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Volunteering with Friends of the Smokies: An AmeriCorps Service Member’s Perspective

January 18, 2013

  • Mountain Heritage Day 2013 volunteers

As we begin 2013 here at Friends of the Smokies our AmeriCorps Outreach Associate in the North Carolina office, Keith Hoffman, offers the following reflection on his experience with Friends of the Smokies’ volunteers and volunteerism.

Keith Hoffman’s reflection on volunteers and volunteerism

Hard to believe I’ve been serving with Friends of the Smokies for over four months now. My very first week here I was tasked with organizing volunteers to table at our Friends Day with Mast General Store here in Waynesville. I was able to recruit and work with three wonderful volunteers for that day all of whom welcomed me to the organization and spoke highly of my wonderful AmeriCorps predecessor Hannah Epperson.

Friends tabling at Friends Day hosted by Mast General Store in Waynesville

Friends tabling at Friends Day hosted by Mast General Store in Waynesville

Volunteers are vital part of many non-profit organizations. They help keep our offices running and organized among many other tasks.

Volunteers come from all walks of life, from college students to retirees, all of whom want to keep active and give back to their community. Those that come in regularly become a part of our lives and we share in each other’s life experiences. This provides valuable support and insights that help us further the fulfillment of our mission.

Collecting tickets for our 2012 Fall for the Smokies event featuring Story Teller Donald Davis

Collecting tickets for our 2012 Fall for the Smokies event featuring Story Teller Donald Davis

Volunteers with Friends of the Smokies volunteer with us because they love Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are invested and want to be a part of the continued success of Friends of the Smokies’ mission to preserve, protect, and provide for the Park.

Sometimes they are also people who want to gain experience and learn valuable skills related to working with a National Park or a non-profit. Other times a volunteer brings valuable skills and connections to the organization.

Volunteering is often a two way street in that not only do you give of your time and talents but you get to meet new people and learn new things. As Billy Nye the Science Guy recently said, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

Friends of the Smokies is able to support Great Smoky Mountains National Park through the fundraising efforts of the Friends’ staff and the volunteers who make it so that Friends’ staff can do more even more. Our pool of volunteers is dedicated to the Park and our organization and is constantly increasing. I personally would like to thank the following volunteers who I have had the pleasure of working with over the past few months:

North Carolina Volunteers since September 10, 2012
Danny Bernstein
Esther Blakely
Joan Boyle
Ellie Burbank (in the Tennessee office)
Anne Clayton
Andi Farrell
Carol Kashmer
Pat Koonts
Mary Alice Lamb
Pat Maier
Deborah and Michael Orobello
Bob Peebles
Larry and Myrna Roberts
Laura Soltis
Larry Stewart
Louis Todd
Jolene Tomaro
Vickey Watson
Judy and Steve Winchester

Thank you all!

Finally as it is a new year, the North Carolina office will be having two volunteer planning sessions January 25, 10-11 pm, and 28, 5-6 pm, at the NC office of Friends of the Smokies.

Join current, former, and prospective volunteers over coffee and conversations about what’s happening with Friends of the Smokies and how volunteers can help. For more information and to RSVP visit www.friendsofthesmokies.org/events or contact Keith Hoffman at outreach.nc@friendsofthesmokies.org and 828-452-0720

Friends tabling at Mountain Heritage Day on the campus of Western Carolina University

Friends tabling at Mountain Heritage Day on the campus of Western Carolina University

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