Monday, August 24, 2020



What draws us to volunteer in our community?  One of the more well-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. When we are generous of spirit and give back to our community, something wonderful happens, we become connected in ways that we never imagined.  Sometimes it happens naturally or in some cases, by accident, but once you make the commitment, the rewards far outweigh the hours of hard work.  For me, I was just a curious resident 16 years ago when I learned that the City of Rancho Cucamonga was in the beginning stages of planning to convert the abandoned Pacific Electric Red Car Railway into a multi-use bike and pedestrian trail. We attended the first community meeting and jumped in with both feet to form the Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail, a non-profit volunteer organization. Managing a non-profit volunteer organization for 15 years has opened my eyes to the benefits of collaboration, commitment, and cooperation.  When I shared the good news with my Father, he was so proud of me and I’ll never forget his guiding words:  “Sis, it’s passionate people like you who roll up their sleeves and see what needs to be done and find a way to build a volunteer team that will change your community, it doesn’t come from top down, the good work comes from the grassroots level and goes up.” The valuable lesson that I have learned is that you are only as good as your volunteer team.  Volunteers are our heartbeat and without them we could never dare to dream big. Volunteers share our vision and participate in the big picture and contribute towards every milestone.


 When the networking partnerships support your mission and interpersonal friendships develop, your community grows organically.  Volunteering is one way to make a difference in the world. The main things people hope to experience when they volunteer are cultural immersion, a feeling that they are giving back to a community, the feeling of being part of a team, and finally for educational reasons. Our schools require a certain number of volunteer hours for graduating students, this then is a living civics class.  Volunteers give without expecting anything in return, yet they are rewarded in personal growth and development. Approximately 25% of U.S. citizens volunteer and half of those who become volunteers do so because someone asked them; about half begin volunteering on their own initiative. Individual volunteers annually serve up to 40 hours in their volunteer position on average. Volunteers appreciate periodic, proportional, and modest recognition for their work. According to the Corporation for National Community Service, 25.3 percent of Americans volunteer, which is 62.8 million volunteers.


Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Even helping with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. Volunteering is a two-way street: It can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests. Volunteering provides many benefits to both mental and physical health. I have volunteered on the Healthy RC initiative since 2008 as part of the Steering Committee and was delighted to see that The National Civic League presented the City of Rancho Cucamonga as one of the 10 All-American City award winners on August 20, 2020.  This honor recognizes Rancho Cucamonga's work in inclusive civic engagement to address health and well-being and create stronger connections among residents, businesses, and nonprofit and government leaders.

Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. The social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well-being. According to, nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person.  Volunteering combats depression and keeps you in frequent contact with others by helping you develop a solid support system, which in turn protects you against depression.  Volunteering makes you happy. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others.  Remember when we were taught to be good neighbors and do an unselfish deed such as take in your neighbors trash cans without being asked, bring over a meal for a neighbor who is ill or rake the leaves for a neighbor who is elderly? The more we give, the happier we feel.  Volunteering increases self-confidence when we are doing good for others and our community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment.



Volunteering provides a sense of purpose, especially for older adults, who have retired or lost a spouse, many can find new meaning and direction in their lives by helping others. Whatever your age or life situation, volunteering can help take your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and add more meaning to your life. Volunteering helps you stay physically healthy. Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Whether due to a disability, a lack of transportation, or time constraints, many people choose to volunteer their time via phone or computer. In today’s digital age, many organizations need help with writing, graphic design, email, and other web-based tasks. If you are considering a new career, volunteering can help you get experience in your area of interest and meet people in the field. Even if you are not planning on changing careers, volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice important skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving, project planning, task management, and organization.


Volunteering is a fun and easy way to explore your interests and passions. Doing volunteer work you find meaningful and interesting and can be relaxing, energizing escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or family commitments. Volunteering also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life. Many people volunteer to make time for hobbies outside of work as well. For instance, if you have a desk job and long to spend time outdoors, you might consider volunteering to help plant a community garden, walk dogs for an animal shelter, or help out at a children’s camp. You will have a richer and more enjoyable volunteering experience if you first take some time to identify your goals and interests. Think about why you want to volunteer and go after it. What would you enjoy doing? The opportunities that match both your goals and your interests are most likely to be fun and fulfilling.  Please comment below.


Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail

-Victoria Jones Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail

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