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Making an Impact as a Volunteer

Because you share your time and energy with an organization, you earn the right to be heard. How can you exercise this ability?

Nashville, Ark. – Do you consider yourself a volunteer? Volunteers can be found in community organizations, schools and/or churches. There are lots of opportunities for people to volunteer. Volunteers have power! Because you share your time and energy with an organization, you earn the right to be heard. How can you exercise this ability?

            In volunteer organizations, you may feel the board members are the only ones who make the decisions that affect the whole group. In reality, any member can influence an organization by making suggestions, voicing constructive criticism and sharing the comments made by others. Great members learn the chain of command and work within it. They offer practical recommendations, not complaints.

            Volunteers have a tremendous impact in youth and adult programs sponsored by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Last year, Extension Homemakers in Howard County donated over 4793 hours to educational programs. When you put a dollar figure to that number, it equals over $108,082!

            As a volunteer, you are the best public relations agent an organization can have. Do you talk about your volunteer work with others? Do you encourage people to volunteer? Are you informed about all the services your organization provides and how they can connect with people in the county?

            July is the beginning of a new year for Extension Homemakers in Howard County. The mission of Extension Homemakers is to empower individuals and families to improve their lives through continuing education, leadership development, and community service. EHC is one of the largest nonprofit volunteer groups in the state.

            The Extension Homemaker organization centers around three distinct areas that work together – education, leadership and community service. Extension Homemakers focus on learning more about things they are interested in. They decide their educational focus for the year and their club meetings.

            A few of the educational programs they have chosen for 2015-2016 include programs on preparing easy meals without heating up the kitchen, cooking with friends, learning the “ins” and “outs” of shopping online while protecting your identity, importance of getting enough sleep, taking time for yourself, square foot gardening, plus much more!

            Leadership is developed through local clubs, county organizations, district and state meetings. Extension Homemakers meet monthly and are in charge of their club activities. They plan and conduct activities that benefit their members.

            Community Service is given back to the community through volunteering at specific programs conducted by the Cooperative Extension Service, through 4-H youth development programs, or through programs the club decides upon. Some clubs make and donate items for local families or the Arkansas Children’s Hospital or UAMS cancer patients. There are numerous opportunities to give back.

            Extension Homemakers Club meetings also provide a social opportunity for members in a particular community to get together. The clubs are a great place for friends to come together while doing something good for their community. There are currently seven EHC clubs in Howard County.

            The Extension Homemaker organization is open to anyone, ages 19 and up regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information or any other legally protected status. Clubs are formed in all areas of the county and can be general clubs, which focus on a variety of educational topics, or they may be project clubs, which focus on just one area; such as, cooking, quilting, scrapbooking, etc. The members decide the focus of their clubs.

            If you are interested in learning more about volunteering through the Extension Homemaker program, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. I will be glad to send you a brochure detailing the activities of the organization.

            You may also want to check out our website at be sure to click on Howard County News for the latest edition of the Howard County EHC Newsletter. The newsletter lists scheduled activities of the county organization.

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a great recipe to try with all the fresh garden produce you may have. This recipe makes enough for the whole family or for potluck dinners! It is low in calories and is very nutritious!

Summer Vegetable Gratin

6 Tablespoons olive oil

1 pound zucchini, cut into ¼-inch slices

1 pound yellow summer squash, cut into ¼-inch slices

1 teaspoon salt

2 medium onions, sliced

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped fine or 1 teaspoon dried

4 large ripe tomatoes (1 ½ pounds), cut into ¼-inch slices

1 cup bread crumbs

2 ounces Parmesan cheese grated to about 1 cup

            Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. brush 13 x 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.

            In a large bowl, toss zucchini and summer squash slices with 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to colander set over bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes.

            In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until simmering. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and dark golden brown. Press zucchini and summer squash slices between layers of paper towel to remove as much liquid as possible, then place zucchini and squash slices in a large bowl.

            In a small bowl, combine garlic, 3 tablespoons oil and thyme. Pour half of the mixture over zucchini and summer squash, toss to cover and then arrange slices in the greased baking dish. Arrange caramelized onions in even layer over squash. Layer tomato slices on top of onions. Spoon remaining garlic-oil mixture evenly over tomatoes.

            Bake until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Combine bread crumbs, remaining tablespoon oil and cheese. Remove baking dish from oven and increase heat to 450ºF. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly on top of tomatoes. Bake until bubbling and cheese is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Yield: 10 servings

            Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories-190, Fat-12 g, Sodium-470 mg, Carbohydrates-14 g, Fiber-2 g, Protein-7 g

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N Main St Nashville AR 71854
(870) 845-7517

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  • The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

    The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.