“We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity.” –Dr. Martin Luther King
With an agency of over 150 employees that serves approximately 200 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, you would think that we would not have time to give something back to our communities where we live, work and play; nothing could be further from the truth. When I recently looked back over the past few years, I was surprised by the number of volunteering opportunities Tri-Valley has participated in throughout the four counties we serve.
Volunteerism has a long history in the United States, beginning with the Revolutionary War when the colonial army was made up almost entirely of volunteers. In 1813 the Ladies Benevolent Society organized the first volunteer nursing service for the sick and poor. In 1971, the Nixon administration started ACTION, a major peacetime effort volunteer force including the Peace Corps, VISTA, Foster Grandparent Program, RSVP, the Service Corps of Retired Executives and Action Core of Executives (ACE).
We are proud of the communities we live in and we feel that it is important to give something back. We don’t want to be known as an organization that is only known for taking.
We feel that volunteerism is a meaningful component of a healthy organization and community. For example, clients and employees have volunteered for Operation Soupline in Chanute and the Beacon in Ft. Scott. Clients in Ft. Scott have deliver Meals on Wheels to area residents for over ten years now. Our horticultural program assists with the flower baskets downtown and they also help with cleaning up the downtown area, the old fort and the national cemetery on occasion. In Iola, we volunteer to clean up River Bridge Park and the City Park in Gas.
Tri-Valley employees have been active in the area Chambers of Commerce, including hosting and participating in Chamber events, committees, and boards. Employees have served on several area non-profit boards of directors; including Chanute Regional Development Authority, SEKR’s, ELK’s, KETCH, The Osa and Martin Johnson Safari Museum, Main Street Chanute, CRSS and the Bourbon County United Way.
We also have employees who participate in church ministries, autism awareness, volunteer for the local school systems, and many others. One of our group volunteer opportunities is with the Chanute Mobile Food Pantry. Every quarter, several Tri-Valley employees help distribute food from the Kansas Foodbank to over 400 people from Allen, Labette, Neosho, Wilson, and Woodson counties. We have been part of this ministry since its inception and it is easy to find volunteers for this important work. The people we serve and our employees also visit local nursing homes to talk to the residents and during the Christmas season, go caroling. We may not be the Vienna Boys Choir, but we try to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Tri-Valley provides hundreds of volunteer hours a year throughout southeast Kansas. Our clients and employees are proud of what we do. For our clients there are added benefits as well. They include self satisfaction, potential learning or acquisition of new skills, new ways for relaxation, increased socialization and participation in community improvements.