Every day, millions of Americans face health problems that reduce their quality of life. Nearly half of U.S. adults don’t get needed preventive health services, too many of our nation’s children and youth have unhealthy eating habits and don’t get enough exercise, and many of those over 65 need physical assistance to live independently in their homes during their golden years. National service and community volunteer programs provide much-needed services to underserved areas to help our citizens improve their health.
Recently, Governor Gary Herbert signed a declaration making 2014 a year of service to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of UServe Utah and to challenge citizens to serve their communities. Throughout this year of service we will focus on several major areas of volunteerism and National Service with the goal of inspiring more citizens to volunteer. For our Healthy Futures focus area we have highlighted the great work being done by Utah volunteers and outlined ways you can get involved:
Volunteer. Make Utah’s Future a Healthy One
- Find a volunteer opportunity near you online.
- Challenge your family and friends to volunteer with our “You Got Served! Pay it Forward!” campaign.
- Brainstorm with family and friends about community needs and design your own volunteer project. Check out these great toolkits to get you started.
- As part of our 20th Anniversary focus on Healthy Futures we talked with local community organizations working to create a healthy Utah. Here’s just a sampling of organizations who are improving the health of Utahns to get you thinking of ways you can get involved:
Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services is recruiting volunteers who are interested in teaching classes related to diabetes, healthy eating, and exercise all of which will help older adults improve their health. If you’re not near Salt Lake County visit the aging and adult service organization near you to volunteer.
Weber Human Service in Ogden is recruiting Senior Corps Volunteers who help clients stay healthy and physically active. Senior Corps volunteers must be 55 or older. If you don’t fit that demographic consider visiting your local senior center for other volunteer opportunities.
Utah State University Extension is looking for volunteers to teach healthy eating on a budget through their Food $ense Program , help staff farmers markets, and work at health fair booths. To find out more about USU Extension visit your local office online .
The Maliheh Free Clinic is looking for general office volunteers as well as volunteers who are Licensed Medical Providers, Nurses, Patient Technicians and Spanish interpreters to help meet their mission to provide free medical services for uninsured individuals and low income families. There are free clinics across the state if you have the types of valuable skills they need consider donating your time.
Meals on Wheels is looking for teams of people to deliver home-bound seniors nutritious meals. If your organization, family, or church group is interested in volunteering together this is a great way to get involved. In addition to programs like Meals on Wheels consider volunteering in your local soup kitchen or bringing a home cooked meal to a neighbor in need.
The Utah Health Corps is recruiting AmeriCorps members to help increase access to primary health care services for Utahns by reducing economic, geographic, cultural, and language barriers.
Utah Campus Compact is also recruiting AmeriCorps members to secure a healthy future for Utah. Find out more about serving in AmeriCorps here .
Volunteer at your child’s school. If you’re in the Provo school district Jenilee McComb, Director of Child Nutrition Programs, is looking for volunteers to teach healthy eating, innovative exercise programs and work in the lunch room. If you’re not in Provo you can find a state wide list of Child Nutrition Programs here. Contact your local district to find out how you can help create a healthy future of Utah kids.
Volunteers Creating a Healthy Future for Utah
Volunteers across Utah are making an impact on the healthy future of our state every day:
- AmeriCorps members at the Association for Utah Community Health provided one-on-one healthy lifestyles education to 5,939 people and have enrolled 2,675 individuals in health insurance and benefit programs.
- At the Provo School District Jenilee McComb, Director of Child Nutrition Programs sources food locally whenever possible for school lunches and offers innovative programs to get kids excited about exercise. The school also hosts a healthy eating fair each year where local vendors, such as farms, donate their time to let kids sample nutritious foods.
- In twelve months Salt Lake County Meals on Wheels volunteers delivered 107,261 nutritious meals to home-bound seniors.
- At the Utah State University Extension volunteers have taught 8,100 hours of nutrition education through their Food $ense Program.
- The Maliheh Free Clinic has provided healthcare to 5,000 low income uninsured people.
- At Weber Human Services in Ogden Senior Corps volunteers participate in monthly in-service meetings on healthy living topics, such as, nutrition, fall prevention, and heart health.
UServe Utah Staff Volunteer Day
Recently Commission staff participated in a service project at Real Food Rising (RFR) to celebrate our current focus on Healthy Futures as well as Global Youth Service Day. Staff members joined community members, elementary and high school students in work on their urban farm. They v olunteered to prepare a community garden for spring planting and had a great time!
RFR is a community farming program where youth volunteer to tend gardens and work on various other projects to increase access to healthy food in Salt Lake City. In 2014, RFR will donate at least 8,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to food pantries and soup kitchens. If you would like to get involved at RFR you can learn more about volunteer opportunities online.