Catch The Spirit

(Second left) Tracy Timmons, Executive Director of the Community Foundation, presented the Youth Volunteer of the Year award to Red Lodge High School student Gabby Sullivan. Also present is RLHS Principal Rex Ternan and Rue Freeman (far right).

I n spite of the fast pace and pressures of our daily lives, many of our community members take time to volunteer. Everyone has something to give. Recently, the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation celebrated and recognized a few of their volunteers. As Henry Ford said, “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business.”

Lyle Zimmerman, President of First Interstate Bank, represented all bank staff when he received the Corporate Giving Program of the Year award. Tracy Timmons, Executive Director of the Foundation, presented the award and pointed out, “First Interstate Bank not only encourages employee giving by providing matching funds on charitable contributions, they also support employee volunteerism and creatively align to solve problems with local nonprofits.”

Volunteering is the ultimate act of community building. When you volunteer, you act out the kind of community that you want to live in. This is certainly true for our youth volunteer of the year, Gabby Sullivan. Timmons stated that, “Gabby was chosen for the youth award because of the many hours that she spends on Facebook informing the public about the efforts of the Foundation, Nonprofits, and the Fun Run. Gabby’s ability to balance her volunteer work along with her school work and extracurricular activities exemplifies strong leadership capability.” No one is more cherished in this world than some one who lightens the burden of another. This is especially true for our Fun Run Volunteer of the Year: Pat Corbe. “Pat provided the largest number of individual Fun Run volunteer hours by working 99 hours!” stated Timmons.

There are two major benefits of volunteerism: social and economic. Socially, volunteering helps to build cohesive communities, fostering greater trust between citizens. Economically, volunteering would otherwise have to be funded by government, local businesses or interested donors. Interested donors like Montana Community Foundation, who did just that. The Red Lodge Area Community Foundation received their highest grant award in the 2013 grant making cycle: $11,000.00. The funding will be used to support and expand a vital nonprofit network. A vital nonprofit network depends on a diverse, dedicated and skilled volunteer base. The Foundation will serve as a conduit to engage and develop volunteers by developing infrastructure to streamline volunteerism. The Foundation’s fully funded project has many expected impacts for the community including:

An increase in the total number of community members volunteering-youth and adults; An improved workforce through volunteer work experience, training and skill development; Help to nonprofits starved for human resources to find capable, enthusiastic volunteers who will help them accomplish their missions; Assistance to new comers and part time residents in actively volunteering within the community they are already drawn to. Members from Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County, Food Partnership Council, Elks Lodge, American Red Cross, the Hospital Association and Cedar Wood Villa attended the original project development meetings and are involved in the initial testing of the proposed volunteer infrastructure.

The Foundation plans to kick off the finely tuned, community wide volunteer program in early Fall. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”