September 30, 2011
By Becky Malkovich
MOUNT VERNON - Volunteers and those who organize them got a verbal pat on the back from Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon at the Southern Illinois Volunteerism Conference in Mount Vernon on Thursday.
Whether helping fill sandbags to protect a neighbor's home from floodwaters or taking part in more organized efforts, volunteers provide services when and where they are needed, usually without any recognition, she said during a short speech at the conference.
"Sometimes we don't value volunteerism as much as we should," Simon said. "Volunteers are the glue that keeps our community together. They are what make Southern Illinois the place we love to live."
Simon was one of several guest speakers on the agenda of the 14th annual conference that drew more than 100 volunteer managers, volunteers and heads of non-profit organizations that rely on volunteers, conference chairwoman Angela Schrum said.
The one-day conference gave attendees the opportunity to learn how to do their jobs more efficiently, recruit, utilize and maintain volunteers and network, Schrum said.
Simon's words of encouragement were appreciated, she said.
"Lt. Gov. Simon knows the hearts of the people in this room," Schrum said. "You can tell she is one of us."
Ed Davis of Marion attended the conference. Davis volunteers at Shawnee Alliance for Seniors and said he hoped to get information that could help him with his volunteer efforts.
"I came to the conference to learn how to deal with some of the issues and problems I encounter when I go into certain households or deal with certain attitudes," Davis said.
Attendees also learned about other volunteer opportunities available in the region.
"Everyone is equipped to volunteer in some way because the opportunities to volunteer are endless," she said. "I don't know any group that would not welcome more volunteers. Any entity in this area could use help."
Serve Illinois, an agency that promotes volunteer and community service, is a good starting point for those interested in getting involved in volunteerism, Schrum said.