Volunteering in Greater St. Cloud

The Value of Volunteering

Like most people, you probably have a lot on your plate – whether it be as a student, a working professional or a jobseeker. Maintaining a work-life balance is tough; so much so that you may not have even considered taking on an additional activity like volunteering. In fact, you may have almost skipped over this page, thinking, “In what universe do I have time to volunteer?!”   

Here’s a better question: when was the last time you really felt you made a difference? Although life can be busy – with academics, the workplace or job hunting – volunteering is time well spent. Volunteering can be a tremendous resource and investment for your future. 

By far, volunteering is one of the most beneficial activities out there. By volunteering, you’ll gain experience, acquire new skills, meet new people and give back to the community at large. Although often overlooked, volunteering is a great networking opportunity! It can help you expand your contacts, build career options and, most importantly, gain a sense of accomplishment.

To keep up to date on local St. Cloud Area volunteer opportunities, visit unitedwayhelps.org


Local Volunteering Opportunities:


My name is Mandi Schneider and my success came from volunteering! I graduated from my undergraduate program in Wisconsin in 2009, I had a teaching license in Secondary Language Arts and Literature Education. For most people, this would have been the start of extensive job searching and a career. However, because of an extremely unpleasant student teaching experience, I had lost my passion for teaching. I worked odd jobs and in February 2010, I moved to St. Cloud. I worked in a restaurant and then decided to further my education, so I applied for the MA in Rhetoric and Applied Writing Program at SCSU. Around the same time I received my first Community Education flyer in the mail and an insert for "Volunteers Needed" caught my eye. I contacted ISD 742 ABE the next day and filled out paperwork to become a volunteer with the Adult ESL classes in St. Cloud. The men and women that I taught had (have) so much drive and passion for learning, that my love for teaching was quickly restored. I volunteered 2 nights, at least, every week. Sometimes I taught alone and other nights I co-taught. I started to form friendships and learn so much about the Somali refugees. I loved what I was doing so much that I switched degree programs and began working for an MA in TESOL. I continued volunteering, recruited fellow MA students to join me as volunteers and in my last semester I interviewed with ABE and was offered a position as Accountability Assistant. Through this position, I continued to work at the site I started at as a volunteer. I helped with curriculum planning, lesson planning, scheduling, testing, attendance, data analysis, volunteer management/recruitment and continued to teach classes. I then chose to get my K-12 ESL license and student taught in the St. Cloud School District. I had connections with many of the parents of the students I was working with and started to learn some basic Somali. I was hired as a full-time ESL teacher by the district in 2014, working at the Elementary level. Every summer, I return to ABE and will occasionally visit and volunteer at the site where this all began. I am so thankful that I decided to flip through that Community Ed brochure 6 years ago!

Mandi Schneider, EL Teacher, Madison Elementary

Click here to read more about the benefits of volunteerism with a presentation from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota.