-- Deann Hollis
In This Issue
Montgomery Serves Awards logo
Nominations Now Open for Volunteer Awards 
Know some extraordinary volunteers? Nominate them for the 2018 Montgomery Serves Awards, Montgomery County's highest honor for volunteer service. This prestigious annual awards program, coordinated by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, recognizes volunteer efforts in the following categories:
  • Neal Potter Path of Achievement Award, for lifetime service by residents age 60 and up
  • Volunteer of the Year Award, for extraordinary volunteerism by an individual in 2017
  • Youth Volunteer of the Year Award, for remarkable volunteers age 18 and younger
  • Volunteer Group of the Year Award, for a group's noteworthy volunteer efforts
  • Business Volunteer of the Year Award, for outstanding community service by a corporation
To nominate a deserving volunteer, complete the appropriate online nomination form no later than Friday, Feb. 23.

Award recipients will be honored at a gala ceremony attended by county and state dignitaries the evening of Monday, April 23, at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. Reserve your free tickets now.
Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center
Enhancing the Lives of Animals in Need
Animal Services _ Adoption Center
Are you an animal lover looking for a way to help homeless, abused, or neglected critters? Then consider volunteering with the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC), which shelters and cares for all kinds of animals in need--from dogs and cats to exotic pets and from farm animals to wildlife.  The center's volunteer program plays a critical role in improving the lives of homeless animals and helping them find their way into good homes; this, in turn, helps MCASAC complete its full range of animal welfare work, including shelter care, adoptions, spay and neuter assistance, vaccination clinics, and education and outreach related to responsible pet care.  

Volunteer animal handlers--who work specifically with dogs, cats, or small animals--provide shelter residents with one-on-one attention (and, in the case of dogs, exercise/walking and training), therefore improving their adoptability. In addition, handlers may assist the public with adoption and animal care questions, clean kennels and litter boxes, and show animals for adoption visits. Training is required and volunteers must be at least age 18. (Younger volunteers, ages 14 to 17, can serve alongside a parent or guardian through the center's youth apprentice program, learning about shelter operations and helping with some animal care, but this popular program is currently full.)

Volunteers also serve as foster families, providing temporary full-time homes and care for animals that can't be housed in the shelter, such as newborn kittens and puppies, injured or sick dogs and cats, and rabbits making way for new small mammals at MCASAC. Fostering assignments generally last two weeks to several months, and the center provides all the supplies and care needed during this time.

The rewards volunteers experience is often greater than they had imagined. "I began fostering to save lives. But now I see that it is so much more than that," notes Rhonda Willis-Stuppel, a foster care volunteer. "Fostering kittens brings friends and family to my home. Fostering allows me to educate strangers about the need for spay and neuter programs. It is about the love I see the moment an adopter holds their new kitten for the first time, even though I know it is the last time I will get to hold that kitten. Fostering brings great joy when I hold a lap full of purring wiggly kittens, and it brings heartache when a kitten isn't strong enough to survive. Fostering is about so much more than saving lives. It is about the lives that are changed because of the lives that are saved."

MCASAC is currently growing its team of dedicated volunteers and is particularly in need of experienced dog walkers, cat handlers, and small animal volunteers. Visit the center's website for more information and the online application. 
Put Your Heart Into Helping
February marks Valentine's Day and American Heart Month. Make it the month to show your love for volunteering! Here are 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  or the top of our home page to search for more ways to serve. 
SSL preapproved
These opportunities are preapproved 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 BLACK HISTORY MONTH MUSEUM DOCENTS: Saturdays and Sundays in February, Sandy Spring. Lead small tour groups and share information on the collections at the Sandy Spring Slave Museum & African Art Gallery. Training is provided and will take place on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2-4 pm. Docents can choose to volunteer for specific programs held weekends throughout the month. Minimum age: 16. Email Laura Anderson Wright or call 301-774-4066.

SSL preapproved ASSISTED LIVING VISITORS: Sunday, Feb. 11, 1-3 pm, Rockville. Present interactive programs for older adults residing in an assisted living community. Sessions should focus on topics of interest to seniors as well as students, such as technology, performing arts, or memory games. Sponsored by Link Generations. Minimum age: 14. Training provided. Email Lori Marks or call 301-365-2218.

SSL preapproved BLANKET MAKERS: Friday, Feb. 9, drop in anytime 10 am-9pm, Derwood. Knit, crochet, or sew afghans and quilts for hospitalized children. Yarn and fabric provided, but donations of additional materials are welcome. Sponsored by the Montgomery County Association for Family & Community Education. Minimum age: 13. Email Jeanne Purich or call 301-641-4878.

SSL preapproved DANCE PARTY ASSISTANTS: Saturday, Feb. 10, 6-9:30 pm, Gaithersburg. Help Upcounty Community Resources throw its Winter Wonderland Dance Party for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Volunteers will help with setup and decorating and will model peer relationships for individuals with varying needs. Minimum age: 15.  Email Jenn Lynn or call 240-614-0444. 

SSL preapproved CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION VOLUNTEERS: Various shifts Friday, Feb. 16, 6-9 pm, and Saturdays & Sundays, Feb. 17, 18, 24 & 25, 11 am-5:30 pm, Gaithersburg. Assist with setting up and/or helping with performances and activities at the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center's annual lunar new year celebration at Lakeforest Mall. Minimum age: 15. Email Chiafeng Wang or call 301-820-7200 x8114.

SSL preapproved RUNNING PRACTICE PARTNERS and COACHES: Help lead one of Girls on the Run's before- or after-school groups for 3rd-8th grade girls. Groups meet countywide twice a week for 10 weeks (beginning in March) and focus on preparing the girls physically for a noncompetitive 5K run and mentally for various life issues often facing today's pre-teen girls. Volunteers do not need to be runners, just willing to serve as a role model for their team. Coaches must be at least 18, but high school students can serve as practice partners. Training provided. Email Amy Lopez or call 301-881-3801 x103. 

GREENHOUSE GARDENERS: Grow native plants for use in display gardens at Montgomery Parks's Black Hill Regional Park in Boyds. Volunteers needed to work inside the park's greenhouse on Tuesday and/or Friday mornings, early March through early May. Plant propagation experience preferred, but not required. All tools and supplies provided. Register online, email Lynn Vismara, or call 301-495-2504. 

SSL preapproved MEAL PROVIDERS: Prepare and deliver breakfast, lunch, or dinner for clients at the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless men's shelter in Rockville. Volunteers are also welcome to stay and serve meals. From now through April, the shelter needs meals for 200 individuals daily. Sign up for specific meals/dates online or email the program coordinator.
MALE MENTORS: Serve as a positive role model for boys and young men of color--many of them in foster care and/or being monitored by child welfare because of abuse or neglect. YMCA Youth & Family Services seeks men age 21 and older to commit to spending four to eight hours per month with a young person, developing a one-on-one relationship that will help him realize he is not alone in dealing with challenges. Email Ashley Greenwood or call 301-576-9075.

MUSEUM CALL CENTER VOLUNTEERS: Assist callers from around the world with planning their visits to the Smithsonian Institution museums in DC. Volunteers may also work on various projects related to visitor engagement. Added bonus: This position is based in the Smithsonian Castle! Requires outstanding computer and customer service skills, the ability to work with diverse people, and a federal background check. Minimum age: 18. Training provided; next classroom training session set for Saturday, April 7. Email Abbey Earich.
Think Spring (and Summer Too)!
The wind chill and calendar may say it's still winter, but students interested in volunteering during spring break should start putting themselves in springtime mindset and check out volunteer opportunities now for best availability that week. In fact, it's not even too early to start looking into summer volunteer positions. 

One quick way to find spring break opportunities is to visit the Volunteer Center March calendar and follow the links to volunteer needs during your school's days off (MCPS spring break runs March 26-April 2). To find summer positions, you can check the calendar as well as search for keywords like summer and/or camp.
New Program Seeks Skilled Volunteers 50+
The Montgomery County Volunteer Center's new 50+ Volunteer Network matches nonprofit and government agencies that need specific assistance with skilled volunteers age 50 and up who want to make a significant contribution of time and talent to the community, while still retaining a flexible schedule.

Trained advisors will help individuals find volunteer opportunities that fit their particular areas of interests, skills, and availability. Opportunities may include s
hort-term consulting projects (everything from grant writing to IT help), ongoing program management and support (such as event management or newsletter editing), and direct services to clients in need (including tutoring or providing career counseling).

For more information, email the program coordinators
Thousands Make MLK Holiday a Day ON
MLK Day 2018
Thousands of people in Montgomery County joined forces to better our community and honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy by volunteering during the 2018 MLK Day of Service and the weekend leading up to the holiday. 
More than 3,500 people participated in the Montgomery County Volunteer Center's largest-ever multi-project site at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center, where they worked on everything from packaging food for the hungry to creating hand warmers for seniors. An additional 1,200-plus volunteers served at coordinated project sites in Silver Spring and Gaithersburg, which were hosted by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority's Montgomery County alumnae chapter and Seneca Creek Community Church. Many hundreds more volunteered for a variety of service activities in Montgomery County throughout the MLK Day weekend. These included painting a nonprofit's offices, removing invasive plants in parks, cleaning up trash from streams, and collecting food for needy families. 
Check out the MLK Day photo gallery, featuring images from the day of service. If you have pictures to contribute, upload them here or email us
Awards Honor School Service 
The Montgomery County Board of Education is now soliciting nominations for its Distinguished Service to Public Education awards. This annual awards program recognizes and shows appreciation to individuals, groups, and businesses that have made exemplary contributions to public education in Montgomery County. Up to three awards will be presented in each of the following categories: community individual, community group, business, MCPS staff, school service volunteer, and individual pioneer. 

The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, March 1. Visit the board's awards website for more details and the nomination form.
Make Dream Volunteer Projects a Reality
If you have a dream volunteer project you are currently working on--or want to carry out--you could win a grant of up to $2,500 to help bring it to life through AARP's Create the Good Dream Builders Contest

To enter, submit either a one-minute (or shorter) video or a photo and short essay of 500 words or less describing the dream project, the community nonprofit it would involve, and why it deserves the recognition. All entries will be published to a gallery on the contest site, and winners will be chosen based on scores from the contest's judges as well as a public vote. The deadline to submit entries is Wednesday, Feb. 28. 
New Video Highlights Volunteering in Montgomery County
Comcast Creative has released a short video offering an inspiring glimpse of volunteerism in Montgomery County, including footage and interviews with local volunteers, nonprofit leaders, and the Volunteer Center's own Molly Callaway. If you volunteer or care about service in this county, you'll love this media piece!
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. This month's program highlights Habitat for Humanity of Metro Maryland, which is dedicated to reducing substandard housing and helping families realize the dream of home ownership. Watch it online here.
Follow Us on Social Media and Get the Latest!
Learn about new and last-minute service opportunities, volunteer news, and information to inspire on the Montgomery County Volunteer Center Facebook page. If you haven't already done so, Like us to get the latest information in your Facebook feed. 

You can also stay connected through these links:
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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 these activities.

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Montgomery County Volunteer Center