Healthy Concepts

Cryotherapy of Wisconsin has been open in Northeast Wisconsin for almost two years. In that time, they have helped thousands of people feel better by reducing or eliminating their chronic pain. Many clients feel relief in as little as two sessions, and praise the benefits of cryotherapy in helping them lead a normal, pain-free life.

Mary B., from Appleton, is one such client. In a recent interview, Mary talked about why she started coming to Cryotherapy of Wisconsin:

“I have been suffering from arthritis down my spine and was recently diagnosed with Lupus, which has caused inflammation from neck to feet. I have been on several medications, including steroids, and wanted to wean myself off of all drugs and find an alternate source of relief. I heard about Cryotherapy of Wisconsin, gave it a try, and was amazed at how quickly I started feeling relief from the pain.”

“Before I heard about cryotherapy, I hadn’t been able to go snowshoeing in years because of my pain. After I started coming here, I was not only able to go snowshoeing, but I went on a 10-mile hike and felt great afterward! I cannot say enough about how much Cryotherapy of Wisconsin has changed my life!”

Jodie L., from Appleton, had a serious fall three years ago that left her in a coma in the ICU. The accident caused slight brain trauma, which left Jodie suffering from chronic migraines that were unaffected by medication. Since participating in cryotherapy, Jodie has felt significant improvement:

“I would rate my migraines a 10 (on a scale of 1-10) and I was just miserable. Once I started coming to Cryotherapy of Wisconsin, I felt immediate relief, and I signed up for an annual membership so that I can come as often as I need to. When I come here on a regular basis, my migraines are now no more than a 3! And, as an added bonus, I’ve been getting relief in my knees and back too! I’m able to go up and down stairs without pain. I can’t say enough about Cryotherapy of Wisconsin!”

People all over Northeast Wisconsin have found the healing benefits of cryotherapy just as Mary and Jodie have. The Cryosauna uses nitrogen gas to lower your skin surface temperature by 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of two to three minutes. The skin reacts to the cold and sends neural signals to the brain that stimulate the regulatory and healing functions of the body.

It’s a very fast and efficient way to achieve the same benefits that athletes get by sitting in a tub full of ice water (without the damaging effects of ice directly on your skin). The skin’s exposure to these extreme temperatures triggers the release of anti-inflammatory molecules, which aid in healing your pain. The process also releases endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel motivated and energetic. The mood-enhancing effects from each session can last for days.

Depending on your level of pain, it is recommended you initially take 5 to 10 treatments in close succession — separated by 1-2 days — to maximize your results. Afterward, additional treatments can be spaced further apart to maintain, and improve upon, your results (e.g. once every week to two weeks).

Cryotherapy is not recommended for women who are pregnant, or people with cardiovascular diseases or epilepsy. Contact Cryotherapy of Wisconsin for a full list of symptoms that may prevent you from receiving treatment. Children under the age of 18 require a parent or guardian signature before treatment.

Cryotherapy of Wisconsin has two convenient locations to serve you: 3525 E. Calumet Street, Suite 300 in Appleton, and 940 Hansen Road, Suite D in Green Bay.

Cryotherapy of Wisconsin provides customers with the most advanced cyyosauna in the Midwest, and cryofacial equipment to target the facial muscles as well. Call us today at 920-460-7035 in Appleton or 920-366-2449 in Green Bay, or visit us online at

Mention this article to take advantage of our new client special! Five sessions for only $99, with a money back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied (some restrictions apply). Take the first step toward less pain and more energy with cryotherapy. 


When we think of Sheboygan, we think about a feeling. It feels like adventure, wholesome tradition and home. Hugging the shoreline of Lake Michigan is a quaint town with rich heritage and a welcoming community. It’s the ideal mix of Midwestern values with the essence of an East Coast town. Right in the heart of the revamped South Pier District lays the Portscape Apartments. These apartment homes embody everything this community has to offer.

The amenities make these more than apartments; they are homes. All apartments are complete with luxury finishes, private entrances and attached garages. Not to mention, the priceless river and lake views, large private patios, vaulted ceilings, spacious floor plans and yes, your furry friends are welcome too! Whether you’re a young family or empty nesters, Portscape Apartments offers the perfect setting for whatever your life entails. A variety of floor plans include one bedroom or two bedrooms, both with dens.

Living in Portscape Apartments means truly living. Our residents wake up in the morning and have their cup of coffee out on their private covered patios as they watch the boats head out into the rising lake horizon. Throughout the day the boardwalk bustles with activity along the charming shops and restaurants that line the river. Then it’s a short commute to wherever the day takes them. Several well-known local companies operate within miles from their front doors, including Kohler, Sargento Cheese, Bemis and Aquity Insurance, to mention a few. There’s no wasting time on a lengthy commute when there is so much more to be had — whether it’s shopping at the local boutiques or spending a day on Lake Michigan. It’s also just blocks from all the amenities of downtown Sheboygan and the thriving Art District, or minutes away from world-class golf courses and mellow countryside.

People flock to these shores for weekends away from the stresses at home. When living at Portscape, every day is a getaway. The peaceful pace embraces the simple things in life, like a glass of wine at the nearby cafes, afternoon bike rides and evening strolls along the lake taking in the sunset. Being nestled between the Sheboygan River and Lake Michigan means enjoying all-around good living. It holds promise of always living life to the fullest with less stress among a vibrant social community.

Portscape is a rich environment where there’s always a neighbor with a helping hand, some of the best views in the state and going to bed at night surrounded by beauty and knowing you are home. Portscape isn’t just a day at the lake, it’s a life enriched by community. 

Take a tour of the beautiful model unit located at 679 South Pier Drive in Sheboygan or contact us to learn more about the Portscape Apartments lifestyle. Call 920-547-0346 or visit our website at

When the weather is warm, our natural inclination is to go outside. Many popular summer activities can be hazardous to our ears due to high decibel levels. Prolonged exposure to the sounds of lawn mowers, power tools, motorized vehicles, sporting events, concerts and fireworks can all lead to irreversible hearing damage.

The following tips are recommended by the Better Hearing Institute to protect your ears:

  • Use earplugs. When you are going to be exposed to loud sounds, wear earplugs to prevent damage to your hearing. Custom ear protection crafted from earmolds will perfectly fit the unique contours of your ears, guaranteeing a snug, proper fit and dependable protection.
  • Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Fireworks are synonymous with the 4th of July, but they represent an extreme noise hazard and should be restricted to professionals. Earplugs will provide an extra level of hearing protection without detracting from the festivities.
  • Take measures to protect against swimmer’s ear. There’s nothing more refreshing than a cool swim on a hot day, but when water enters the ear canals it can lead to a painful infection known as swimmer’s ear. To protect against this, invest in a pair of swimmer’s plugs.
  • Limit your time in noisy environments. Take steps to limit the length of time you spend in noisy environments. When participating in noisy activities, make sure to give yourself periodic quiet breaks. 

In my last article I discussed gut health and the importance of the microbiome as it pertains to health, and the role in leaky gut or intestinal permeability. Today I would like to delve into food sensitivities as this can be a factor in pursuing improved gut health.

Food sensitivities are different than food allergies. Often times a food allergy can be much easier to uncover as the reaction to a particular food (think peanuts) is pretty quick and can be life threatening, requiring medical intervention. These patients often carry an EpiPen with them. This is an adverse reaction traditionally described as an IgE reaction, which is different than an IgA or an IgG reaction. One can think of the immune system like the armed forces, which has several branches like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines like IgE, IgM, IgA, IgG, etc.

Unlike the quick responsive IgE reaction food sensitivities tend to have a delayed reaction, which can be more difficult to figure out. Some clinicians favor an elimination diet while others, like myself, prefer to use specialty labs to look at the body’s immune response to commonly reactive foods. Depending on which lab is utilized you can have several foods tested to help uncover some culprits that can be driving a negative immune response and creating inflammation in the body. Common inflammatory foods include gluten, dairy, corn, egg and soy to name a few. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, which is triggered by ingestion of gluten. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, “Celiac disease is one of the most common lifelong disorders in both Europe and the U.S.” The American Celiac Society says, “The majority of celiac patients have visited five or more doctors prior to diagnosis… taking an average of five to 10 years, after initial presentation, for celiac disease to be diagnosed.” Approximately 87 percent of celiac patients are undiagnosed. Gluten sensitivity is much more common than celiac disease and involves a different process with the end result the same: avoidance of gluten. Some symptoms of gluten sensitivity include joint pain, muscle pain, skin rashes, fatigue, headaches including migraines, brain fog, reflux and IBS just to name a few. Often, traditional blood work will demonstrate low vitamin D and iron due to absorption issues accompanying the sensitivities.

One should question why these values are low and consider further evaluation including food sensitivity to uncover the cause. Specialty labs such as Cyrex and Vibrant Wellness in California have some of the best testing for gluten sensitivity and additional foods as well as leaky gut or intestinal permeability. Celiac markers can be tested with your family doctor. Children can also be tested for gluten through a blood panel or a finger poke. According to the Journal of Attention Disorders, “All children clinically diagnosed with ADHD or their parents report a significant improvement in their behavior and functioning after 6 months on a gluten-free diet.”

If you are looking to uncover potential food sensitivities your functional medicine practitioner can help you start your journey to feeling better. We are here to help you get started. 

I never thought in January that by June I’d be writing my third story featuring Lyme disease. I had never met anyone with that diagnosis. That’s exactly the problem. Many of those suffering from this insidious disease have never been properly diagnosed.

When those infected by Lyme and co-infections carried by the deer tick, and biting insects, are treated for other illnesses, the disease takes the opportunity to ravage many organs of the body before it is detected.

Dan Schwalenberg might be considered one of the lucky ones. He would say he’s been incredibly blessed. His diagnosis came quicker than many, and the Lyme disease specialist treating him predicts eventual 100 percent recovery.

Still, it’s been a long, dark road — literally. Unlike many sufferers, Dan’s initial symptoms were neurological. “Early in 2015 I began to experience panic attacks, depression and lack of sleep,” he said. “Heart palpitations, one of my few physical symptoms, have disappeared.”

But he lost more than a year of his life. A single father, Dan went through twelve months 90 percent disabled. He couldn’t take care of himself, much less his then-fifteen-year-old daughter, Alexis. He spent almost all of his time in the bedroom, darkened by heavy sheets across every window. His daughter lived alternately with her mother and with Dan’s parents, spending only fifteen minutes a week with her dad.

“I suffered migraines for months, and everyone had to talk in hushed tones,” Dan said. “My brain couldn’t handle my father’s deep voice and the sound of neighbors’ lawnmowers was torment.”

The fatigue was debilitating, Dan said, and he could manage to walk just from the bedroom to the kitchen and back. His life was sleeping and eating. That he was able to keep his own home is a huge blessing, he said. “Jesus carried me. How else does a person get through five months of darkness, with just a few moments of contact with the outside world?”

If Dan were the only one ever to suffer this way, he might keep quiet about it. But, even though awareness is slowly growing, he said, the medical community isn’t where it should be in diagnosing and treating Lyme. “Wisconsin is a hot spot,” he said. “The East coast is worse. And it’s spreading around the world.”

Dan’s sister, Lori, a member of the team planning a Celebration of Support benefit for him, said, “Dan is so passionate and driven to help anyone else with Lyme, to get them on the path to appropriate treatment. Even when he goes back to work, I have a feeling he’ll be doing something like that, on the side, in the future.”

Lori talked about Dan’s love for fishing, which led to the theme for his benefit: “Reeling Dan Back into the Stream of Life.” He also is an avid hunter, and his Celebration of Support, held August 11 at the Starlite Club in Kaukauna from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., will feature games focused around fishing, hunting, and other outdoor themes.

The Schwalenberg family knew Katy Zerkel, a Lyme sufferer we featured in January. When they attended her Celebration, Lori said, “We didn’t know much about Community Benefit Tree (CBT). Fortunately, we haven’t had a lot of health issues in our family, so we didn’t even know where to go or how to start doing a benefit.”

“Going to CBT was great for us,” she said. “They’re leading us, coaching us along the way about how to put on a really good, successful benefit. They’ve been so helpful to us. Because Dan is coming out of darkness, the theme color for the event will be a sunny yellow. We’re so happy that Dan is able to enjoy the sunshine again.”

Dan wants readers to know that Lyme disease should not be taken lightly. “People die from it and some are physically and mentally disabled from it,” he said. Again calling himself blessed, Dan said he hopes to be able to work part time in about a month.

Readers wishing to attend Dan’s celebration benefit to help reel him back into the stream of life can find more information at

“Everything that you’re going through is preparing you for what you asked for.” —Unknown

In early June, my 11 year old celebrated his transition ceremony to middle school. His elementary teachers called it the “Movin’ On Up!” ceremony complete with camera phone crazy extended families, the obligatory memories slideshow and, of course, lots of laughter and some tears. In a rash decision, I picked that next weekend after school let out to move the family out of town.

Most people would agree that moving, even in the best of circumstances, is a challenging experience. As recent moving veterans, our family combined two households with two adults, two kids and our cat in a three-bedroom house in the area. We made it and, generally, I still have a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart. Why?

I found a way to release all of my worries, stresses and “mental baggage” from the moving process. I discovered this tumultuous period was more than just a move but a preparation for what I asked for, a major shift in spiritual direction as I dove inward on my personal spiritual revelations to better understand my true life calling with the help of a recent book class.

I attended a “Life Visioning” book study group based on Michael Bernard Beckwith’s 2013 work of the same name. Featured on Oprah, Larry King Live and his own PBS special, Michael Bernard Beckwith is the founder of Agape International Spiritual Center. Per Deepak Chopra, Beckwith’s Life Visioning tool “eloquently unfolds the secrets of deep inquiry for spiritual development, which leads to infinite possibilities in our lives.”

Led by frequent guest speaker and psychotherapist, Bedford Hines, Life Visioning is a very effective way to turn inward and “electrify” my meditative practice to move from just imagining my life’s purpose to what Beckwith calls moving past our collective “spiritual identity crisis.” This process “provides us a cosmic mirror in which we glimpse our true nature… as you open more and more to your innate creativity, you will recognize yourself as the vibrant life-artist that you are.” His four-stage consciousness approach moves through an amazing evolutionary journey that I have found extremely helpful as I upgrade my meditation practice.

As my personal insanity of moving melted away, I discovered a profound peace in this heart-centered visioning process. One upcoming spiritual work incorporating the Life Visioning tool approach at Unity of Appleton will be a book discussion group of Marianne Williamson’s “Return To Love.” We are using this visioning tool collectively as we move forward together spiritually and physically…

Unity of Appleton is moving! After nearly eighteen years at 1800 S. Lawe Street, we are moving and holding services at First Congregational Church, 724 E. South River Street, Pathways School entrance with school/child care at 6 p.m. Sunday evenings starting Sunday, June 25. Come join us as we envision together our open, life-affirming, spiritual movement! For more details on future classes and program offerings, please check out our website: or Unity of Appleton’s Facebook page. Join us as we are Movin’ On Up! 

Extreme weather is seldom fun for anyone. Although people often have the means to escape inclement weather, animals are at the mercy of their caregivers.

Protecting animals during extreme weather is not restricted to domesticated pets. Those who have livestock on their properties must recognize that these animals will need various levels of care as well. Animals such as chickens, cattle, goats and llamas can be adversely affected by extreme weather. Individuals can heed these safety guidelines to avoid subjecting such animals to the stress, discomfort and illness that can result from exposure to extreme weather.

Suitable shelter

One of the best ways to safeguard livestock from extreme weather is to ensure they have a place to escape the elements. Animals can get sunburned and may overheat, so make sure shelters can block the sun’s rays on hot days while also allowing for air to circulate through the dwelling.

It’s also key that the shelter be capable of accommodating all of the animals at the same time.

Livestock shelters do not have to be complicated. They can be as elaborate as a barn or as simple as carports or tarps and shade cloth.

Fresh water

Access to fresh, clean water is also essential. Dehydration can set in, particularly for animals with thick coats or those that are young or elderly. Animals tend to expend a lot of energy to cool down or stay warm, so they will need an ample supply of water to remain hydrated and healthy.

Standing water can become a breeding ground for parasites and insect larvae. Therefore, change water frequently to make sure it is sanitary. Some farm experts advise aerating troughs to help prevent algae growth or mosquito infestations. A small amount of raw apple cider vinegar may help as well. However, always discuss water sanitation methods with a veterinarian before testing them out on farm animals.

Mold-free feed

Hot, humid temperatures can cause mold to grow on hay and other feed sources. Cows do not like to eat moldy hay and it can make horses ill. The University of Minnesota Extension says horses are particularly sensitive to dust from mold spores and can get a respiratory disease similar to asthma in humans called recurrent airway obstruction, or RAO, which is often referred to as heaves.

Hay needs to be dried out before it is fed to animals. Any feed should be stored in cool, dry conditions and inspected before being dispersed to livestock.

Hair cut

Wooly animals may benefit from a shear prior to the onset of hot weather, advises the Maryland Small Ruminant group. Do not shear too short. For instance, a one-inch fleece can dissipate heat and help the sheep keep cool.


Livestock should not be worked and handled during the heat of the day. Their productivity levels may be diminished, and the extra exertion may affect their health. Rest will help them stay happy and healthy until the extreme weather has subsided. 

Source: MetroCreative Connection.

If you are looking for a supplement to land-based physical or occupational therapy, dipping your toes into an aquatic therapy program might be something to consider. Aquatic therapy refers to exercises that are completed in the water and are generally designed to help improve balance, strength and mobility.

Many find this form of therapy beneficial as the buoyancy of the water makes it easier to perform movements that, for some, may be too difficult to complete on land. Water also provides the right amount of resistance so that you feel challenged without the risk of injury.

Finding the right aquatic therapy program takes a bit of research, as not all programs or facilities are alike. It’s important for you to know the facts and weigh the options so you can begin a program that will help you meet your goals. Here are a few questions to ask to get you started:

Is the staff qualified?

Be sure that staff members are certified to lead instruction in the water. Many physical and occupational therapists require additional training in order to help clients benefit from an aquatic therapy program, so don’t be shy to ask about certifications and experience.

What does the staff do?

One thing to ask is if the staff actually gets in the water with you. It may seem like an odd question to inquire about, but some aquatic therapy programs involve the client being in the water while a staff member provides instruction on land. To maximize the benefits of aquatic therapy, look for a program where the staff is right next to you in the water, working with you on each exercise.

Another factor to take into consideration is a care plan. Look for staff that takes the time to discuss your options and works with you to build a customized plan of care based on your specific needs. If they want you working in the water without taking the time for an initial consultation, you may not be happy with the results.

Is the program diverse?

No one health concern is the same, so your treatment possibilities shouldn’t be either. Look for an aquatic therapy program that offers several avenues of care in addition to aquatic physical therapy. For example, therapeutic exercise targets more general health and age related concerns like joint stiffness and core strength by focusing on range of motion, balance and endurance exercises. Specialized exercise classes tend to focus on a specific medical condition such as orthopedic issues, joint replacement and stroke recovery. Classes are often held in a group setting to promote camaraderie as well.

Another consideration is alternative aquatic therapy. This type of therapy is more one-on-one and includes a personalized exercise plan designed to help improve functional independence. Once the exercises are mastered, many clients can complete them on their own.

Other tips on what to ask:

  • Is there a program your doctor would recommend?
  • Are there program reviews or client testimonials you can read?
  • Does the facility provide a clean and safe environment?

Aquatic therapy can be a beneficial supplement to current therapy and help maintain your health by keeping you active. Asking the right questions and assessing the results will go a long way in finding an aquatic therapy program that is right for you. 


The potential health benefits of turmeric supplements make this one of the most talked about herbs within the natural health community. In fact, what many of us already knew about turmeric (curcuma longa) is finally being backed with scientific research. New clinical tests are revealing fresh insight into what makes this herb so special and worth making a part of your healthy diet.

What is turmeric good for?

Turmeric contains an important compound in its rhizome called curcumin, which is credited with providing the medicinal benefits that may be found when using turmeric supplements. The National Center for Biotechnology Information website currently has more than 3,800 published articles touting the beneficial properties of turmeric as well as over 9,600 articles about curcumin’s benefits. Some of these include support for:

  • Digestive system health
  • Healthy weight management
  • Immune system health
  • Brain health
  • Healthy joint function

Below, we examine some of those claims and the clinical research that seeks to add credibility to turmeric.

Digestive system health

In a recent study, researchers looked at the use of turmeric to treat digestive disorders, including dyspepsia, peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease. These conditions are traditionally treated with drugs, surgery and psychological therapies.

“In preclinical trials, turmeric was shown to potentially protect the GI tract through its anti-inflammatory effect. It also demonstrated its ability to increase the secretion of gastrin, secretin and bicarbonate, gastric wall mucus and pancreatic enzyme, while inhibiting intestinal spasms and ulcer formation caused by stress, alcohol, indomethacin, pyloric ligation and reserpine.”

In one randomized controlled trial conducted with 116 patients suffering bowel disorders, those who were given turmeric showed improvement after seven days. Eighty seven percent of the group experienced symptom relief from dyspepsia compared to 53 percent of the placebo group. Researchers noted that this was “statistically significant and clinically important.”

Healthy weight management

Body fat, or adipose tissue, is loose connective tissue that stores energy, and cushions and insulates the body. It is identified in two forms: white adipose tissue (WAT), which stores energy and comprises 20-25 percent of body weight; and brown adipose tissue that is stored and used to generate body heat.

The challenge with white adipose tissue is that the body will only begin to burn this fat if there is an energy deficit, which makes it hard to remove. Researchers are now looking at the possibility that ingesting turmeric may result in the browning of WAT. This could mean that stubborn body fat could be stimulated to release as heat like brown adipose tissue.

One randomized, controlled study evaluated the effect of curcumin on subjects affected by metabolic syndromes. After 60 days, researchers found that patients lost more weight when taking turmeric. In fact, curcumin administration increased weight loss, enhanced percentage reduction of body fat, increased waistline reduction, improved hip circumference reduction and enhanced reduction of BMI.

Immune system health

Scientific studies show that turmeric contains medicinal properties that may stimulate activities in the body that could have a significant impact on how we look at disease prevention. An article from the Division of Molecular Medicine at the Bose Institute looked at curcumin and its ability to resurrect the immune system:

“More recently curcumin has been found to have anti-cancer properties that affect a variety of biological pathways involved in mutagenesis, oncogene expression, cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, angiogenesis and metastasis. Several studies were conducted to explore the anti-cancer properties of curcumin and it was shown that curcumin modulates multiple cell signaling pathways which include cell proliferation, cell survival, apoptosis or cell death.”

Turmeric is also credited for its antioxidant content. Researchers found several mechanisms of actions in turmeric that provide free radical scavenging compounds, including phenols and flavonoids. These plant compounds are believed to support the healthy development of cells and promote the body’s natural immune response.

Brain health

Researchers at the Department of Neurology in Sepulveda, California, recognize that curcumin contains many clinically studied chemical properties that have demonstrated potentially medicinal benefits in a healthy brain. While their research does not account for the largescale human studies needed to verify their research, they do suggest that turmeric may hold some answers.

In the article Neuroprotective Effect of Curcumin, researchers examined how dietary curcumin may provide medicinal benefits during normal aging.

“Because of its pluripotency, oral safety, long history of use and inexpensive cost, curcumin has great potential for the prevention of multiple neurological conditions for which current therapeutics are less than optimal. Examples reviewed include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, head trauma, aging and stroke.”

Healthy joint function

Turmeric may support the cartilage and fluid found between joints. In healthy joints, particularly in knees, hips and hands, cartilage acts as a cushion between bone structures, and joint fluid carries nutrients. Some research points to compounds in turmeric that may block inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2. also recognizes several studies identifying the potential of turmeric and curcumin to provide relief for certain disorders.

“Several recent studies show that turmeric/curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and modifies immune system responses. In a small 2012 pilot study, a curcumin product called BCM-95 reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active RA better than diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).”

These studies, as well as those that are ongoing, continue to show how special this herb really is and why it’s worth taking turmeric supplements. 


Volunteering is an unselfish activity where an individual or group of people provide service for no financial gain. Volunteering can also be an opportunity to develop a skill or improve one’s quality of life. Yet, what truly motivates someone to volunteer? Why do people give their time, money and talent to get involved?

Some people volunteer because it meets a personal need. This could mean completing community service, or their company has an expectation of their employees to give back through volunteering, or even as a way to meet other people, expand their resources or utilize networks for personal or professional gain. Volunteering also provides a social opportunity and the chance to meet new friends. In any of these situations, the organization receiving the volunteers benefits by the utilization of free services and advice when needed.

The strongest form of volunteering comes when someone has a personal belief and passion for a cause. Passion is a strong motivator for someone who wants to volunteer, and is the driving force that connects individuals with organizations they believe in. Often times, people are willing to sacrifice more to give back when they are enthusiastic about what they are doing. When someone becomes truly passionate about a cause, this is when an organization has truly connected with someone on the strongest personal level and gains the most from their volunteer.

It’s too easy to say that you don’t have time to volunteer, or it’s really not your thing! There are hundreds of organizations, in every community, that could use help to improve lives and make a difference. From simple, one-time opportunities to more complicated, skill-based activities, everyone has something to share that can make a significant impact. Ask yourself, “If I could get paid to do anything in the world, what would I want to do?” This doesn’t have to be a job, it can be a hobby that you enjoy doing. When you have the answer to that question, you can begin connecting yourself with volunteer opportunities. If you love to run, you could consider volunteering at a race event. If you enjoy traveling, this could be your opportunity to look into mission work. Volunteer opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, just like people and the passions they encompass.

If you want to get involved but don’t know where to start, consider what nonprofit organizations or groups in your community connect with your skills and passions. A simple search on Google can help you get started. For example, I love to sew and quilt so I searched online “volunteer sewing in Appleton, WI.” I immediately found a number of opportunities where I could get involved through existing projects and groups who sew quilts, blankets, aprons, pillowcases, doll clothes and so much more for charitable causes and nonprofit organizations. I had no idea how easy it was to find opportunities in our area.

The YMCA of the Fox Cities is a great place to begin your search. Their Togetherhood® Program gives people the opportunity to participate in meaningful community service projects that benefit people and organizations right here in our neighborhood. Togetherhood is not about the Y, but rather serves as a conduit to projects that improve the community. Members, and the passions they have, are what drive various service projects. This is a way for you to start small as you navigate the waters of volunteerism.

There is no better time to start your search than now. Grab a friend, find your passion and commit to a cause. Just think what an incredible difference you can make in your community and the positive and lasting effect it will have on you. 


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