Individuals and organizations can seize the moment and share in honoring America’s volunteers this spring.
National Volunteer Week is April 15-21 and it celebrates the millions of people dedicating themselves to taking action bettering the community. The week also provides opportunities to inspire, recognize and encourage people to seek out and engage in activities that can affect positive social change.
National Volunteer Week was established by President Richard Nixon in 1974. It continues to grow in scope through the support of all subsequent U.S. presidents and other elected officials.
Volunteer Kosciusko has become the place for Kosciusko County residents to find volunteer opportunities that fit their lifestyles. Whether they were looking for a one-day volunteer opportunity, like Day of Caring, or a long-term relationship with one of many organizations, or something in between, more than 350 volunteers have signed up with Volunteer Kosciusko to find a way to contribute their time and talents. Likewise, more than 45 organizations look to Volunteer Kosciusko to regularly fill its volunteer needs. Currently, Volunteer Kosciusko has 48 organizations offering 39 opportunities using 414 volunteers.
Day of Caring, an annual event, is a day-long volunteer opportunity. Last year, Aug. 17, 1,509 volunteers working in 12 Kosciusko County communities made a difference in many lives. A total of 138 projects, benefiting the elderly and those with low incomes or disabilities, were completed as a part of last year’s Day of Caring effort. Since 2005, volunteer numbers have grown, from 24 volunteers and four projects to more than 1,500 volunteers and 138 projects.
At the American Red Cross, volunteers constitute 96 percent of the total workforce needed to carry out the organization’s humanitarian mission. More than half a million people a year volunteer at American Red Cross. The local Red Cross chapter in Warsaw uses volunteers inside and outside the county. The local chapter is always looking for more volunteers to aid in emergencies, such as fires and natural disasters.
Kosciusko Community Senior Services uses volunteer Mobile Meals drivers. The agency has a continuing need for volunteer drivers, especially south of Pierceton.
Volunteers deliver a hot lunch to clients five days a week, Monday through Friday.╩Most Mobile Meals routes take from 30 to 60 minutes to drive, and deliver the meals. There are nine routes using 200 to 225 volunteer drivers county-wide.Court Appointed Special Advocates uses volunteers, too. In fact, last year, 65 active volunteers provided nearly 9,000 hours of advocacy to CASA children. Volunteers spent 820 face-to-face meetings with children outside of court.
CASA volunteers represent the voice of children in abuse and neglect cases, as well as certain custody disputes. Training is certified by the state of Indiana ensuring CASA volunteers the utmost respect and creditability for the sake of an abused or neglected child.
According to Renee Salyer, CASA program manager, “We have seen an increase of people wanting to become CASA volunteers in the past couple of years. CASA has three full-time staff members to maintain a large volunteer base. Currently, 46 volunteers are active from our pool of 65 trained volunteers. Each of the 46 volunteers has a case and many have two cases. During any given year, we have CASA volunteers who take a hiatus to recharge or take care of family obligations. Most of these volunteers return to take on a new case within the year.”
Martha Rose, a homemaker and mother of four, has been a CASA volunteer for the past 11 years.
[MORE]“I feel as if I am giving children who are abused and neglected hope,” Rose said. “When I see an expression of happiness on their face, after telling them I am there for them because I care is the best part of being a CASA (volunteer), and letting a child know he or she can talk to me, and I will listen.”[MORE]
Habitat for Humanity is looking for women to work on a project in May. National Women Build Week is May 5-13 and, in honor of this, women are needed to help build a Habitat house at 559 E. Market St., Warsaw. If interested in volunteering, call (574) 269-4104.
For more information on CASA, visit www.casachildren.com. For volunteer opportunities all across the county, visit www.volunteerkosciusko.org, or call United Way at (574) 269-2592.
By PHOEBE MUTHART