of your free time to an organization that you can be passionate about. Employers, consider giving raises or promotions to those employees who are active in the community. Make it a discussion point in your annual review.

Our sincere thanks again to those who participated this week in all the events around Member Appreciation day and if you are looking for more ways to get involved with this great group of Chamber volunteers or need something to do in your spare time, give us a call!