The holiday season brings with it an overwhelming spirit of generosity and loving-kindness.

Everywhere you look, people have been throwing change into Salvation Army buckets, taking angels off trees to give presents to the needy, donating food items to pantries and buying gifts for friends and loved ones. Do you want more ideas for how to give back to your community? Do you want to reach people across generations and offer a gift that lasts longer than the time it takes to take down Christmas decorations?

The answer to these questions lies in one word: volunteerism. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. ... You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Our community has so many people with souls generated by love and hearts full of grace. There are so many people willing to reach out and care for others in need. We are so happy to introduce to you another way to focus this incredible desire to help and give hope. You can now become a Master Wellness Volunteer! You may be familiar with another group of local master volunteers called Master Gardeners. Not everyone has a green thumb, but everyone has the ability to do something.

So, what exactly is a Master Wellness Volunteer? Let’s start by defining wellness. Wellness is a state of health that doesn’t just involve the absence of an illness. It encompasses a person’s physical, emotional, social, spiritual and financial well-being. It is the job of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service family and community health agent to promote wellness for our community through teaching others. Master Wellness Volunteers will have that same opportunity!

AgriLife has many programs for everyday folks to deliver to anyone. Master Wellness Volunteers can help teach classes to any age group about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. They can help implement diabetes education programming, such as our “Cooking Well With Diabetes” series that is coming up early in the year. They can serve as Walk Across Texas site managers. Love to cook? Master Wellness Volunteers can provide healthy recipe demonstrations for people at grocery stores, businesses or clinics. The opportunities are endless.

Being a Master Wellness Volunteer doesn’t have to mean getting up in front of people and teaching a class. It can also mean helping with administrative tasks, like helping to register people for programming, entering important data into computers that is gathered from AgriLife Extension programs, and designing newsletters or flyers. There is something for everyone!

What’s in it for you? Here’s one more quote — “You cannot help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.” Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf certainly knew about the side of humanity that longs for self-fulfillment. The Master Wellness Volunteer program offers this sense of fulfillment with every hour of service donated.

Here’s the deal: Master Wellness Volunteers attend classes that include 40 hours of training in health and wellness education. In return, volunteers agree to give back 40 hours of service to the community. Volunteer training will be held on Jan. 18 and March 1.

For an application and more information, please contact your local AgriLife Extension Service office at 940-349-2882 or email chandani.kothari@ag.tamu.edu.

CHANDANI KOTHARI is the family and community health agent with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Denton County.

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