By: Shelley Nelson, Leadership Bend Class of 2016
Leadership Bend spent the day learning about the structure and impact of nonprofit businesses, specifically those that serve the many needs of Central Oregonians.
With several hundred nonprofits in the area, one might believe there are too many. However, we learned that these organizations serve specific needs that are not currently being met by local government or private businesses. According to Oregon Community Foundation, “nonprofits create many public benefits such as opportunities to participate in civic affairs, enrich cultural life, provide needed services, generate significant economic impact, address inequities and create innovative solutions to community issues.”
As an employee of NeighborImpact, one of the largest nonprofits in the region, I see the need every day to help local residents. Whether it’s providing food, shelter, resources or education, the nonprofits in Central Oregon work strategically to help infants, children, animals, the environment, seniors, low-income families, immigrants….and the list goes on and on.
The profound takeaway from the January session was, “What is my passion?” and “How can I use my experience or skills to get involved?” Because nonprofits rely on a variety of funding and volunteers, resources are often scarce. If it’s sitting on a board for a nonprofit with a mission that resonates with you, or simply volunteering an hour or two of time, any support helps nonprofits succeed in serving the needs of our community.
Now is the time for action. According to the Oregon Community Foundation, “Oregonians give more of their income than the United States as a whole.” Bend is generally known as a “giving” community. If you have the time to spend a few hours a month volunteering, find a nonprofit that meets your “passion” and give your time. Serving those in need can be the most rewarding experience you will have.