-- Henry James
MARCH 2018
In This Issue
Search Tips for Finding Volunteer Opportunities
If you've ever searched the Volunteer Center website to find ways to serve our community, you probably found that--with nearly 1,000 volunteer needs currently posted online--the hardest part of the task is narrowing the list down. Here are some ideas on how to zero in on volunteer opportunities that best suit you. 

Start by using the red search box at the top of the home page, where you can sort service opportunities based on keywords and/or distance from a particular zip code. For instance, if you wanted to find ways to help fight hunger, you could search for the keywords "hunger" and "hungry" (it's often helpful to include several forms of the keyword)--and maybe also "food"--to see all listings with any of those keywords in the title or description. Then, if you wanted to narrow that down to opportunities to help with hunger issues in or near your neighborhood, you'd also enter your zip code and choose to find opportunities within that zip or within a certain number of miles.

search filter image For additional search functions, follow the links at the bottom of the red search box (or the top of this newsletter). Clicking Calendar will show you date-specific opportunities, which tend to be volunteer needs at festivals, fundraisers, outdoor cleanups, and similar one-time events. The SSL Preapproved link brings you to a list of all volunteer opportunities that have been reviewed and approved by Montgomery County Public Schools for student service learning hours. And All Opportunities reveals every active need for volunteers within the database. SSL Preapproved and All Opportunities links can be further refined to filter service opportunities based on factors such as whether it's good for groups, appropriate for families to volunteer together, takes place outdoors, and/or accepting of a particular age. You can even combine multiple filters to really narrow the list. (On mobile devices, click the wrench icon to access "Tools" to bring up the filter options.)

To learn more about any of the volunteer opportunities that come up in your search, click on the title for a full description and a link to the sponsoring organization's page. Then, if you decide you want to volunteer, click the respond button to send a message of interest directly through the website; alternatively, you can visit the sponsoring organization's page to find its phone number and email address.

If you need more help sorting through the many ways to serve, call the Volunteer Center at 240-777-2600.
Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland
Creating Stability Through Home-Ownership
Habitat ReStore volunteers
ReStore volunteers spruce up furniture in preparation for sale at the store

Habitat for Humanity Metro Maryland is dedicated to helping low-income families break the cycle of poverty through home-ownership opportunities. With a decent place to live and an affordable mortgage, these families can save more, invest in education, pursue opportunities, and have more financial stability. Since Habitat Metro Maryland was founded in 1982, it has helped its clients build 60 new homes, rehab 31 foreclosed vacant properties, and complete 278 weatherization and repair projects throughout Montgomery and Prince George's counties. In the process, the organization has issued over $11 million in zero-interest financing and helped more than 700 people to realize strength, stability, and self-reliance through housing.

Habitat Metro Maryland is able to deliver this level of assistance thanks to a dedicated cadre of volunteers, who help with selecting homebuyers, operating the organization's ReStores, providing physical labor at construction sites, and countless other roles. Last fiscal year, roughly 4,800 volunteers stepped up to support the agency's mission of affordable housing, and now it is looking for more volunteers of any and all skill levels, ages 14 and up.

The organization is particularly in need of volunteers to help at its ReStore locations in Rockville and Silver Spring. These nonprofit retail outlets accept donations of quality household goods, furniture, antiques, appliances, and building supplies, reselling items at deep discount prices--thus diverting tons of reusable materials from the landfill while also developing a funding source to assist Habitat Metro Maryland in fulfilling its mission. Volunteers help the ReStore staff with a variety of tasks, including keeping the store neat and orderly, assisting customers, accepting donations, cleaning items, and organizing merchandise. Individuals as well as volunteer groups are welcome, and students can earn student service learning hours.

Additional volunteer opportunities include construction crews, operations assistants, committee service, and skill-based internships.

To learn more about becoming a Habitat Metro Maryland volunteer, visit the organization's website or attend one of its twice-monthly volunteer orientation sessions, held the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.
March Into Volunteer Action
Ready to get out and about and do something meaningful? 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 THEATER SET CONSTRUCTION ASSISTANTS: Every Saturday in March and April, 10 am-1 pm, Rockville. Hone or learn carpentry skills with an experienced crew working on the set for Rockville Little Theatre's upcoming production of Radium Girl. Volunteers are welcome to help on a single Saturday or every week. Email Dean Fiala.

SSL preapproved SPANISH-ENGLISH TRANSLATOR: Tuesday, March 6, 6:30 pm, Germantown (plus additional opportunities the first Tuesday night of every month during the school year). Translate at Captain James E. Daly Elementary PTA's monthly meeting for parents about school and county activities. Call Catherine Bullis at 240-364-4938.

ANIMAL ADOPTION EVENT VOLUNTEERS: Saturday, March 10, 12-2 pm, Rockville (plus additional opportunities one Saturday per month through August). Handle a dog or cat while it meets potential adopters at an adoption event sponsored by DC Paws Rescue. Minimum age: 12. Call Jessica Glover at 301-873-2050 or apply online

SSL preapproved CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL CLEANUP AIDES: Saturday, March 24-Sunday, April 8, 11 am-3 pm or 3:30-7 pm, Washington. Help So What Else help the National Park Service remove trash and recyclable material from the National Mall's memorial parks during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to DC. Gloves, trash grabbers, and official shirts provided. Choose one or multiple shifts. Minimum age: 15. Email Renee Gilkes or call 301-279-6990. 

SSL preapproved EGG HUNT VOLUNTEERS: Saturday, March 31, 9 am-1 pm, Takoma Park. Assist the City of Takoma Park with setting up, taking down, and running games and crafts at its annual egg hunt for kids age 8 and younger. Minimum age: 13. Email Alexis Blackwell or call 301-891-7100.

SSL preapproved STEM EXPO ASSISTANTS: Thursday, April 5-Sunday, April 8, various shifts 8 am-6 pm (depending upon the day), Washington. Welcome visitors and help with a variety of activities at the USA Science & Engineering Festival, the nation's largest celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math. Email Jennifer Long, call 202-459-0883, or sign up online.

NURSING HOME VISITORS: Provide a compassionate human connection to residents in local nursing homes who do not receive regular visits from family or friends. Flexible scheduling. The Visitors Project for People with Dementia--a collaborative effort of local clergy, health/social service professionals, and consultants on aging--provides training and orientation; the next session begins Sunday, March 4, 3-5 pm. Email Ken Silverstein or call 301-570-6664. 

OFFICER OF THE DAY: Aid residents in need of emergency assistance through Bethesda Help. Volunteers work at least one day a month from their homes or offices, retrieving phone messages and following up with clients and/or social workers to arrange services. Training provided. Email Tobie Bernstein or call 301-365-2022.

SSL preapproved BOOK FESTIVAL VOLUNTEERS: Help set up and run the City of Gaitherburg's annual book festival, this year set for Saturday, May 19, with a variety of volunteer shifts available between 10 am and 6 pm. Adult volunteers especially needed to manage the author pavilions, VIP lounge, information booths, and more. Training provided. Email Sheila Bouley.

COMPUTER INSTRUCTORS: Teach or co-teach basic computer literacy and keyboarding skills to members of the immigrant community. Classes are sponsored by the Charles W. Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center and are held in Wheaton, Gaithersburg, and the Briggs Chaney area of Silver Spring weekdays, evenings, and Saturday mornings, beginning in April. Training and curriculum provided. Email Anna DeNicolo or call 240-777-4944.

SSL preapproved FARM HELPERS: Assist with planting, weeding, mulching, harvesting, composting, and more at Red Wiggler Community Farm in Germantown. This nonprofit, sustainable farm provides meaningful employment for adults with disabilities, and allows them the opportunity to work alongside individuals without disabilities. Preference is for volunteers who can commit to serving 20 hours or more during the April-to-November season. Minimum age: 13. Email Katie Junghans or call 301-916-2216.
50+ Volunteer Network Update
Opportunities Available for Skilled Volunteers
The Montgomery County Volunteer Center's new 50+ Volunteer Network--which connects skilled volunteers with nonprofit and government agencies that need assistance--has a wide range of volunteer opportunities now open for anyone who is at least 50 and wants to make a significant contribution of time and talent to the community, while still retaining a flexible schedule. Here are a few:
  • Mentor a young person on life skills and career exploration
  • Read to an elementary school student on a regular basis
  • Design and manage events for a nonprofit
  • Teach a class for disabled adults
  • Serve as an intake coordinator for an emergency assistance program
  • Support callers on a mental health hotline
  • Be a hospice volunteer
  • Help students prepare for the US citizenship exam
  • Coordinate communications and media relations efforts for an anti-poverty agency
  • Assist in strategic planning for an agency that supports a diverse population of youth
  • Serve as treasurer for a nonprofit
  • Provide administrative and promotional services for a youth baseball academy

For more information, email the program coordinators

Spring Cleaning? Here Are Some Donation Ideas
If you're using the spring season as an opportunity to de-clutter your home or office, consider donating items you don't need anymore to nonprofits and government agencies in our region.

One easy way to do so is to list those items in the Volunteer Center's weekly Hotlink e-newsletter, which is sent to the 1,100-plus organizations registered with us and features information about items available for donation. Agencies that are interested in the items contact the donor directly to arrange pickup and provide a receipt for tax purposes. Donations appropriate to list on Hotlink include home and office furniture and equipment, medical devices, and craft supplies. All items must be in at least good condition. We do not list clothing, books, televisions (except flat-screen units), or food. (Read on for ideas on donating those types of items.)

To submit your donations for inclusion, send us an email with 
  • a description of the items (including condition and, as appropriate, approximate size, color, and material; we don't include photos)
  • city or town where they'll need to be picked up, and
  • contact information (email and/or phone)
The Volunteer Center is currently seeking yarn--especially acrylic yarn--for our Retired and Senior Volunteer Program's "yarners," who knit hats and other warm gear for homeless and needy families. If you have yarn to donate for these projects, email Kathleen Stobie

For items not accepted for Hotlink, or if you simply prefer to contact organizations directly, check out our compilation of local agencies that accept particular types of donations. 
Celebrate Volunteers at Montgomery Serves Awards Gala
The 2018 Montgomery Serves Awards, our county's highest honor for volunteers, will be presented at a ceremony attended by county and state dignitaries on Monday, April 23, 6:30 pm, at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. Join us that evening to help celebrate some of the most superb volunteers in our region. The event is free, but reservations are required as seating limited. Register here
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 is an encore presentation highlighting Interfaith Works, a non-sectarian coalition of congregations of diverse faiths that work together to meet the needs of the poor and homeless in Montgomery County. 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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