Recognizing The Powerful Impact Of Volunteers In Supporting And Strengthening Communities To Positively Impact The World

12 min read MAR 27, 2024

If you look up the word volunteer in the dictionary, you’ll likely find a definition similar to this - “a person who voluntarily offers to perform a service or other undertaking.”

Of course, I realize you might be thinking, that’s a little unnecessary, defining this word that we’re all very familiar with, but I opened with this common, yet vague, definition for one reason…I believe it to be wholly inadequate.

Now, my intent isn’t to demean this common definition, however I find myself writing to you today having just witnessed, in action, a great outpouring, leading to an even greater understanding, of what it truly means to be a volunteer.

This past weekend, tragedy struck the county I grew up in when a young man, an 18 year old boy who’d impacted his community in a powerful way through his amazing talents and outstanding character, went missing.

Within moments of finding his empty kayak on the water at Versailles Lake, it wasn’t just park officials and first responders who embarked on the quest to find this young man, but multitudes of volunteers within the community aided in the search that evening and in the days that followed.

These people put aside their personal wants, desires, and duties, instead working together towards a common goal, a worthy cause, supporting both a family in crisis and a community in need.

In fact, so many volunteers showed up to the park to aid in search efforts, despite knowing risks of dangerous terrain and high waters, that officials had to start turning people away.

Some first responders reported putting in countless overtime hours, ones they in no way desired to log because they simply wanted to help, to support this family, and volunteer their time, expertise, and heart in doing so.

Many local businesses selflessly provided meals to those aiding in the search.

A small cafe in town provided hot coffee for all those assisting around the clock.

Volunteer firefighters lended their time, care, and expertise.

Countless businesses, many churches, and even schools within the community opened their doors so neighbors could gather to pray, support, and care for those hurting from the tragedy.

And eventually, even organizations like EquuSearch volunteered their time, expertise, tools, and resources to locate the young man.

Sadly, these efforts came to a heartbreaking end Sunday evening.

But, in the wake of this tragedy, this small community with an overwhelmingly huge heart, showed the world what it means to volunteer.

You see, volunteering isn’t simply offering time or services.

Instead, I believe what happened in this small community showcases the inexpressibly profound impact of the true essence of what it means to volunteer, a definition that can’t be found in a dictionary…

When you volunteer, you show kindness.

When you volunteer, you serve those in your neighborhood and community.

When you volunteer, you support those in need.

When you volunteer, you take part in strengthening your community and making a positive impact on the world as a whole.

When you volunteer, you connect with your neighbors and fellow citizens to make a difference.

I know this introduction to our subject matter today is a heavy one, but I can think of no better way to show the immensely profound impact such selfless acts of service and support have on the world.

Of course, I also realize most volunteer work doesn’t revolve around tragedy, but volunteering is commonly done locally, right in your own backyard, in towns, neighborhoods, and communities, just like my home county.

And, it’s easy to think that a simple service in your neighborhood isn’t actually such a grand thing.

However, what the folks who came together in Ripley County, Indiana will boldly tell you is this - what we do at home, in our own neighborhoods and communities matters…it ripples outward, influencing and changing the world…for good!

So, in the remainder of our time here today, I’d like to celebrate such selfless acts of service, support, connectivity, and kindness by showcasing a few organizations that are changing the world through the support, service, and sacrifice of volunteers in communities across our nation and the world.

These organizations are those our company admires for the good they are doing in the world, but we also realize the profound work of volunteering spans many more areas and agencies.

So, I hope you’ll consider supporting those organizations that align with your beliefs, even volunteering with your own hands and heart to be a part of the good that ripples outward from such efforts to make our world a better place.

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3 Powerful Ways To Change The World Through Volunteering

1- People

One way we can change the world is by supporting those people in our own communities who may find themselves in need, and there are commonly multiple opportunities in each city or town to do just that.

Now, I will say that each community is unique in the services they offer to support others, but a few common (though broadly categorized and named) organizations that lend a hand to those in need are food banks or food pantries as well as clothing closets.

For instance, our local clothing closet accepts donations of clothing items for those in need within the community, but they also rely on the aid of volunteers to help sort, organize, and distribute items to those who need them most.

Then, there are multiple food banks and pantries in my town, each of which rely on both monetary and food donations as well as volunteers to sort and distribute food to those in need throughout the community.

Recently Lifeboost donated a large amount of coffee to one such food bank, a lesser known one in my town, and the couple who runs this organization explained how grateful they were that we chose to donate to their organization as most in the town aren’t aware of their efforts.

This, of course, sparked a conversation which opened up an avenue of support, namely that part of volunteering which involves awareness, spreading the word both when organizations have a need for volunteers as well as informing the public of where needed resources may be obtained within a given community.

And, this leads me to another point pertaining to offering aid and/or support in your own town or neighborhood…

While not an organization, per say, it’s a good idea to contact your local Chamber of Commerce for ways to best serve and support your community through volunteering.

In fact, in many cities, the Chamber of Commerce is actually run by volunteers who dedicate their efforts to improving their communities by serving people, protecting the environment, and much more.

Then, another way to support, connect with, and aid people in your community is by volunteering at a local school or library.

In the regions where our coffee is grown, we support Project Alianza, an organization which builds schools in these mountain communities so children can have localized, hygienic educational opportunities, promoting literacy and teaching skills to children granting them the opportunity to thrive beyond life on a coffee farm.

But, as I’m sure you can imagine, building schools is costly and it requires both skill and aid.

From afar, we have been blessed to volunteer our efforts in raising and donating money to support Project Alianza’s mission, and locally folks routinely lend their hands and expertise, coming together as a community to see these schools built and the lives of children positively impacted for generations to come.

Other ways to connect with and support schools in your community involve lending a hand to conduct fundraisers as well as speaking with school officials and teachers to see if volunteer tutoring services are needed.

And, obviously there are countless other, well-known, organizations that greatly need the support of volunteers to carry out their mission, such as -

Habitat For Humanity - This volunteer-based group works to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness by building homes. They believe “affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities.”

American Red Cross - Through the Red Cross, volunteers assist in a variety of needs within a given community, from serving meals to victims of disaster to helping with blood drives, and much more.

Feed America - We mentioned food pantries and banks above, but Feed America is a national organization which is seeking to eliminate world hunger. If your community does not have an official Feed America sponsored food bank, check with your Chamber of Commerce to find out which organizations in your area may be in need of volunteer support or donations.

Community Centers - These can range in name from town to town, but those cities with a community center present a great opportunity for anyone looking to positively impact the lives of others, where volunteers can serve and support children, elderly populations, even veterans, by simply connecting with such individuals, showing kindness, meeting needs, and improving the lives of all involved (including the volunteers).

Other ways to support your neighbors include volunteering at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, women’s shelters, crisis centers, crisis hotlines, your local library, and more.

Each of these agencies have the common goal of strengthening communities by supporting those living within them.

These are your neighbors, the present and future of your town and beyond. Consider donating your treasures or volunteering your time to connect, serve, and show kindness in any of the above avenues of support.

2- Planet

If you’ve been a Lifeboost customer for very long, you likely know we aren’t only passionate about connecting with and supporting people, but we strongly believe in protecting and preserving the planet as well.

While we’re not living in the regions where our coffee is grown, we take an active role in doing this in those areas through a commitment to using sustainable farming methods, those which refrain from practices which would harm the planet and instead improve soil quality and enhance biodiversity.

We also support organizations such as the Rainforest Trust which protects not only those regions where our coffee is grown but millions of acres of rainforest across the globe as well.

But, while these endeavors are certainly needed, we also recognize the essential demand to support the environment right where we’re at, in our own towns, cities, and neighborhoods.

As in finding ways to support the people near you, your local Chamber of Commerce is also a good source for finding ways to protect and preserve the environment in your community.

Some cities also have Community Clean Up organizations (sometimes under this exact name, other times locally named) which utilize the service of volunteers to improve public spaces and clean up parks, schoolyards, highways, and other properties.

This organization, specifically, often involves the youth in a community to grant them the opportunity to volunteer and instill within them the value of supporting and making a difference in the place where they live.

The National Parks Service is another organization which largely relies on the selfless service of volunteers to preserve parks and natural landscapes so these resources may be protected for generations to come.

And, while The Nature Conservancy isn’t as widely known as some others, this non-profit works to protect both our nation’s lands and waterways, using volunteers for “greening urban spaces, protecting clean waterways,” and more.

Of course, should you find your community does not have any of these organizations, it’s important to note that making a difference doesn’t always have to mean you’re working under a nationally known agency.

Within your neighborhood you can also garner volunteer support to band together and clean up your community, doing needful work such as cleaning up trash along highways and in parks, planting trees (with town approval) or flowers, or holding events to bring awareness to issues which threaten our planet on a global scale, etc.

3- Pets

I went with “pets” here essentially for the alliteration factor, but I want to include all animal life in this point.

Most of us here are animal lovers through and through, and we seek ways to support and protect wildlife through donations, by supporting the work of animal shelters in our coffee growing regions, and through adoptions (such as Coffee Bean, an endangered giraffe in Uganda and Cinta, an endangered Sumatran tigress).

Agencies such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, the World Wildlife Fund, as well as a variety of ocean-focused organizations all rely on charitable donations to do the work of protecting our world’s wonderful wildlife, but many such agencies also rely on volunteer work which often focuses on bringing awareness to aid in fundraising, etc.

But, to bring things closer to home, unless you live in a region where exotic wildlife is in abundance, it’s likely most animal aiding efforts are exercised in local shelters.

Animal shelters heavily rely on volunteer support to care for abandoned animals, bring awareness to their goals and mission, foster pets preparing for adoption, and more.

Then, while this last option may seem a bit more “outside the box,” I want to conclude today by returning to the unfortunate event I described at the onset of this piece.

The young man who lost his life in Ripley County, Indiana this past weekend was only 18 years old, but over the last few years he developed an intense love for nature and wildlife photography.

He spent countless hours at the Versailles State Park filming and capturing breathtaking images of wildlife that many folks didn’t even realize were in the area.

In doing so, he learned of park agencies and surrounding organizations which sought to bring an awareness to and an appreciation for local wildlife, and he volunteered his time working with such groups.

But, Carson Hughes also shared his talent in wildlife photography with followers on social media to bring to life the wildly wonderful world right within his own community, voluntarily (and happily) bringing awareness to the need to appreciate and protect such creatures and their habitats.

Sure, this may not seem like a conventional means of volunteering, but that’s just it, to revisit our initial thought, volunteering goes far beyond any definition in a dictionary.

At the heart of volunteering, is a desire to bring awareness, a commitment to doing better, and a focus on connecting with, supporting, and strengthening the communities, people, planet, and wildlife right where you’re at.

We chose to recognize volunteers and the work they do today, highlighting ways you can get involved, because this type of kindness and service has a profound impact, one which is highly contagious, inspiring positive changes that ripple from town to town, state to state, across our country and our world…to make it a better place!

So, join us in…



bringing awareness,


and impacting our world in a powerfully positive way!

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Headshot of Becky Livingston Vance
Becky Livingston Vance Content writer

Becky is a mother, educator, and content writer for Lifeboost Coffee. She has had three years’ experience as a writer, and in that time she has enjoyed creatively composing articles and ebooks covering the topics of coffee, health and fitness, education, recipes, and relationships.


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