Master Wellness Volunteer Program
Today’s column will focus on another Extension banner program which makes an impact in Hopkins County – Master Wellness Volunteer Program. Finding reliable resources of health and wellness information can be a challenge. Since 1906, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has provided Texans with guidance in various health areas and is now training volunteers to provide more communities with the education and tools needed for healthy living. Be sure to read the last paragraph about the upcoming 2017 training!
Relevance: The Master Wellness Volunteer initiative is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program that will provide volunteers with 40 hours of training in health and nutrition education. In return, the volunteers agree to give back 40 hours of service. The volunteer opportunities are diverse – giving presentations for local community groups, assisting with periodic cooking schools, distributing information at health fairs, and much more. Previous health or wellness training is not required, but an interest in living healthfully and helping others do the same is important.
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 the Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes series which takes place twice annually. Master Wellness Volunteers can provide healthy recipe demonstrations for Head Start parents, senior citizen’s groups, and others. The opportunities are endless.
Being a Master Wellness Volunteer doesn’t have to mean getting up in front of people and teaching a class, although some of the Hopkins County MWV’s have done so. It can involve 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.
Response: Hopkins County has ten trained Master Wellness Volunteers. A newsletter, “Volunteer Connection”, is sent out six or more times per year to keep in touch with volunteers and to announce opportunities to assist with various events and programs. Volunteers are recognized annually at the Extension Leadership Advisory Board banquet, as well as at each event in which they participate. Their activities are also highlighted in the “Volunteer Connection” newsletter. An annual Master Wellness Volunteer Luncheon also provides opportunities to fellowship and receive professional development training.
Results: Hopkins County Master Wellness Volunteers have contributed a combined total of 419.55 hours in 2016. (And they have already hit the ground running in 2017!) Volunteers assisted with the following events in 2016:
- Kids’ Safe Saturday Fair – 650 attendees
- Kids’ Camp: Fun, Food, Fitness – 27 registered participants, 12 Blue Blaze Drill Team helpers
- Fall Festival Creative Arts Contest – 286 entries
- Senior Citizen’s Expo – 200 attendees
- Ag-in-the-Classroom planning sessions and implementation – 872 attendees, 3 planning sessions
- Annual Leadership Advisory Board Banquet preparations – 60 attendees
- 4-H Foods Project workshop – 27 registered participants
- Annual Holiday Program goody bag preparations, registration, and distribution of materials –147 attendees
- Programming: Head Start Walk & Talk fruit lesson – 15 attendees
- Holiday Program – Appetizers demonstration – 147 attendees
- Kids’ Camp lesson implementation (3 sessions) – 27 registered participants
- Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes registration, tray preparations, evaluation implementation – 5 sessions, 9 participants
- Head Start Parent Fair – 175 attendees
- 55+ Health Fair – 250 attendees
- Christmas Sewing workshop (3 days)– 10 registered participants
- 3 Master Wellness Volunteers attended the Regional training
They reached approximately 7,489 individuals by assisting me with educational programs, food demonstrations, health fairs, marketing/promotion, planning meetings, program preparations, trainings, and other methods. The “Volunteer Connection” newsletter contains volunteer opportunities, recognition, and professional development articles.
Future Implications: The training takes place every two years, and 2017 is the year! Now is the time to get involved if you are interested. The training is scheduled for five consecutive Mondays, starting January 30 and ending Monday, February 27, at the Hopkins County AgriLife Extension Office, 1200-B W. Houston, in Sulphur Springs. We’ll get started at 9:00 a.m. and dismiss at 3:30 p.m. Some days will include lunch, while others will allow you to dine out or bring a sack lunch. Please call 903-885-3443 for registration information