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Volunteering is key to North Country organizations

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Tuesday morning, members of the Antique Boat Museum (ABM) staff joined a room full of Northern New York non-profit staffers at the Ramada Inn in Watertown for a seminar relating to volunteerism, which was hosted by the United Way of NNY and ADK. Bob Gorman, director of the United Way of NNY led off the event with a brief introduction and soon handed the floor over to Kathy Snow, director of development for the United Way of ADK.

Did you know that many of the non-profits in our region are in desperate need of volunteer help in order to operate?

The ABM, already the odd bunch in the crowd based on our organization type, chimed in during the introduction session and informed the group of the astounding volunteer numbers the Museum had in 2013. Since its inception, the ABM has functioned and grown because of the assistance of more than 150 volunteers. Just this past year, ABM volunteers contributed over 9,000 work hours - absolutely amazing. The hard work of those volunteers equates to more than a $70,000 savings in operational costs. As the group sat and listened to Kathy, it came to light as to what the various needs are by the organizations in attendance. A Boys & Girls Club about to open in Massena needs day-to-day help, emergency response groups need willing people trained and ready to be deployed in the event of an emergency, and the Girl Scouts are always looking for leaders and helping hands.

So, you stop and think to yourself... do I volunteer? If not, why? If so, why?

The United Way listed some of the benefits of volunteering:

a) Make new relationships/friendships
b) Develop new skills and experience
c) Create a better community
d) Personal satisfaction
e) Recognition
f) Possible entry into an organization for other opportunities (such as a future job)

At the ABM, we believe participation provides all of those benefits to those who assist us. Numerous relationships have been formed at the Museum, multiple skills are honed in all areas of the operation, a thriving ABM means a thriving Clayton community, smiles of satisfaction can always be found as a project wraps up, a hand shake or a simple thank you from our staff is the least bit of recognition we can give, and the opportunities for future involvement are plentiful. While our organization recognizes that we may be in better shape, based on the number of volunteers we have, compared to other organizations, it is still important to us to retain, maintain, and attract more to our already strong foundation.

In late 2013, the ABM launched V.I.P., a program aimed at achieving those three goals. The V(olunteer) I(nitiative) P(rogram) is in place to ensure we continue to have very important people at our side. Current volunteers have the ability to receive incentives such as wine and cheese cruises, t-shirts, and more for bringing a new volunteer to the team. Our staff's role in the program is to participate in outreach, much like Tuesday's event, in an effort to find new volunteers. As an organization, we should be thankful for the time that volunteers donate, however we must always be prepared to replace them in the event that their commitment to the organization can no longer be fulfilled.

The need for help will always be there - whether at the ABM or the Boys & Girls Club - and we hope that you will take a minute to stop and think to yourself... maybe I should become a volunteer today.

For more information on volunteer opportunities across Northern New York, log onto www.northcountryvolunteer.org today!

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