Strong community is built on volunteerism

Amy Clickner

vol≤un≤teer

/ˌvälənˈtir/

noun a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.

Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting to the Ishpeming Rotary Club. What you may not know is that Rotary was one of the places I “cut my teeth” in the volunteer world. From chairing Seafood Fest with my good Rotarian friend, Dr. Chris Wilkinson, to presiding as president one year, I truly believe I “took” more than I gave with what I learned about leadership and service.

While the saying goes “love makes the world go ’round” I would argue that so do volunteers. Think about it. How often do you interact with a volunteer or volunteer yourself?

In our community, volunteers are part of what makes us so special. From an event perspective, they would not be possible if it wasn’t for people giving their time. International Food Fest, Relay for Life, Ore to Shore, Iron Range Roll, to name a few, all rely on volunteers.

Let’s look at our school systems. Booster clubs, concession stands, classroom support and chaperones allow parents and other caregivers the opportunity to support their local schools. And for students, a variety of clubs, organizations and elected positions give them a taste of giving back even before adulthood. Northern Michigan University provides students with ample volunteer opportunities including the Superior Edge program that has a component of becoming an engaged, involved citizen.

The Lake Superior Community Partnership is a nonprofit organization and we have a volunteer board of directors that help lead and support our strategic direction. Our task forces and committees are volunteers and give their time in areas such as the Lake Superior Leadership Academy, transportation, government relations and marketing. Our LSCP Foundation is also surrounded with great volunteer support.

Think of the number of boards and committees in and around the county that are populated with people giving back. United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, various foundations, churches and service clubs all require donated time to be successful.

Oftentimes when we look for organizations to provide our time and talent to, we forget about the public sector or elected positions. Think county board, city/township council, state or federal representatives, school board, planning commission, parks and recreation board and the long list of others required for government to do business. While I realize these types of positions may sound more intimidating, making sure we have strong elected officials serving the needs of our citizens is critical.

So how can you get involved?

¯ Be a guest at a service club meeting

¯ Attend your city council or planning commission meeting

¯ Research organizations in our area that spark your interest

¯ Ask friends, family and coworkers about their involvement

¯ Check out the “Volunteer Opportunities” page of The Mining Journal

¯ Talk to event coordinators and ask how you can help

I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest applying to the Lake Superior Leadership Academy, which is currently recruiting for the Class of 2020! The academy provides you an opportunity to address pertinent community needs, strengthen your leadership abilities and encourage you to personally commit to taking on new leadership roles in the community.

Really, the key is to jump right in and get involved! You will never regret giving your time, talent and treasure to something that betters the community in which you live. Be the example for others to follow.

Editor’s NOTE: Amy Clickner is CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. Her twice-monthly column will address topics of interest to the local business community.