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Nominate Volunteers for County Recognition
Act Before Friday, Feb. 28!
Nominations are now open for the Montgomery Serves Awards, our county's highest honor for volunteer service. This prestigious annual awards program is coordinated by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center and recognizes volunteer efforts in the following categories:

To nominate deserving volunteers, complete the appropriate online nomination forms linked above no later than Friday, Feb. 28, at 5 pm.

Award recipients will be honored at a gala ceremony attended by county and state dignitaries the evening of Monday, April 27.
Providing Refugee Teens With the Tools to Create Their American Story
RefAmerica teens
Personal stories have the power to build cross-cultural understanding. That’s the premise at the heart of Ref America, a leadership and public speaking program that brings refugee teens who have recently resettled in various parts of the United States to the DC area for one month every summer. While here, participants team up with local American teens to learn the narrative method of story-telling, build leadership and advocacy skills, and share traditions. The goal is to foster a warm American welcome for these young refugees while providing them with the tools to tell their stories and to help forge a new American story for themselves, their families, and their fellow refugees. 

Now in its fourth year, RefAmerica is currently recruiting local high school students to serve as peer participants and local families to host refugee teens for this summer’s program, which runs June 26 to July 26. Teen peer volunteers ages 16-19 join with refugee participants for leadership and public speaking training, visits to key Washington sites, meetings with national and international officials, and community service projects (including setting up apartments for soon-to-arrive refugee families). In the process, they explore their role within the greater American story of immigration and integration, explore what it means to be a refugee and what it means to be an American, and build lasting cross-cultural friendships. 

Host families likewise build cross-cultural relationships and have the opportunity to participate in a variety of RefAmerica activities while welcoming a refugee participant into their homes for the month. Family settings with school or college-aged students are preferred, but not at all required. 

RefAmerica also seeks college students and other young adults to serve as counselors/program assistants, full time during the program and part time in June and August. These volunteers help coordinate and chaperone events, mentor teen participants, assist them with preparing their speeches, and provide publicity, fundraising, and other program assistance. The program can help college students structure this service as a college internship.

In addition, RefAmerica welcomes volunteers of all ages to assist with a range of skills that will help the young organization move to the next level. This includes website design, videography, fundraising, event planning, volunteer recruitment, transportation, community outreach, and advocacy work. 

To learn more about all of these roles—which previous volunteers have called “life-changing” and “the best month of my life”— email Liane Dorsey or call 202-320-1014.
Leap Into Service This Month
What will you do with the "extra" day in February this leap year? If your answer includes volunteering, we can help you in your quest! 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.
BOOK SWAP WORKERS: Saturday, Feb. 8, 9-11 am, Gaithersburg. Help set up a free community book distribution event sponsored by Velocity of Books, assist guests with finding books, keep the space organized, and box up books. Volunteers of all ages welcome; those under 14 should be accompanied by an adult. Sign up online, email Carolyn Thompson, or call 301-674-3056.
FIRE PIT MONITORS: Saturdays, 11:15 am-2:30 pm, on Feb. 8 in Burtonsville, Feb. 15 in Bethesda, and Feb. 22 in Kensington. Start and maintain the fire at Montgomery Parks' S'Mores and More events, assist guests with creating their s'mores, and ensure a safe setting. Minimum age: 15; volunteers under 18 must have an accompanying adult volunteer. Email Lynn Vismara or call 301-495-2504.
SPA DAY VOLUNTEERS: Thursday, Feb. 13, 10 am-12 noon, Gaithersburg. Cut hair, polish nails, apply face masks, and do makeup for a pre-Valentine's Day spa day for clients of Family Services Inc.'s day program for adults living with chronic mental illness. Minimum age: 18. Email Mary Murphy or call 301-840-3183.
PARK CLEANUP ASSISTANTS: Friday, Feb. 28, 1-3:30 pm, at parks throughout the county. Pick up litter at a local county park on this early dismissal day for MCPS students. Sponsored by So What Else. Email Talia Ramey or call 240-778-2660.
SWIM MEET TIMERS: Saturday, Feb. 29, 12 noon-3:30 pm or 3-6:30 pm, Rockville. Use a stop watch to time events at a US Masters swim meet sponsored by Montgomery Ancient Mariners. Minimum age: 14. Email Holly Donnelly.
COLLEGE TEST PREP TUTORS: Work with a small group of students at Quince Orchard, Paint Branch, Watkins Mill, or Wheaton High School, once a week for 14 weeks, to help them prepare for the ACT college entrance exam. Sponsored by CollegeTracks, which serves low-to-moderate-income, first-generation college-bound students and provides tutor training for volunteers. Minimum age: 21. Email Michele Parsonnet or call 240-507-5206.
FOOD DISTRIBUTION VOLUNTEERS: Set up Manna Food Center's weekly market in Silver Spring for food-insecure residents, check in participants, load up carts of food, and more. Volunteers needed Wednesdays, 3-7 pm. Minimum age: 16. Email Katie Sayago or call 301-424-1130.
FRIENDLY VISITORS: Visit with an isolated or lonely older adult once a week to share stories, play board games, read, watch the news, and/or participate in other social activities. Volunteers must be at least age 21 and are matched with a client of EveryMind based on geography and interests. The organization is also seeking Representative Payee volunteers to work with clients to be sure their monthly bills are paid. Email Rameela Tuladhar or call 301-424-0656 x541.
FINANCIAL LITERACY COACHES: Guide middle school students through Junior Achievement of Greater Washington's Finance Park, an experiential learning facility in Wheaton that simulates real-world budgeting, spending, and bill payment activities. Volunteers commit to serving five hours during a single day, which includes one hour of training. Minimum age: 18. Email Aaron Churchill or call 301-288-8602.
GIRLS' FITNESS MENTORS: Help girls in grades 3-8 develop skills designed to prepare them to become happy, healthy, self-confident adolescents and adults. Coaches and junior coaches (high school students age 16 and up) for Girls on the Run of Montgomery County commit to serving once or twice a week at a school convenient to them for the spring season, which runs March 9-May 22. Training and supplies provided; running experience not required. Apply online, email Amy Lopez, or call 301-881-3801 x103.
Ready for a Snow Day?
Some of us are looking forward to the first real snow of the season, but that white stuff can pose serious difficulties for the elderly and disabled, who may not be able to get out and shovel. If you are able to help your neighbors during the next snowfall, please do! You could make it more fun and social by organizing a group of neighbors to shovel together. Not sure who might need assistance? Start a discussion on your community listserv offering to help. It's volunteering at its simplest and most local!
Thousands Make MLK Holiday a Day of Service
MLK Day of Service
Across Montgomery County, residents of all ages and backgrounds honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy by volunteering together to better our community during the 2020 MLK Day of Service.

Thousands of people participated in the Volunteer Center's multi-project site at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center, where they made jambalaya mix for the hungry, packaged personal care kits for those experiencing homelessness, made costumes for hospitalized kids, and much more. Additional volunteers served at partner sites in Silver Spring, Rockville/Aspen Hill, Olney, Gaithersburg, and Germantown. (These sites were hosted by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority's Montgomery County alumnae chapter, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority's Eta Pi Zeta chapter, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, the Greater Olney Interfaith Clergy Association, Leadership Montgomery, Seneca Creek Community Church, the City of Gaithersburg, Journey's Crossing, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's Xi Sigma Omega chapter). Plus, many hundreds more volunteered for a variety of service activities in Montgomery County throughout the MLK Day weekend.
Explore Volunteer Options for Vital Living
Next Session: Tuesday, March 3
Are you age 50+ and looking for your best volunteer fit? Learn how the Volunteer Center can help at a special library-sponsored presentation set for Tuesday, March 3, 1-2 pm, at the Wheaton Library.

This free event will examine the rich resources available through the Volunteer Center for exploring service opportunities, including the 50+ Volunteer Network, which offers personal consultations and guidance to help individuals identify volunteer activities that fit their interests and lives. Attendees will also hear about actual volunteer experiences with local nonprofits and will receive a free copy of the 50+ Vital Living Networker, a compilation of local resources for seniors. No registration is necessary.

For more information, email 50plus@montgomerycountymd.gov. Deaf and hard-of-hearing services are available; email MCPL.DeafAccess@montgomerycountymd.gov or call the Wheaton Library at 240-777-0678.
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 EveryMind, an organization committed to helping the community at large achieve optimal mental wellness. Watch it here.
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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. 

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