Ask Eartha: Volunteering as a means of environmental contribution
This summer, I want to make a contribution to an environmental organization, but I find it hard to come up with extra money to contribute financially. Is there another way that I can support organizations that I believe in without writing a big check?
Thank you so much for wanting to support organizations that truly make a difference in the High Country. The Steward household knows how hard it can be, financially, here in Summit County, with the cost of housing is continually rising. But, have no fear, there are ways that you can contribute to community organizations without hurting your wallet. Summer is a big time for nonprofit organizations of all kinds as many are recipients of benefits and events throughout the season in exchange for providing volunteers. One of the best examples is the Colorado BBQ Challenge taking place in Frisco, June 15-17, which benefits numerous Summit County nonprofits and takes hundreds of volunteers to make it a success.
Volunteering can come in many forms. At the BBQ Challenge, volunteers help reduce and divert event waste, provide information to visitors, serve food and drinks, run ice to vendors, and many other tasks. In 2016, the Frisco BBQ diverted 75 percent of waste generated at the event! With nearly 30,000 people in attendance, that was a huge achievement that couldn’t have been done without the help of volunteers like you!
When you volunteer, you not only help organizations, our community and the environment, but also you achieve health benefits. A study from the Corporation for National and Community Service found that volunteering within your community can lead to lower mortality rates, lower depression rates and a greater functional ability later in life. So, volunteering can mean a healthier more sustainable community and a healthier you.
Volunteering does not have to be a boring endeavor either. Many volunteer opportunities occur during special events in the county which include beer festivals, bike and running races, and other action-packed events. When nonprofit organizations are contracted to help with volunteer coordination for special events, it usually means a contribution to that organization. So, by volunteering at a festival that you would otherwise attend as a patron, you are actually contributing financially to the organization that is coordinating volunteers. Your time equals money to these organizations and is extremely valuable to them.
Additional volunteer opportunities occurring this summer and throughout the year, include the Breckenridge 100 Bike Race, Keystone Bluegrass and Beer festival, Colorado Classic Bike Race, and others. More information about these opportunities are available under the events tab at HighCountryConservation.org.
Secondly, attend an event that a nonprofit is throwing or benefitting from, even if you’re not volunteering. For instance, Concert in the Park at the Frisco Historic Park and Museum happens every Thursday afternoon for much of the summer, and for each free concert, the beer, wine and soda sales benefit a different community organizations each week. So, by simply buying a beer (or two or three) you will be supporting an organization that can put those contributions to good use. Other examples of nonprofit fundraising events include galas, plated dinners and silent auctions. Simply buying a ticket or bidding on an item at a silent auction can translate to dollars for the organization.
Stewart, I truly appreciate your willingness to contribute to an environmental organization in Summit County. While it may be difficult to dole out a large sum of money once or twice a year, attending one of these fundraisers or volunteer events can often be much easier to stomach. Remember that whatever you can spare will always help, even if it is your time (which I understand can be priceless). Thanks to all of those who continually help out the nonprofit organizations in Summit County, and by your continued support, these organizations help to make our community a happier and healthier place to live and don’t forget to start June 15-17 at Frisco BBQ.
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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