Pitch in to help our Camden Community during National Volunteer Month

Minnesotans are a generous lot when it comes to giving their time. A survey conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service reveals that 35.3 percent of state residents volunteered in 2014, the most recent year for which there is data. That’s fourth highest among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Some other interesting statistics from the survey: 1.5 million Minnesotans volunteered; volunteers tallied 153.1 million hours of service; and they donated hours that equaled $3.5 billion of service contributed.

While Minnesotans volunteer at a rate 10 percent higher than the national average—25.3 percent of all Americans give their time—the percentage of volunteers in the state is actually in a decade-long decline. In the early 2000s, volunteer rates topped 40 percent.

There is no time like the present to help reverse this trend. April is National Volunteer Month, a commemoration meant to honor those who give their time to communities across the country while encouraging others to get involved.

Fortunately, you needn’t go far to help out; volunteer opportunities on the Northside are plentiful in education, natural resources and community health—some of the most popular areas among Minnesota volunteers. And diverse needs allow for finding an opportunity that fits any schedule.

Here is a sampling of deserving organizations that could use your help:

Minneapolis Public Schools. Many parents volunteer in the schools of their children, but you don’t have to have a family to help young people achieve their dreams. Volunteering for Minneapolis Public Schools can allow you to help our city’s kids reach their full potential, meanwhile improving the health of the community. Training is provided, making it possible for anyone to contribute. Email volunteermps@mpls.k12.mn.us or call 612-668-3880 to learn about opportunities.

Hennepin County Library. From helping students with their homework to teaching computer skills to aiding English language learners, local libraries offer a wealth of opportunities for advancing education and improving life skills. Drop by your local branch of the Hennepin County library to see what you can do to help. Info on available opportunities is also available at hclib.org and at 612-543-8633.

Three Rivers Park District. North Mississippi Regional Park, overseen by the Three Rivers Park District, is a jewel among Camden’s green spaces. Offering nature education programs at the Carl Kroening Interpretive Center and miles of river access, this treasured resource relies on the help of volunteers. Visit threeriversparks.org to learn how you can help maintain trails, assist at local events, or serve in another volunteer role at North Mississippi Regional Park.

Minneapolis Police Activities League (PAL). PAL provides kids and teens throughout the Camden community with opportunities to participate in organized sports as well as educational camps and field trips. Volunteers can serve as coaches in sports that include baseball, football and hockey. Chaperones are also needed to lead youth trips to community attractions. Information on opportunities is available at minneapolispal.org and 612-673-2121.

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB). For more than 20 years, the MPRB has organized an annual Earth Day Clean Up. This year, the event takes place at parks around the city on Saturday, April 23, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Additional opportunities are available to volunteer throughout the year, including coaching youth sports, leading park classes, completing gardening projects and helping at events. Contact volunteers@minneapolisparks.org or 612-313-7779 for more info.

Senior Community Services. Volunteers who help the elderly provide critical services that seniors might not be able to afford. Senior Community Services coordinates volunteers to offer basic home maintenance, including outdoor tasks like raking, gardening and shoveling, as well as indoor chores such as cleaning and painting. No special skills are required and schedules are flexible. Medicare health insurance counselors are also needed. Visit seniorcommunity.org.

When you pitch at any of these organizations, you are not only helping to improve neighbors’ lives and strengthen the Camden Community — you’re also benefiting your health. Studies show that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and a lowered risk of developing depression.

If you want to get involved, but are passionate about a different cause not included here, visit handsontwincities.org to learn about more opportunities.