ServiceNation is a national campaign dedicated to increasing service opportunities, solving chronic social problems through service, and promoting a culture of service in America. In the spirit of ServiceNation, we are collecting stories of your volunteer experiences and how volunteering has affected your life. What better way to inspire others than through our stories? Click here for more information on ServiceNation.

E-mail your stories to amanda.martin@vcstory.org.

 

Photos of volunteers in action!

 

Here are a few stories of local people whose lives have been affected by volunteering:

"I spent my last spring break on a mission trip to Appalachia. We helped put a new roof on a home for girls. The people I worked with were absolutely amazing, and I grew really close to all of them. It took us a week of working through rain and shine, but in the end, it was all worth the gratitude expressed by the director's beaming face. I love helping anybody who needs a hand because whether it's a big favor or a small favor, it makes a difference in their life. Volunteering is extremely rewarding because you not only feel pride in what you've done, but you meet new people and gain new friendships. Money can't buy that kind of happiness." - Dani Techentin, 10,000 Hours Show staff

“It has been an unbelievably humbling and rewarding experience to travel to New Hartford to help out with the flood relief effort there.  It puts everything in perspective to see how much work there is to do.  Yet at the same time, we are able to make significant progress every time we go up there in at least a couple of people's lives.  It is all worth it when you see the look of renewed hope on their faces when they are able to see large changes towards the return of a normal life. We plan on making more trips, focusing mainly on putting in sub-floors and dry wall into the damaged houses with some other work thrown in as well.  We would love to welcome as many people as we can accommodate.  If interested please contact me at sheldahl@gmail.com.  Thanks a lot!” John Sheldahl, Cyclones Rebuilding Iowa 

 

"I take the time to volunteer not only because it is important to others, but because I get to meet new people and feel good about my accomplishments. My first volunteer experience this year was serving food to low income families at the Food at First program with the Singles Group. I remember feeling very surprised that there were so many people there who were in need. Afterwards I made sure to go back and volunteer there again on my own because I felt that it was the least I could do to help out. Getting the chance to interact one on one with the people I was helping felt amazing because I knew I was making a difference in their lives." -Julie Boyer, Students in Action

"Starting in high school, I really began to become involved in volunteering. I saw it as a fulfilling opportunity and it came to be one of my favorite hobbies. Now that I am in college at Iowa State University, I remain active with this hobby by participating in Students In Action. I plan to continue volunteering all throughout my life because I simply love helping others and it is a great way to meet new people. Everyone should take the time to volunteer because it helps build character, leadership, and develop skills that many jobs are looking for." -Monica Elmore, Students in Action

 

"I am an AmeriCorps VISTA having a Peace Corps experience in Iowa. As VISTAs well know, we don't earn a huge salary. This can make finding a place to live a challenge. I was fortunate enough to find an affordable apartment living with people from Colombia and Brazil. Through these associations, I have become friends with people in many South American countries, France, India, Czech Republic and more. Most of them are international students with little money themselves, but they are a strong community, having potlucks and fiestas often, and welcoming of people of all cultures and backgrounds. They have taught me about community. Through my work at the Volunteer Center of Story County, I have worked with 100 non-profit organizations and hundreds of volunteers. I have seen that we all have the interest of the community at heart and we can make a difference in the lives of many through our volunteer work. I have seen the bonds made and the lives changed through groups such as Students in Action, the Singles Volunteer Group, the 10,000 Hours Show and much more. Hearing the personal stories of others have numerous times brought tears to my eyes. I continue to volunteer because of these relationships, stories, and the difference that is made." - Amanda Martin, AmeriCorps VISTA

"After I graduated from college, I volunteered in Duran, Ecuador for one year with an organization called Rostro de Cristo.  I lived in community with 4 other volunteers and we all had different ways we spent our time.  I spent my mornings working as a receptionist in a medical dispensary.  The dispensary was such a gift to the people in the neighborhood who would otherwise have to travel some distance to receive medical care.  I witnessed a lot of problems regarding health complications and health care as a result of poverty. Quality health care should be a right, not a privilege, but it doesn’t always work that way. In the afternoons I taught English to students who were given the opportunity to receive a solid education—something they didn’t take for granted.  Outside of my “work” I tried to get to know my Ecuadorian neighbors, hear their stories, and share in their struggles.  They were exceedingly hospitable and generous, sharing whatever they had with me, even a cup of Coke.  I became very close with one family in the neighborhood who I fully consider my family.  I went to their house every day before I went to teach.  The mother of the family cooked lunch for me every day.  Her three girls greeted me with a hug every day on my way home from school.  They were materially poor but rich in other ways.  The experience inspired me to look out for the needs of all people, see the beauty in all situations, and share in others’ suffering so that it will call me to do something about it." - Jenny Stiefel