Depending on the person, volunteering can mean a number of different things and take a variety of forms, manners and projects. For Vicky Tribon of Harmony, volunteering means serving.
As a child, Tribon's parents instilled in her family values and the desire to make a difference in people's lives. So when she began her own family and passing on what she had learned from her parents, naturally volunteering was part of that.
"When you are busy raising kids, you are trying to help out with the organizations they are involved with. It's more like a civic duty," she stated. "But the most important thing to do in life is to try to make a difference in the lives of others. Volunteering is an opportunity to give back to the community."
As a parent, one of the most difficult things to do for Tribon was finding the time to work and support the community even though she had the energy and desire. But as her children grew older, they began participating in mission trips to the Red River Valley and Mexico together.
In the early 1980s, Tribon's volunteering career led her to serve on the Harmony Hospital Board. Because of her time on the hospital board, she got involved as the American Cancer Daffodil Days chair for more than 20 years.
"Volunteering provides an opportunity to get involved and to pay it forward. Seems like one volunteering activity frequently leads to another, which is good," she related.
A couple of years later Tribon began work in the Harmony trail development, an involvement that eventually brought the Harmony-Preston Valley Trail into existence.
"If you volunteer in a community and see a result, you are lucky," Tribon commented. "The people involved in the community have been outstanding. The fun part is getting to know people with the same commitment as you and see lasting results."
The bike trail is certainly a tremendous goal attained, and even now volunteers are looking into installing extensions of the trail. This and other opportunities presented by organizations such as the Harmony Area Community Foundation are all meant to serve the community and make it a better place for the upcoming generations to live.
For Tribon, focusing on the youth of the community is a major necessity since they are the future. Leaving a good legacy of community involvement and servitude is key.
"We are truly blessed with all we have — family, friends and a great community to live in — and I feel it is our responsibility to strive to make a difference in others' lives. I want to make Harmony the best it can be for now and into the future," she expressed.
There is, however, another spectrum to be taken into consideration for creating an even better community. Looking after the elderly.
"You have to take care of people at the beginning and end of life. It's part of society's responsibility to both generations," Tribon declared.
Now that she is retired, Tribon has a little bit more time available to her than when she was raising a family and working as an accountant. Some of that extra time is dedicated toward volunteering for Heartland Hospice.
"The real reason I started (at Heartland Hospice) was because my father was in hospice. He told me if I had the opportunity to work for it, do it. I heard again in church they were looking for volunteers at the hospice," she explained.
So she thought she had better take her father's advice. Heartland Hospice is meant to provide comfort and support for families with members who are terminally ill, according to Tribon.
"It's basically showing compassion to those who are going through a difficult time in life," she said.
After going through a couple of training sessions in Rochester for the hospice organization, several people in the area were assigned for her to visit. The area did not have to be large. In fact, volunteers are able to set their own boundaries for where they would be willing to travel to visit with their people.
At a given time, Tribon oversees four or five patients. Most of what she does is simply visit with them, read books to them or help them eat. When one patient dies, another is assigned to her.
"I'm fortunate to be a part of their lives. This is an opportunity to get to know them and their lives," she related. "I have a book, 'The Land Remembers' by Ben Logan, of daily farm life in the 1920s and 30s which is when many of them were born and lived through. It brings memories up from their past and they share their stories. I feel blessed to share part of their life story."
This work for her isn't work, Tribon said. It's an opportunity to serve others and help the patients and their families through one of the saddest times of their lives.
Joy and sadness are mixed together in the visits, she added, but it can be incredibly therapeutic to both to sit and chat, sharing memories and getting to know one another.
Most of Tribon’s patients are in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, but a few remain in their homes.
The time commitment is minimal. For those in nursing homes, Tribon takes time to visit for at least a half an hour, three times a month. For others, doctors may prescribe only two visits per month, but it could be a few more times if they are open to them.
"It depends on what you are doing. You can talk a lot if you find an interest. But when you take the time to talk, the minimum is 30 minutes and the max is about an hour," Tribon related.
Volunteering to help both age groups does hold a tremendous impact in people's lives, even if the volunteers themselves do not recognize it at the time. For the young, it ensures a better quality of life and a model to follow and pass on to the later generations. On the other hand, for the elderly, it provides comfort and joy during a trying time for themselves and the rest of their families.
"I have been fortunate to be a part of both volunteer projects,” Tribon concluded. “It takes a group of people to make things happen, and you receive more than you give."