The Gift of Holiday Giving
pie photo
With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays quickly approaching, a network of agencies is now collecting holiday meals and gifts for more than 10,000 area families in need through the Montgomery County Holiday Giving Project. You can help with these efforts and make a family's holiday brighter by donating food, gift cards, goods, and funds to one of the project's partner organizations. 

To find their requests--and many more ways to help during this season--visit the Volunteer Center's online list of holiday-related opportunities. While opportunities to serve meals at shelters on Thanksgiving day are, thankfully, filled quickly (typically by organizations' regular volunteers), the list features a variety of ways to assist with holiday needs. In addition to providing donations, these include making and distributing Thanksgiving sandwiches for homeless individuals, wrapping gifts at local malls and stores, and photographing holiday distribution events. The list is updated daily, so check back frequently to find more.

If you aren't able to find a volunteer opportunity that fits your schedule during this season, remember that organizations that serve the needy seek assistance all year--and especially after the holidays. Find them and learn more about their missions and year-round needs by searching the Volunteer Center's online list of organizations dedicated to basic needs/food/shelter.
'Being There' for Those Who Are Ill or Grieving
Volunteers deliver all services for CaringMatters's programs, including its Volunteer Helping Hands, which serves patients with serious illnesses and their and families
CaringMatters--founded in 1989 as Hospice Caring--is dedicated to ensuring that no one dies alone or grieves without support. To this end, the Gaithersburg-based nonprofit provides social supports and community education throughout Montgomery County for children, adults, and families facing serious illness or grieving the death of a loved one. All services are delivered free of charge by a large network of dedicated and trained volunteers. 

CaringMatters is currently seeking volunteers for several programs:
  • Helping Hands volunteers offer short-term, practical social and emotional support for people of all ages with a serious illness and no reasonable prospect of a cure. Volunteers provide non-medical care such as transportation, assistance with errands, respite care, or simply serving as a sympathetic ear. 
  • Good Grief Club facilitators work alongside school counselors to oversee peer support groups that provide a safe space for children in grades K-12 to discuss their feelings about the death of a loved one, develop healthy coping strategies, and find comfort in learning that they are not alone. 
  • Adult bereavement group facilitators work with another volunteer to help run regular 90-minute support group meetings that allow participants to meet others who are also grieving, share their stories, and learn from one another. Some groups meet during the day, but most meet on weeknights from 7 to 8:30 pm. 
  • Camp Erin Big Buddies fill a critical role at CaringMatters’s overnight weekend camp for children ages 6-17 grieving the death of a loved one. They provide caring support to their assigned “Little Buddy” by listening to the child discuss the loss, in supervised group sessions and throughout camp events. 

All volunteers who work directly with clients first attend a three-day introductory training session, which is often described by graduates as a transformative experience. Upcoming training sessions are scheduled for 8:30 am-4 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, Nov. 19-21, March 10-12, 2020, and May 19-21, 2020. 

Serving as a CaringMatters volunteer can be even more transformative. “The work we do, whether it is caregiving or bereavement support, puts us in a sacred place with people,” notes longtime volunteer Toni Robinson, “It connects us as human beings.”

Allison Stearns, executive director of CaringMatters, agrees. “Volunteers are the force behind all of the critical ‘emotional’ health care we do out in the community. We hold space for those who are ill and for those who are grieving ahead of a loss or after. We are compelled by our shared humanity to be there for each other. As individuals and as an organization, we never lose sight of that truth and our mission of compassionate support.”

To learn more about the organization and its volunteer opportunities, or to register for training, visit the CaringMatters website, email Penny Gladhill, or call 301-869-4673.
Find Time to Volunteer This Fall
November kicks off the busy season for many people, but finding time to give back can give you a new perspective on your priorities. Here are just a few of the hundreds of volunteer positions you'll find on the Volunteer Center website. Check our online volunteer calendar for more date-specific opportunities or use the search box at the top of this email or the top of our home page to search for more ways to serve.
Opportunities marked with the graduation cap icon meet the MCPS guidelines for 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.
PARK TRAIL STEWARDS: Saturday, Nov. 9, 9 am-12 noon, Gaithersburg, and additional opportunities on Sundays, Nov. 10 & 24, and Dec. 8 & 15, in Gaithersburg or Silver Spring. Assist Montgomery Parks with maintaining and improving trail sections and, in some locations, constructing new trails. All tools and gloves provided. Minimum age: 15, or 13 if accompanied by an adult volunteer. Sign up online, email Lynn Vismara or call 301-495-2504.
PARADE FLOAT BUILDERS: Saturdays, Nov. 9 and 16, 10 am-12 noon, Silver Spring. Assist in constructing and designing a fairy wonderland-themed float for the Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade. Sponsored by Silver Spring Day School. Volunteers should be between the ages of 14 and 18. Sign up online, email adminoffice@silverspringdayschool.org, or call 301-593-6581.
MOCK JOB INTERVIEWERS: Thursday, Nov. 14, 8:30 am-12:30 pm, Rockville. Help young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities improve their job interview skills and techniques as part of a two- or three-person mock interview panel coordinated by SEEC. Volunteers can serve the entire shift or just a portion of it. Email Steve Blanks, or call 301-576-9000 x225.
5K TRAIL RACE VOLUNTEERS: Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 am-12 noon, Germantown. Set up the course, check in and guide registrants, hand out water, cheer on runners, and/or direct traffic at Clarksburg Church's annual race at Butler's Orchard to benefit four local organizations. Minimum age: 14. Sign up online or call 240-454-5353.
HOMELESS RESOURCE DAY ASSISTANTS: Thursday, Nov. 24, 9 am-2 pm, Gaithersburg. Greet, guide, and otherwise assist guests with accessing services, resources, and information at this annual one-day, one-stop assistance program for individuals and families experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Sponsored by Montgomery County HHS/Services to End and Prevent Homelessness. Advance registration and training required. Minimum age: 18. Sign up online, email Gloria Huggins, or call 240-777-4565.
WEEKDAY MEAL DELIVERY DRIVERS: Distribute meals for Bethesda-Chevy Chase Meals on Wheels to homes and apartments on one of six routes in Chevy Chase, Bethesda, and Potomac. Volunteers work in teams of two and sign up for one day a week, generally the same day and route each week. Each route takes up to two hours to cover and should begin between 9 and 9:30 am. Minimum age: 18. Email Ed Rastatter or call 301-654-4610.
ARTS PERFORMANCE VOLUNTEERS: Serve as an usher, concessions attendant, or box office assistant for BlackRock Center for the Arts performances in Germantown. Minimum age: 15. Email Judith Riccio or call 240-912-1052.
GYM MANAGEMENT ASSISTANTS: Set up training equipment, greet customers, operate point-of-sale systems, track uniform inventory, and help with other tasks at Tru2Form Hoops in Bethesda. Ongoing shifts available Mondays through Thursdays, 5:30-8 pm. Volunteers should be between the ages of 15 and 18. Email Derek Owens or call 240-459-0530.
SHELTER MEAL COOKS: Prepare weekend breakfasts for residents of local homeless shelters. Sponsored by KindWorks. Volunteers gather in Gaithersburg on the last Friday of the month, 11 am-1:30 pm. No professional cooking experience necessary. Minimum age: 14. Sign up online, email Deb Lang, or call 301-246-2452.
Help Those in Need With Tax Returns
Want to provide an important service to our community during tax season? Consider volunteering to prepare taxes, schedule appointments, or greet clients through the RSVP/AARP Tax-Aide Program, which offers tax preparation for low-to-moderate income taxpayers (with special attention to those age 60+). Each year, this program helps local residents receive millions of dollars in tax refunds. Training is provided.
You can learn more about these volunteer opportunities at one of two upcoming information sessions. (Registration is NOT required.)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 19, 10 am, at the Gaithersburg Library (18330 Montgomery Village Ave.)
  • Wednesday, Nov. 20, 1 pm, at the Wheaton Library (11701 Georgia Ave.)  

If you can't make one of these sessions, you can get more details about joining the Tax-Aide Program team by visiting the Tax-Aide volunteer web page. Alternatively, email montgomerycountytaxaide@gmail.com or call 240-777-2612.
Save the Date!
Get Ready for MLK Day of Service, Monday, Jan. 20
On Monday, Jan. 20, people across the United States will celebrate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving others. Here in Montgomery County, the Volunteer Center will hold its annual large-scale service event--featuring a wide variety of volunteer projects suitable for all ages--at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 1-3 pm that day. In addition, there will be multi-project service events at our partner sites in Silver Spring, Bethesda, Rockville, Olney, Gaithersburg, and Germantown.

Advance registration will be required. More details and registration information will be posted on our MLK Day of Service web page and in this newsletter as they become available.
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 work to better our community. This month's episode highlights the county's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, which advocates for the thousands of individuals living in local nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Subscribe to Our Partner Newsletters
The Montgomery County Volunteer Center is part of the Office of Community Partnerships, which works to strengthen the relationship between the Montgomery County government and the residents it serves, with special emphasis on underserved and emerging communities. Subscribe to the monthly OCP newsletter to keep up with these activities. 

Follow these links to subscribe to our other partner agencies' electronic publications:
Montgomery County Volunteer Center
Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved.