Thirty years ago, a dedicated group of volunteers started organizing to create Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota. These individuals were inspired to put their hearts and hands into working together to create affordable housing. And, they did that in no short order. Less than a year after pulling together their first Board meeting, they were up to their elbows in the renovation of a fire-damaged home in North Mankato.

Since then, Habitat’s reliance on volunteers has significantly grown. In addition to working on a construction crew, Habitat utilizes volunteers in a multitude of ways. There is a place for everyone and every skill level. Whether it be sitting on the Board or a Committee, volunteering in the ReStore, helping with events, or assisting with administrative tasks, we appreciate all of the time volunteers contribute to our work! Volunteering with us is about giving, contributing, and helping other individuals and the community at large. Every donated hour moves us closer to getting eligible families into safe, decent and affordable housing. Volunteering is working with others to make a meaningful contribution to a better community.

People volunteer for an endless variety of reasons. Many people want to gain experience, acquire new skills, meet new people, or expand their network of contacts as a way to get a new job or start a career. Others just want to give back to their community, to help a friend or promote a worthwhile activity. They do it because it makes them feel good. With both men and women living longer and enjoying better health into their later years, retirement has become an extremely active phase of life in which many seniors finally have time to devote to causes and interests that have previously taken a backseat to careers or family obligations.

Research has shown that the benefits of volunteering are enormous. While volunteering offers vital help to organizations in need, volunteering is a two-way street: It can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. It’s been shown that giving to others can help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience; however, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.

The Habitat Chapter in St. Peter has been blessed over the years to have a committed corps of volunteers who work together in a variety of ways. They are involved in all aspects of building homes in St. Peter…raising money, recruiting prospective homeowners, sitting on Boards and Committees, constructing houses, and putting in landscaping. We would be delighted to have you join our volunteer efforts in St. Peter. If you are interested, please call the Habitat office at 507-388-2081 extension 2. We hope to see you soon!

Connie Ireland is the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of South Central Minnesota.

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