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Richland County has a lot to offer.

The county's rich environments include the rolling countryside of Clear Fork and Lucas as well as the historic downtown Carrousel District of Mansfield. Locals also enjoy choices for higher education in Ontario, beautiful parks, and numerous attractions like Kingwood Center, the Renaissance theater, Snow Trails and the Ohio State Reformatory (just to name a few).

For all of the opportunities we might enjoy this summer, it's also important to remember to give back to our community.

Volunteering is one way to help those in need and make the community stronger. It is also incredibly rewarding. Below, we've listed just a few reasons we believe volunteering is worth your while, as well as some suggestions for places to get started.


1. Meet New People

Whether you're new to the area and looking to make friends or you've lived here for years, volunteering is an easy way to meet people. The people you meet volunteering may be people you would never have met otherwise, yet they might become cherished friends or even valuable business contacts.

If you're looking for a social experience, you may consider joining a service-based club or organization. Richland County is home to a Kiwanis chapter, five Lions International chapters (Bellville, Butler, Crestline, Lucas and Madison), and RSVP of Mid Ohio, a club for retirees and seniors dedicated to serving the community. There are also two divisions of Lions International for teenagers, the Leo Alpha Club in Lexington and the Leo Alpha Club in Lucas.


2. Give Back

Think of someone who has had a positive impact on your life. Where would you be without them? How would your life be different?

There are plenty of opportunities to be a positive, perhaps even life-changing presence in another person's life. Whether that means being a mentor dad or mom through the Richland Pregnancy Center, helping out your local library, or being a smiling face that makes that visit to the hospital a little easier, there's a way for everyone to pass kindness on to another.


3. Pursue Your Passion

Volunteer positions aren't one-size-fits-it-all. There are nonprofits and organizations dedicated to a variety of interests and causes.

Do you love the arts? Consider helping out at the Mansfield Art Center or selling tickets at the Renaissance.

Are you passionate about fitness? Become a sports or aerobics instructor at the YMCA.

If you enjoy gardening, there's a place for you at Kingwood Center Gardens or the Ohio Bird Sanctuary.

If you're skilled at home repair or auto maintenance, you can provide aid to an elderly widow or widower through Samaritans for Seniors.


4. Learn a New Skill 

Volunteering can be an outlet for your current skills, but it can also be a way to learn something new. You'll see what it's like behind the scenes at a hospital, food pantry or after-school program and possibly be trained in a task you didn't know how to do before.

Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio prepares volunteers to teach economics and personal finance classes to young students.

If you give time at a local hospital, you may learn to assist physical and occupational therapists. 

OSU Extension trains master gardeners and certified volunteer naturalists so they can pass on their knowledge to children, the elderly and other gardening enthusiasts.

Many organizations just need someone with practical office skills, and will be happy to show you the ropes.


5. Find a Career Boost 

Volunteering can be especially beneficial to job seekers. The search for employment can be draining, but the chance to do something productive and meaningful a few hours a week can improve your mentality and your mood.

Volunteering has been shown to contribute to a positive mindset and give volunteers a sense of purpose. It can also help you land a job—volunteering helps build connections and looks great on a résumé. Your giving of your free time shows a potential employer that you are compassionate and driven. Volunteers are also likely to work well in groups—a valuable attribute for any employee.


6. Strengthen Your Community 

A strong community is one where everyone contributes. And there are several local organizations whose daily work is achieving a better community. 

Volunteers at the Culliver Reading Center invest in the next generation with homework help and afterschool programs.

Harmony House volunteers help the homeless and unemployed get back on their feet with mentorships and life skills training, child care, transportation to job interviews and much more.


7. Watch a Little Become A Lot

Most people want to make a difference. You don't have to solve world hunger or donate millions of dollars to make a positive impact. Just a little bit of time and effort can generate a better life for someone else.

Every dollar raised at Relay for Life means hope for a cure.

One toy from Toy Time can brighten a child's Christmas.

Being a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters takes one hour a week, but it's been shown to boost a child's confidence as well as reduce risk-taking behaviors.


If you are considering giving your time, go for it! There are so many great reasons to get involved. For a list of local organizations in need of volunteers, click here


"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."  — Winston Churchill

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