Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." In today’s materialistic society we tend to think giving is all about money, but a great way to give is through your time and talents, also known as volunteering.

There are many reasons why people volunteer. We know it builds a sense of community within the volunteer organizations themselves but also in the greater community. It improves resilience, which helps people cope better in times of adversity and improves mental health in general. Anyone can volunteer. When people are not working in a paid job, volunteer work enhances meaning and purpose in life, improving socialization and building networks through new friends. Connecting through volunteerism increases personal wisdom by learning from others with different perspectives than our own. This all aids in building an empathetic community. Lastly, helping others aligns with most faith traditions.

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Adam Rees grew up in an east coast family that did not volunteer and his first exposure to volunteerism occurred when he moved to the Midwest in his late 20s. While his areas of focus have changed over the years his commitment has not. Today he finds himself spending time on a church worship team and leading a couple’s care group with his wife Rhoda, Rotary meetings and projects, Brainerd Dispatch Advisory Committee, and hosting 3 international students over the holidays for a month. Of greatest importance has been the health and wellness movement he founded called Crow Wing Energized. While his leadership role has recently diminished, he’s loved supporting the food distribution through the pandemic.

Tyler Anthoney is an account executive for Recover Health Home Care, has lived in the Brainerd lakes area since October of 2020. Recover Health makes a difference by providing care to families in their homes, and by keeping actively involved in our community. Tyler states, “As a volunteer, I have been lucky to work with wonderful groups such as Crow Wing Energized and the Central MN Council on Aging. With Recover Health, we volunteer at events like Pop-Up Pantry (with Essentia Health and Second Harvest), and we are always looking for fun ways to help our entire team give back by setting up food drives. For me personally, I enjoy volunteering because it allows me to meet the great people of our community and continue to learn what I can do to make a difference in the lives of others,” Anthony said.

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David Boran, retired family physician and photographer, has lived in Brainerd since 1977 and likes to volunteer. “It gives me an opportunity to give back and experience new things and meet new people,” Boran said. He’s served on many boards over the years such as the Northland Arboretum, Lakes Area Music Festival and Saint Francis Catholic School Foundation board.

“In 2011 I got involved with the Lakes Area Music Festival as a photographer with the goal of capturing the emotional and artistic aspects of musicians performing, both as individuals and in groups. In 2013 I was asked to join their board which I now chair,” Boran said. Another passion for Dave has been delivering Meals on Wheels and getting to know the people on his weekly route over the past few years.

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Adam, Dave and Tyler are just a few examples of many Brainerd lakes area people who regularly volunteer. With a diversity of opportunities most residents can find an organization or activity that could use their unique God given talents. The benefit of volunteerism is not only the organizations and communities served but to the individual volunteers themselves. A wise person said, “Volunteers are not paid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”

To find volunteer opportunities, visit Lakes Area United Way online https://www.unitedwaynow.org/get-involved-volunteer.

Related: Crow Wing Energized: Cultivating Joy Through Living Mindfully