When I first began working for the Morris Downtown Development Partnership in 2007, the number of volunteers who gave their time to see that our events came to fruition blew me away!
Although many of these volunteers still are involved with our events and activities, schedules and situations change, leaving us with the ongoing need to find new volunteers and committee members as we work to enhance our events and programs. As a benefit, these new volunteers bring fresh ideas and activities. One of my goals for the next year is to add volunteers to our already-great committees, and find additional individuals to volunteer during the events.
There are many benefits to volunteering! From a professional standpoint, volunteering provides the opportunity to grow your network, make useful contacts, improve your résumé, test out career options, learn new skills, learn about your community and make a difference. On a personal level, volunteering provides a sense of purpose and belonging, the opportunity to be a positive influence, meet new people, face new challenges and have fun! Volunteering can be done individually, or with a club, friends, a company or an organization.
Our next event is Home For The Holidays, scheduled for Nov. 29 through Dec. 1. Our committee members work diligently to bring activities for the community to enjoy such as Lantern Making, the Lighted Holiday Parade, Breakfast with Santa and the Children’s Winter Carnival. Although I offer assistance, a volunteer coordinates each of these activities. The House Walk Committee also works diligently to obtain houses and coordinate all aspects of this event. We also have several organizations that volunteer by bringing their events to Home For The Holidays, such as the Grundy County Historical Society and Museum’s Festival of Trees, First Baptist Church’s hot apple cider, the Morris Library’s Breakfast with Santa, performances by the Coal City High School Madrigals and Streator Onized Credit Union’s Christmas Cash Cab. Additionally, Bethlehem Lutheran Church will host this year’s Complimentary Tea.
However, not all volunteers coordinate an event. Other volunteers assist with obtaining sponsors, supplies and donations, handle administrative duties and marketing, or volunteer during the event.
Plans already are underway for the Liberty 5K Run/Walk on July 3, 2020! We are welcoming new committee members to assist with marketing the run, recruiting runners and obtaining sponsors, supplies and donations. Additionally, volunteers handle administrative duties and provide input and ideas to enhance the event. We also have been fortunate to have the assistance of several volunteer groups at this event. For example, Crossbridge Community Church provided water and the finish line, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter- Day Saints and the Grundy County Emergency Management Agency assisted as street marshals, Peace Chapel set up a water station, and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 95 brought a fly-over. An American Legion Rider led the race, while the auxiliary brought activities for the kids, Homes Cool Kids stuffed race bags, the local Marines ran and called cadence, the Morris Color Guard presented the colors and the Morris High School Student Council provided a large group of volunteers who assisted throughout the event. Additionally, many individuals assisted on race day with tasks such as race registration, set up and tear down.
The success of the Liberty Arts Festival also is due in large part to the contributions from our volunteer committee. Volunteers help recruit artists, crafters and performers, obtain sponsors, supplies and other donations, coordinate an event or volunteer during the event. We are pleased to have many local organizations bring activities, as well. Seventeen different organizations coordinated children’s activities at the Creators Village, the Morris Watercolor Guild coordinated a Plein-Air Class and Painting, the Grundy County Historical Society and Museum displayed local art, the Morris Area Public Library coordinated a Storybook Character Parade, and Small Town Theatrics, Morris Poms, Donna Mueller’s School of Dance, Forte Arts Center and individual artists and musicians performed during the event.
Are you or your organization interested in getting involved by joining a committee, bringing a new activity or volunteering during an event?
If you might be interested, contact me at 815-941-0245 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
• Julie Applegate is the executive director of the Morris Downtown Development Partnership.