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‘Calling All Volunteers’

Bolinger uses dissertation to write book on volunteerism

Local author Jesse Bolinger turned his doctoral dissertation into a book about volunteerism.
Local author Jesse Bolinger turned his doctoral dissertation into a book about volunteerism.

Recruiting and retaining volunteers is an important aspect of many nonprofit organizations. Jesse Bolinger, a Creston native, who returned to his hometown, used his scholarly writing as the premise for a book, “Calling All Volunteers: New Ideas for Recruiting and Managing.”

The basis for Bolinger’s book stems from his background in serving as the director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program at Graceland University and as an AmeriCorps VISTA member as well as his education in nonprofit organization management.

Working as the RSVP director while completing his doctorate, Bolinger said he was able to draw on the experience for the book.

During his time with AmeriCorps, a national service organization. Bolinger said he began to realize his work with seniors could translate to other generations. He also included lessons learned from growing up and finding his way through life with a disability.

Dissatisfied with the boundaries of academic writing, Bolinger aimed to expand his doctoral dissertation into a full-fledged book.

Bolinger explains in the forward to “Calling All Volunteers” that due to the restriction of researching only academic sources for his dissertation, it was impossible to include the idea of happiness as a guide to choosing volunteer positions. However, when writing his book, Bolinger said he was able to use popular literature and media sources such as podcasts to support his ideas.

Bolinger credits Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project,” her podcast and Facebook discussions with helping him decide to expand his thoughts on mental health and happiness in the process of choosing volunteers and volunteer positions.

Rubin and Bolinger emailed back and forth about her views on happiness and how most Americans do not understand it.

Bolinger suggests in the book that happiness and mental health in volunteering lies in aligning the volunteers’ work and educational experiences with their volunteer positions so that their skills are used efficiently.

He redefines mental health as “overall satisfaction with life goals and objectives,” and uses this definition to put forth the idea that volunteers will be happier and stay longer in their positions if their work and educational history is included in their placement in volunteer opportunities. A volunteer application reflecting these ideas is included in the appendix of the book.

“Calling All Volunteers” is available at online booksellers and at in-person events this fall in the Creston, Lamoni and Winterset areas. Bolinger said he hopes to have Kindle and audio versions available by the end of the year.

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