At United Way & Volunteer Services of Greater Yankton, we believe volunteers are essential in making our community a better place. Each month, we celebrate the power of volunteers and recognize individuals who are passionate and dedicated to the organizations they serve through our Volunteer of the Month Award.
June’s Volunteer of the Month Award recipient, Joe LaBarge, started volunteering in Yankton the same year he moved here in 1979. Since then, he has volunteered for many organizations including, Little League Baseball, Football, Baseball, Yankton’s JC, Yankton Morning Optimist Club, Yankton Cub and Boy Scouts, Big Friend Little Friend and Senior Games. Over the last several years, Joe has focused his time and energy coaching Yankton Special Olympics athletes.
Sheri Duke with Yankton Special Olympics nominated Joe for the award and shares, “Joe is unique to our volunteer group, as most have some sort of affiliation with an athlete prior to volunteering. Joe has built new relationships and increased his knowledge of our mission, sharing that with community members and raising awareness.”
Joe, a former basketball player himself, feels the purpose of Yankton Special Olympics is showing good sportsmanship - winning or losing, playing hard and having fun. Joe says he enjoys how volunteering has allowed him to meet new people and working alongside them for a common cause.
From the beginning Joe has encouraged his family to take part and volunteer alongside him for Yankton Special Olympics. “Joe has encouraged the involvement of his family, especially his children. You can see the impact that has had in how they treat others and relate to the athletes,” stated Duke.
Joe has made quite an impact in his close to 40 years in Yankton, participating, volunteering and coaching at nearly every available opportunity. And while he can’t name his favorite volunteer experience, we are sure the athletes that he coaches could name their favorite Joe experience.
Thank you, Joe, for your continued dedication to community. You are a wonderful example of what it means to LIVE UNITED!
When asked what advice he would give to those thinking about getting out there and volunteering in their communities, Joe’s answer is simple, “get involved.”
For more information on local volunteer opportunities or to nominate a Volunteer of the Month, visit www.yanktonunitedway.org/volunteer or call United Way & Volunteer Services of Greater Yankton at (605) 665-6766.