I’ve become pretty well known in the Muncie community for my volunteer efforts. Most days when I’m not working as a stylist in the hair industry, you’ll find me working alongside other volunteers with many of the nonprofit organizations in the Muncie community. What started as a single volunteer gig has grown to working regularly with four organizations and serving on a few Boards. I know it sounds like lots of work and little time for self, but the truth is I absolutely love it and honestly it has enriched my life in so many ways! I know the focus of volunteering should be on the need of those we serve, but I’d like to take a moment to tell you about the positive impact volunteering has had on my life.
On a personal level volunteering in the Muncie community was a fantastic way to get to know people, build relationships and develop a sense of community. I have met so many people from so many backgrounds and walks of life – all with the common needs and desires to create good in our community. I’ve developed a great appreciation for the diversity that exists in Muncie. So many of the people I’ve met through volunteering have become dear friends, mentors/mentees, and even clients!
Surprisingly, the connections I made and exposure I got volunteering throughout the community also benefited me on a professional level. It made sense, of course, when volunteer gigs involved my professional hair and makeup skills at the Civic Theater or local high school drama programs. However, it became apparent that it didn’t matter what the volunteer gig was, the more I got involved, the more people I worked with became clients, and the more I would receive referrals. It’s my opinion that people want to support and spend money with people they know are using it to create good within the community.
The most beneficial way volunteering has affected me is by increasing the level of positive impact I have been able to create in our community. I have learned so much, gained incredible skills, and have experienced so much personal growth through volunteering. By working alongside Loretta Parsons, our Executive Director, on a weekly basis in the kitchen, I have learned so much about running a kitchen, food management, and feeding large groups of people. After being invited onto the Soup Kitchen’s Board by Loretta and Clare Chatot, our Board President, I had the opportunity to learn how to fund-raise. Through this experience I have learned how to talk to major donors, solicit sponsorships, and gain support for our cause. Alongside the board I have picked up so many major event planning skills!
Everything I have learned volunteering at the Soup Kitchen and the other nonprofits in the Muncie community has enabled me to better serve my community, and these organizations I care about. I am still growing and learning. Right now, I’m learning about things like writing and applying for Grants and how to become a community leader. Through these volunteer opportunities I have been able to be a part of so much good in our community and I find my life constantly enriched because of it!
By SteVen Knipp, Soup Kitchen of Muncie Board of Directors Member