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April Blog: Volunteerism

April is National Volunteer Month! A month to recognize community volunteers and inspire more people to join them in selflessly serving our community.

Volunteerism can look like a warm, friendly face at reception, a fun mentor for a student of any age, a piano player in the lobby, a person with a green thumb, a fundraiser to help support staff needs for the mission of the nonprofit… I could go on and on, but you get the idea. There are hundreds of ways to volunteer!

Each year, United Way hosts the Spirit of Sheboygan County Volunteer Awards in April, and a group of volunteers review all of the nominations. These committee members get a front row view of how people are making a difference in our community through dedicating their time and talents.

There is one type of volunteer that seems to always get nominated and they are what we call ongoing volunteers. These are volunteers that dedicate their time to a nonprofit organization, not just for one project, but on a yearly, monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.

Al Harmeling is a great example of this. Al became connected to the Sheboygan County Food Bank through work, donating at least 2 days a week to volunteer. After retiring he only increased his volunteer hours, especially to help during the increased needs at the Food Bank in 2020.

“I have to be up on my feet doing something, so I really enjoy volunteering. I’ve been blessed with a lot growing up. I always had a good job and enough food on the table, so after retiring I had more time and ability to give something back from when I received.” – Al Harmeling, 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner

Like Al, many ongoing volunteers believe in this Pay It Forward motto and feel that they get more out of their time volunteering than they feel they put in. Eileen Simenz, owner of Salon Sase, shares what she gets out of volunteering:

“There is joy in volunteering. I believe I get back one-hundred-fold what I put into any volunteer opportunity. My favorite is helping with fundraisers; I get to spend time with my friends and raise money for an organization that is really, really important to me.” – Eileen Simenz, 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Whether you help support a yearly- fundraiser or donate your time weekly – you mean more than you might know to a nonprofit organization. The estimated national value of a volunteer hour is $28.54. This average is based on the average earnings of private-sector workers and represents the cost to the organization of hiring paid workers to provide services.  

So this month, I ask you to consider trying out an ongoing volunteer opportunity! Think about something you have always wanted to try and make time for the new adventures waiting for you at a nonprofit!

~Katelyn Piper, Director of Community Development

Where to Start?

  • Check out the Volunteer Center’s website for the most recent volunteer opportunities in Sheboygan County:
  • Ask your co-workers, family, and friends where they volunteer! Join them for a volunteer opportunity and learn from them why they give back.
  • Grab a team at your workplace and save the date to volunteer on this year’s community Day of Caring on 22! Watch this summer for a listing of all projects that day on the Volunteer Center’s website (

Click here for local volunteer opportunities.

Click here for more information about the Spirit Awards Event.