By Robin E. Kinney
My life has been blessed by working alongside volunteers for nearly four decades. I know for a fact they’re the heart and soul of many nonprofit organizations, including my Farm Bureau. Program and policy successes are achieved by their efforts, their commitment, their connections, their dedication and their passion, which has a profound effect on all of us.
Engaged volunteers help organizations achieve and succeed because they are willing to do the things others are not. They show up, they are dependable, they are faithful, they serve without question and they are an unstoppable force. Volunteers are often involved in more than one organization, providing their leadership, experience and their talents across many areas. These gracious and giving souls often come from a family of dedicated volunteers and their enthusiasm is contagious.
I stand in awe and grateful appreciation for what volunteers do in a community, on an issue and in helping to embrace a need and find solutions. The recent global pandemic has shown how great need has been met by tireless volunteers. In 2020, state and county Farm Bureaus stepped up to donate millions of dollars and pounds of food to help those in need of assistance. In my Farm Bureau, volunteers of all ages are willing to lend a hand, regardless of the task.
National Volunteer Week is recognized in April each year, but these volunteers are never looking for praise or accolades of any kind. As a matter of fact, they’ll quickly brush aside a thank you and respond with a quick “happy to help” smile as they soldier on.
My Farm Bureau has harnessed the energy and innovation of volunteers for more than a century. Farm Bureau was founded by grassroots volunteers gathering throughout the country. They worked to make life better in their township, county and community. They still gather today in 78 county associations in Minnesota and nearly 2,800 county associations nationally. They meet regularly to talk about local, state and national issues. It is their unique and extraordinary vision that ensures Farm Bureau remains focused on identifying issues and developing solutions that make the organization the true Voice of Agriculture.
These volunteers are members that take their involvement to a new level and they enrich us all. They are change-makers and they make a difference because they continue to step up and serve. I have known thousands of volunteers; I’ve worked beside them and watched as they lend a hand, step into leadership and extend themselves to others, never asking for anything in return.
We all start the day with the same amount of time: 60 minutes in an hour, seven days in a week and 52 weeks in a year. It is how we decide to use that time that makes the difference. The time volunteers commit is vital and valuable.
Harvey MacKay said, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”
I’m thankful for the time our Farm Bureau volunteers have invested and continue to share with us. My thanks to each of you for all you do and will continue to do! You are the boots on the ground that allow Farm Bureau to make a difference in your community, at the county fairs, in your church, school, or in governance at the local level and in countless other nonprofits. Your commitment, dedication, influence and passion make this world revolve.
When I count my many blessings, my heart fills with gratitude for these grassroots volunteers. I can’t imagine my Farm Bureau without you, so thanks again and again.
Robin E. Kinney is director of membership and marketing for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. This article was previously published by MFBF and is reprinted with permission.