Volunteering brings health, happiness and greater sense of community


The title of Kelly Pohl’s recent Bozeman Daily Chronicle guest column pulled me in: “Taking part in shaping community’s future.”

I love the questions she posed, “Can we grow while maintaining our quality of life” that we have come to expect in Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley? “Can we grow and maintain the same expectations for public safety, access to nature, excellent schools, and a tremendous sense of community?” And I applaud her calls to action: “…Voice your opinion. Support the organizations that support your community. Vote. Volunteer…” 

Volunteering is in my blood

My volunteer history dates back to being a junior member of the Ironbound Ambulance Squad in Newark, NJ. I was a trained EMT and responded to emergency calls one night a week while in high school.

In my twenties I was a two-time Student Conservation Association volunteer (now known as Americorps). I educated the public on the environmental and cultural wonders of two very different but both incredibly wonder-filled places: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Grand Canyon National Park.

While in MSU grad school here in Bozeman, I volunteered as a cashier at the Community Food Co-op – when it was a quarter of its current size.

Then, I realized my dream of being a Peace Corps volunteer. I was based in Northeast Thailand and my main job was to train teachers in experiential learning techniques. In my spare time, I edited scientific research articles on hornbills.

When I returned to Bozeman, I landed a couple positions as volunteer coordinator – I had lots of experience on the other side!

For several years, I volunteered my birding skills to Sacajawea Audubon, my skiing skills to Eagle Mount and my “being there” skills to Hospice of Southwest Montana.

The desire to volunteer my time, presence and skills is as strong as ever.

Currently, I maintain partnerships with Cancer Support Community Montana and Eagle Mount. The difference is now I am self-employed as a part-time Licensed Acupuncturist and the mother of a two year old. For volunteering to logistically work for me, I make it an integral part of my work schedule and professional practice model.

My role goes beyond diagnosis and treatment

I see my position in the community as one that promotes each individual’s own potential to cultivate new growth and abundance. New growth could mean physical healing, emotional balance, or clarity of thought. Abundance can be robust energy, fertility, gratitude from being pain-free – or something completely different. This core belief drives every interaction with my clients and community. 

Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others

Research has shown that volunteering helps you live longer and be happier.2 As with anything, moderation and balance is the key. And, most importantly, for volunteering to be rewarding and enriching versus energy zapping and stressful, you absolutely need to take care of your self first (hence the oxygen mask reference).

What’s in it for you?

At your next appointment, tell me how you’ve volunteered in the past month and receive a $10 discount (once per year) – just one way I take part in shaping my community’s future and encouraging the health and happiness of my clients.

community hands

1 Pohl, K. Guest Column: Take part in shaping community’s future. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Mar 19, 2016.

2 Szalavitz, M. Helping others helps you to live longer. Time. Aug 23, 2013.