Act as if what you do makes a difference. 
It does.
--William James, American philosopher and psychologist
In This Issue
Our New Website Is (Mostly) Here!
The Volunteer Center has updated its online database of volunteer opportunities to bring you new search features and a more mobile-friendly interface. (The rest of our website is also being updated to bring you these same improvements. Look for it to go live by Monday, Sept. 11.)

You can now search for volunteer opportunities by keyword(s), location, date, SSL preapproval status, and more. You'll also be able sort through volunteer needs based on a slew of other factors, including your interests, your age, how recently they were posted, whether they're outdoor activities, and wheelchair accessibility.

Once you find some opportunities that appeal to you, simply click on the links to learn more and respond to the sponsor organization. (You must register as a volunteer in order to respond from within the system. Note that volunteer registrations from the old system did not transfer, so you'll want to create a new account.) If you'd like to contact the organization directly, click on the link for the sponsoring organization within the opportunity page to see telephone number and/or email address.

If you choose to register as a volunteer, you'll be able keep track of your volunteer hours and opportunities you've responded to. Plus, you can create a volunteer schedule, become a "fan" of registered organizations, and see a list of suggested opportunities based on your interests. Check it out!
Youth Links Mentoring
Youth Links volunteer Aurelio Torres Ponsa and his mentee enjoy a Nationals game

Youth Links Mentoring 
Building Relationships With Vulnerable Kids
Youth Links Mentoring, a program of YMCA Youth & Family Services, is a one-on-one, community-based mentoring program focused on healing trauma and strengthening social skills for our county's most vulnerable children. Partnering with Montgomery County Child Welfare, Department of Juvenile Services, and Montgomery County Public Schools since 2005, Youth Links matches highly trained and committed volunteers with children ages 5 to 15 who have suffered abuse, neglect, loss, or other family disruption. Youth Links volunteers build a long-term, stable relationship with these kids, ensuring they know there is someone who cares about them.

The one-to-one mentoring relationship is powerful. Youth Links mentees report better relationships with adults and peers, a better attitude toward and better behavior in school, and an increase in well-being arising from the knowledge that they are not alone in dealing with life's challenges. "My mentor never gives up," says one youth, "even when I push him away."

The impact on volunteer mentors is just as powerful. One long-time mentor notes: "Mentoring through the Youth Links program is a rewarding experience because it gives me the opportunity to talk and think through some important decisions in my mentee's life with the benefit of having once been in her shoes. We've been able to build a strong friendship based on trust, so when important life events come up, good or bad, we're able to discuss them and I can offer support whenever she needs it."

Youth Links is especially in need of male and Spanish-speaking volunteers. Mentors must be willing to commit four to ten hours per month--for at least a year--to being part of the life of a young person in Montgomery County. Mentors take their mentees out into the community and engage in activities that broaden young minds. Sometimes, they'll just take a walk and talk. Other times, they'll pass a soccer ball or visit a museum.

To learn more about Youth Links and to explore becoming volunteer mentor, email Laura Brown or call 301-576-9068.
Back-to-Volunteering Time for Tutors
Interages Center
It's back-to-school week, and many organizations in our area are now looking for volunteer tutors, homework helpers, and mentors.  To find ways to help,   search for "tutoring" or "mentoring"   as keywords in our online list of volunteer opportunities.   You can also choose the Education/Mentoring filter to see a variety of volunteer needs related to education.

Among the opportunities you'll find are these:
Most of these opportunities are geared toward adults, though some allow students to help other students. Those that have been preapproved by MCPS for SSL hours are marked with a graduation cap icon on our website.
Local Agencies Need You!
All kinds of nonprofit and government organizations are now in high season for volunteer recruitment. Check out these below--just a few of the hundreds of volunteer positions listed on the Volunteer Center's website. Check our calendar for more date-specific opportunities or use the search box at the top of this email to search for more opportunities by keyword, location, organization, or more. 
SSL preapproved
These opportunities are pre-approved to provide MCPS Student Service Learning (SSL) hours -- but they're not just for students! Other opportunities may be eligible for SSL hours; visit the MCPS SSL website to learn more.

SSL preapproved SPORTS BUDDIES: Wednesdays, Sept. 13-Nov. 1, 4-5 pm, Silver Spring. Help children with special needs find success on the field through Open Door Sports's weekly inclusive after-school sports program. Volunteers can sign up for any or all sessions. Minimum age: 12. Email Sarah Albus or call 240-461-5559.

SSL preapproved NATURE CENTER EVENT VOLUNTEERS: Saturday, Sept. 16, 10 am-5 pm, Wheaton. Assist with fun and educational activities at the Honey Harvest Festival, a pollinator-themed children's day event at Brookside Gardens. Minimum age: 11; those under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Email Jodi Bucknam or call 301-962-1429.

SSL preapproved RACE EVENT WORKERS: Sunday, Sept. 17, 7 am-1:30 pm, Chevy Chase. Help with registration, parking, course setup, water stations, information booths, and/or the post-race brunch for EveryMind's 3K walk/5K run fundraiser to support the organization's mission to empower individuals to reach optimal mental wellness. Email Pamela Lee or call 301-424-0656.

SSL preapproved COSTUME DECORATORS: Thursday, Sept. 21, 5-7 pm, DC. Decorate costumes used for Only Make Believe's performances for children at local hospitals and care facilities. No sewing skills required; craft supplies provided. Minimum age: 14; those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Email Chris Wilson or call 202-299-0855.

BIKE RIDE EVENT ASSISTANTS : Sunday, Sept. 24, 8 am-2 pm, Barnesville. Help staff rest stops along the route of the Lymphoma Research Foundation 's annual fundraiser. Volunteers set out water and snacks, cheer on riders, transport riders and bikes in need, and serve as medics. Email Robin Richman .

SSL preapproved APPLE FESTIVAL VOLUNTEERS: Friday, Sept. 22, 5:15-8:30 pm, Rockville. Help make fresh apple cider, teach guests some apple lore, and assist with other activities at a fall festival and campfire sponsored by Montgomery Parks. Minimum age: 14. Email Lynn Vismara or call 301-495-2504.

SSL preapproved FOOD PANTRY ASSISTANTS: Tuesday, Oct. 3, 5-8 pm, and Saturday, Oct. 7, 9 am-noon (with additional dates later in the year), Boyds. Sort pantry items, organize shelves, greet clients, and pack food for the Clarksburg Community Assistance Network. Email Kathy Crapo or call 240-308-0867.

FUNDRAISING WALK HELPERS: Saturday, Oct. 14, 8 am-12:30 pm, DC. Set up, place signs, distribute t-shirts, monitor routes, and assist with other needs for the Alzheimer's Association National Capital Area Chapter's annual Walk to End Alzheimer's. Orientation provided that day. Minimum age: 10; those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult and those under 18 must have written permission of parent or guardian. Email Ben Donnelly or call 703-766-9007.
CLIENT DRIVERS: Transport seniors and adults with disabilities to local medical and social service appointments on behalf of Gaithersburg Help Inc., using an online scheduling system. Minimum age: 21. Valid driver's license, clean driving record, auto insurance, and access to a reliable vehicle required. Organization is also recruiting a transportation scheduler and transportation technical assistant. Email volunteer coordinator, call 301-216-2510, or apply online.

HOSPICE VOLUNTEERS: Help patients and families by visiting with patients, running errands, providing respite care, and other support as needed. Spanish speakers especially welcome. Sponsored by the Jewish Social Service Agency. Minimum age: 21. Requires an interview, background check, references, and completion of a 20-hour training program. (The next training session is scheduled for Sunday and Monday, Nov. 5-6.) Email Elana Premack Sandler or call 301-816-2639.  

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Manage all activities for Bethesda Help, an all-volunteer organization offering short-term assistance to residents of southern Montgomery County in financial crisis. Requires a commitment of five to ten hours per week at the volunteer's home or office. Email Tobie Bernstein or call 301-365-2022.

FRIENDLY VISITORS : Provide compassionate one-on-one human connection to residents in nursing homes who do not receive regular visits from family or friends. The Visitors Project for People With Dementia --a collaborative effort of local clergy, health and social service professionals, and consultants on aging--provides training. Email Ruth Kershner or call 301-349-2799.
Community Service Week

Get Ready for 
Community Service Week
Mark your calendar and get ready for a full week of service projects all across the county for the 31st annual Community Service Week, set for Oct. 22-29. The Volunteer Center is now working with nonprofits and government agencies to develop projects and will soon be compiling a list of volunteer opportunities for that week. 

Check our website beginning in mid-September for the latest list of projects, and pick any or all that match your interests! If you are part of a large group that would like to participate, submit a project form, email Adeela Abassi, or call 240-777-2600 so we can help identify appropriate opportunities and/or promote your work.

And while you're thinking about special community service opportunities, check out the many opportunities planned for Maryland's Day to Serve (actually a month to serve--Sept. 11-Oct. 10).
How to Help With Harvey's Aftermath
Are you looking for ways to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and other disasters? Cash donations to recognized relief agencies and other trusted charitable organizations are widely recognized as the most effective way to reach those in need. Monetary donations require no transportation and offer the receiving organization the flexibility to address developing needs.

If you'd like to take a more active approach related to Harvey, you can register online as a volunteer with the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster or contact individual member organizations in Texas. Be patient as you await response. The community and faith-based groups that are coordinating volunteer efforts are still in the most initial stages of developing their teams, but there will be need for volunteers for months to come. 

With Hurricane Irma now threatening the Southeast, and two more months remaining in the storm season, watch VOAD's website as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency for information on any additional storm-related volunteer needs.

Above all, the VOAD urges you to not self-deploy as that can create an additional burden for first responders.
Expo Offers Volunteer & Other Resources for Seniors
The Beacon 50+ Expo--set for Sunday, Sept. 10, noon-4 pm, at the Silver Spring Civic Building--will feature a wide variety of resources for seniors, including information about local volunteer opportunities as well as the chance to participate in a project on the spot at the Volunteer Center's exhibit table. 

The free event will also include health screenings, flu vaccines, expert speakers, and exhibits from more than 100 government agencies, businesses, and nonprofits. 
Watch the Ways to Make a Difference
Make a Difference , a monthly County Cable Montgomery program, highlights the contributions of stellar county volunteers and organizations that contribute positively to our community. The current program features the Jewish Council for the Aging's Career Gateway program.  Watch it online here .
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