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ATLAS/Redeemed Remnants tops Rock County list of logged volunteer hours

Lead Summary
Mavis Fodness

Word of mouth is credited for increasing volunteerism in Rock County in 2021.
Michelle Baumhoefer, A.C.E. executive director, recently updated County Board members about the seven-county volunteer program. With her was Linda Wenzel, who manages the Rock County program.
“I can’t put into words the wonderful job she (Wenzel) has been doing in getting the word spread around the county and people involved with volunteer hours and getting them registered,” Baumhoefer said.
In 2021, the 590 Rock County volunteers provided 44,917 hours to 59 service locations.
Among the counties of Rock, Lyon, Nobles, Redwood, Murray, Lincoln and Cottonwood, Wenzel enrolled the highest number of new volunteers (147) in the last year and had the largest increase in volunteer hours in one year (11,107).
Leading the local list of 2021 logged volunteer hours is ATLAS of Rock County and its Redeemed Remnants store in Luverne.
ATLAS/Redeemed Remnants had 5,422 hours logged by 58 volunteers.
Eighteen Grace Quilters volunteers had 4,199 hours, followed by 30 Rock County Historical Society volunteers with 3,167 hours.
Baumhoefer said in Rock County alone, the volunteer hours are equivalent to 21.5 full-time employees.
“You guys have really rocked the volunteer program,” she said. “Everybody in Rock County should be very proud of what has been developed here.”
Within A.C.E. of Southwest Minnesota, the equivalent is 110 full-time employees.
Thrift stores like Redeemed Remnants operate in all seven counties, according to the A.C.E. report. Many couldn’t operate effectively without volunteers.
“This confirms that volunteers play a crucial role in providing essential services in all our communities,” Baumhoefer included in her report.
“Additionally, volunteers help build capacity and improve sustainability for the organizations that they serve and are vital resources in helping nonprofits deliver on their mission.”
Wenzel said 2020 and the Covid pandemic forced some of her volunteers from the program due to health concerns as well as closure of some of the volunteer stations.
As a result, she developed a welcome kit for all new volunteers.
“Educating volunteers, I think, is key and reporting volunteer hours because it helps local nonprofits and helps to tell their story of service to our community,” Wenzel said.
She’s also tapped into the youth volunteerism in Rock County.
The youth group, Rock the Edge-Service Over Self, logged 2,184 hours with 89 volunteers, the fourth-largest contribution in the county.
With the inclusion of the youth, the average volunteer age in Rock County is 62. Among the other six A.C.E. counties, the average age is 69.

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