The Ottumwa Courier


December 12, 2012

Volunteering: ’Tis always the season

Guest editorial

OTTUMWA — From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day you can typically see an increase in volunteers throughout the community. During the holiday season we tend to count our blessings and share our good fortune, be it donations of time or money. Volunteering is more than a holiday affair and is another engine that drives our economy and helps our communities to survive and grow.

When you run a quick Google search for volunteerism and the contribution to economic development, the results are mainly focused on efforts in third-world countries. What about the ability to affect our own region and enhance entrepreneurship and economic activity through volunteerism? The Corporation for National and Community Service reported that in 2010 26.3 percent of adults in the United States donated time. All together the impact of these individuals totaled 8.1 million hours or $173 billion in time contributions.

Iowans rank second among all states for the percentage of individuals that volunteer their time and 13th in the amount of time per individual as reported on Iowa City ranks third in the country for volunteering efforts when compared to all mid-sized cities. The Minneapolis St. Paul metro region ranks No.1 in the United States for large cities. Really making a difference through volunteerism relies on gaining from the specialized skills of the volunteers. The more people that volunteer in a variety of professions, the greater is the gain in the community overall.  

Places to contribute are much greater than you may expect — has a search engine where you simply input your zip code and volunteer opportunities in your area as well as statewide will be displayed. I was surprised to find 137 area listings when I input 52501. Needs range from working with seniors to youth to pets, in schools as well as various nonprofit and civic organizations. Iowa is doing a great job, but more is needed.

Starting small by helping with a single event may be the best bet for those with limited availability. You may be amazed at how great you feel after giving your time for a good cause. Volunteering is also a great way to network and become socially aware. Raising a generation of volunteers as well as civic-minded individuals contributes to the long-term sustainability of a community. Obviously Midwestern values include volunteering given the rankings of Iowa and our neighboring states, let’s be sure to continue to pass along these values to our children.

Kelly Poppe-Gale is the RELI coordinator for entrepreneurship and business incubation at Indian Hills Community College. She can be reached via email at

Text Only
  • Make Ottumwa Shine offers opportunity We hear a lot of complaints about the condition of our town. Some are justified, others are the kind of carping that happens in any community. But this month shows the difference between those who just want to complain and people who are genuinely in

    May 2, 2014

  • Investing more money in tornado research would be a disaster

    This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funding to focus on improving forecasts of "high impact weather events" like tornadoes and hurricanes "for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy."

    April 4, 2014

  • 1120 OTT Opinion Reiter bw photo -L A running Start The Great American Smokeout is tomorrow. The American Cancer Society has chosen the third Thursday in November for this annual event to encourage smokers to quit. There are still an estimated 43.8 million cigarette smokers in the U.S. and several mil

    November 19, 2013 1 Photo

  • No Headline Provided

    October 25, 2013

  • Be aware of prostate cancer I am very pleased to see the coverage and interest in breast cancer with October designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are about 220,000 new cases of breast cancer reported every year, and it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths

    October 4, 2013

  • Our View Election a chance to move Ottumwa forward Over the past several days, the Courier sat down with each of the candidates for City Council. Among the candidates are some of the best people we've seen step forward in a very long time. We'll endorse candidates for the general election. What we wa

    October 4, 2013

  • Broadband Internet just the beginning I had the opportunity to meet the broadband delegation from Ottumwa who recently toured Steuben County, Ind. As one of the iMAN Fiber Network team members, I can assure you this was an incredible experience for both of our groups. First, as I've lear

    September 14, 2013

  • Request free utility locates using Iowa One Call technology Iowa homeowners who need to dig on their property have free access to an updated technology tool, iTic Lite, available from Iowa One Call, the organization tasked with promoting the message "Call before you dig in Iowa." For their own safety and that

    September 10, 2013

  • Tell us your survivor story The world is filled with stories. Some make front-page news while others get hidden and are never told. Stories of people who overcome obstacles should have a place to make their voices heard. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Courier

    September 6, 2013

  • School board voting will be a little easier Tuesday The League of Women Voters would like to encourage a greater participation by voters in the upcoming election of school board members. It is encouraging to see a larger number of citizens campaigning to serve their community on the school board. I

    September 6, 2013

AP National