You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

 --Jane Goodall, activist and scientist
APRIL 2017
In This Issue
This Earth Month, Volunteer for the Environment

Earth Month What began in 1970 as Earth Day, a single day devoted to environmental policy reform, is now Earth Month, encompassing four weeks of environmental awareness and activities aimed at improving our planet, including lots of volunteer opportunities.

In fact, there are local environmental volunteer projects every weekend throughout April. For instance, a huge region-wide Potomac River watershed cleanup kicks off Saturday, April 8 (and continues into the month), and needs thousands of volunteers to help pick up trash. If gardening is more of your thing, planting and weeding volunteers are needed for projects such as a Triadelphia Reservoir cleanup/tree planting on April 8 in Brookeville, removal of invasive species along Sangamore Road in Bethesda on Saturday, April 15, and planting of perennials at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton on Sunday, April 23.  

These are just a sampling of the dozens of Earth Month volunteer opportunities available. To find more, check out the April calendar or this compilation of environment-focused activities on the Volunteer Center website. 
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Volunteer Coaches Help Bring Sports to Immigrant and Low-Income Youth

Playing organized sports offers young people a wide range of benefits, but many of our county's low-income and immigrant youth face barriers to participation, including cost, travel, and language/culture. Eliminating these barriers and bridging the sports opportunity gap is the aim of the sports arm of Impact Silver Spring, a local community-building nonprofit that connects residents of diverse backgrounds to safety net services and other community resources.

By offering low-cost or free school-based sports programs in neighborhoods where young people are typically disconnected from local athletic leagues, and by employing multicultural and multilingual staff and volunteers to run these programs, Impact Silver Spring has helped to level the playing field. In fact, approximately 75 percent of the kids involved in the organization's sports program had never played organized sports before.

Looking ahead, Impact Silver Spring hopes to further increase the quantity and quality of its recreational and competitive sports programs, and seeks committed volunteer coaches who are passionate about teaching valuable life lessons through sports. The nonprofit is now recruiting assistant soccer coaches and assistant basketball coaches for weekday after-school elementary-age programs, primarily in Wheaton and Long Branch neighborhoods. Training is provided (soccer coaches will be asked to complete US Soccer F License training). Volunteers are expected to handle themselves in a clear, committed, and professional manner with both the staff and the kids, and must commit to helping at least once or twice a week throughout the spring season. Minimum age is 14, and volunteer coaching is pre-approved for MCPS student service learning credits. Volunteers with Spanish-speaking skills are particularly needed.

Volunteer coaches find that they benefit along with their players. This can include increasing skills/knowledge about sports, improving organizational experience, feeling good about having a positive impact on the lives of kids, providing a positive adult presence, and finding a sense of accomplishment in seeing the kids grow and develop over the course of a season. Coaching can also be a way to get or stay in shape and to practice what you preach as you model the behaviors you want the kids to do. As one volunteer coach recently noted, "It's not just about training the kids to be excellent players; it's also about training them to impact the world around them and make a difference in their lives, family, and society."

To learn more about how to get involved with Impact's sports programs, email Damian Popkin.
Volunteer Season Kicks Into Gear
In addition to the many Earth Month volunteer activities linked at the top of this newsletter, there are many other ways to help our community in April and beyond. Here are just a few of the hundreds of opportunities listed on the Volunteer Center's website. Check our calendar for more date-specific opportunities and our newest listings for those posted most recently. Or use the red box on our home page or at the top of this email to search for more opportunities by keyword, location, organization, or more. 
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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 Icon "Eye Spy" Train Assistants: Saturday, April 8, through Sunday, April 16 (spring break), plus Saturdays and Sundays, April 22, 23, 29, and 30, 9:45 am-2 pm or 1:30-6 pm, Wheaton and Rockville. Greet guests at Montgomery Parks's miniature train rides at Wheaton Regional and Cabin John parks and hand out crayons and "eye spy" worksheets. Minimum age: 12; those under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.  Volunteers must sign up by Friday at 5 pm to help with that weekend's shifts. Activities will be canceled if the tracks are wet. Register online for Cabin John, register online for Wheaton, email Lynn Vismara, or call 301-495-2504.

SSL Icon Playground Restoration Crew: Saturday, April 22, 9 am-2 pm, Silver Spring. Help make the playground at a Montgomery Housing Partnership apartment complex more inviting for the children who live there. Volunteers will pressure wash equipment, paint, and plant greenery. Email Sabrina Williams or call 301-812-4138.

SSL Icon Rockville Science Day Volunteers: Saturday, April 22, 4-6 pm, and Sunday, April 23, 8 am-6 pm. Set up, work with exhibitors, assist visitors, and clean up for this annual family-friendly event sponsored by the Rockville Science Center. Student and adult volunteers welcome. Sign up online for a shift, email Leah Brown, or call 240-506-8468.

SSL Icon "Paws in the Park" Event Assistants: Sunday, April 23, 9 am-5 pm, Gaithersburg. Assist attendees and their dogs, set up event activities, assist with games and contests, and help with cleanup at this annual fundraiser for the Montgomery County Humane Society. Minimum age: 15. Email Kathy Dillon or call 240-252-2555.

SSL Icon Fun Fest Volunteers: Saturday, April 29, 9 am-3 pm, Bethesda. Set up, plan, and participate in arts & crafts and field day activities with foster children attending this event sponsored by the Leaders Institute. Volunteer orientation on Saturday, April 22, 11 am-12 noon. Email Patricia Biggs.

SSL Icon Agricultural History Interpreters & Program Helpers: Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30, Derwood. Serve as a costumed living history interpreter or as a non-costumed volunteer helping with hands-on activities, visitor assistance, and other tasks for "Sowing the Seeds of Victory: Montgomery County Farms During World War I," a new program of Montgomery Parks. Email Lynn Vismara or call  301-495-2504.

"Heart's Delight" Event Assistants: Saturday, May 13, shifts available between 9:30 am and 12 midnight, Washington. Greet guests, assist with seminars and registration, manage food and wine stations, record and monitor auction bids, set up, or clean up for the American Heart Association's annual wine tasting and auction fundraiser. Minimum age for all activities except setup: 21. Sign up online or email Joellen Brassfield.

Hospice Phone Support Providers: Be available for people at a challenging time in their lives by covering the phone lines for the  Jewish Social Service Agency's hospice program during weekends in Rockville. Minimum age: 18. Reference and background check required.  Email Elana Premack Sandler or call 301-610-8395. 

SSL Icon Clothing Center Workers: Sort and organize donations, assist clients, greet donors, or help with other needs as assigned at Interfaith Works's clothing center in Rockville. Minimum age: 14; volunteers under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Sign up online or email Yvonne Esipila.

Health Eating Assistants : Support a registered nurse with managing the healthy foods/wellness program for Cornerstone Montgomery  in Bethesda. Assist with office tasks as well as bi-weekly cooking classes at the organization's supportive living houses for individuals with mental health disorders. Minimum age: 18. Email Kady Fulwood or call 202-491-5236.

Reading and Health Volunteers: Engage children in literacy and health activities while they (and their parents) are in Department of Health and Human Services waiting rooms in Germantown, Rockville, and Silver Spring. Volunteers with the JCA Heyman Interages Center read with children, talk about shapes/colors/numbers, discuss healthy eating, draw/color, and more. All materials provided. Minimum age: 50. Requires at least a two-hour weekly commitment. Email Bonnie Leko-Shapiro or call 301-255-4239.
Summer Camps Now Recruiting Counselors

Teens: Do you have plans for the summer? Interested in volunteering as a camp counselor to help other youth, practice leadership and teaching skills, and have fun, all while potentially earning student service learning hours?

Summer camps run by nonprofits and local governments are now recruiting volunteer counselors and counselors in training! You can find many of them with this search for the keyword camp on the Volunteer Center website. Here are a few:

SSL Icon Therapeutic Recreation Program Counselors & Assistants: H elp children with disabilities participate in summer camps, clinics, and fun center activities  organized by  Montgomery County's Therapeutic Recreation program Locations throughout the county, from Bethesda to Ashton and Germantown to Silver Spring.   Volunteers must commit to helping for at least one week between June 26 and Aug. 18. Minimum age: 14. Training is required. Email Marco D'Ottavi or call 240-777-6891.

SSL Icon Special Needs Summer Program Volunteers: Assist with arts and crafts and other activities  that support the speech-language, occupational therapy, and learning enrichment summer camps at the Treatment and Learning Centers in Rockville. Volunteers can choose from half-day or full-day shifts and must work at least 10 days (not necessarily consecutive) between June 26 and Sept. 1. Minimum age: 16. Download the application, email Jacque Braunstein, or call 301-424-5200 x6928.

SSL Icon Bike Camp "Spotters": Help a disabled individual learn to ride a two-wheel bike through the iCan Shine program organized by the city of Takoma Park, June 26-30. Volunteers will work with the same camper, during the same 75-minute time period, for the five days of camp, running alongside the bike and encouraging the rider by cheering and offering instructions. Choose from five 90-minute daily shifts (includes 15 minutes of training and debriefing every day). Minimum age: 16. Email Lucy Neher or call 301-891-7235.

Gala Honors Service to the Community

Celebrate the accomplishments and hear the inspiring stories of some of our county's most amazing volunteers and community leaders at the Montgomery Serves Awards ceremony, Monday, April 24, 6:30 pm, at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. The event is free, but reservations are required as seating is limited. Register here

Congratulations to this year's honorees, who represent just a fraction of the many ways Montgomery County residents serve the community:
  • Miriam Kelty (Neal Potter Path of Achievement Award, for lifetime service by residents age 60 and up), who has dedicated decades of service toward the advancement of healthy aging, ethics in science, and the advancement of sciences
  • Marilyn Simonds (Neal Potter Path of Achievement Award, for lifetime service by residents age 60 and up), a long-term volunteer leader with several organizations, particularly Olney Help, which is dedicated to distributing food to needy families (and where she served for nearly 30 years)
  • Jeremy Lichtenstein (Volunteer of the Year), who established Kids In Need Distributors to deliver food items to needy children to sustain them on days when they are not in school
  • Anjali Kalra (Youth Volunteer of the Year), a Poolesville High School junior who created a summer camp for children residing at the Stepping Stones Shelter
  • Court Watch Montgomery Monitors (Volunteer Group of the Year), who serve as the "public eye" in local domestic violence cases in an aim to help improve services and protection for victims
  • Deloitte (Corporate Volunteer of the Year), whose local employees mentor at-risk boys and young men in YMCA Youth & Family Services' Youth Links program
County Executive Ike Leggett will also present the Roscoe R. Nix Distinguished Community Leadership Award to three individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to Montgomery County over the course of their lives:
  • Mark Bergel, founder of A Wider Circle, which provides basic necessities, workforce readiness training, and long-term wrap-around support for local residents in need
  • Sol Graham, a business leader who mentors youth and has established scholarships at Montgomery College to assist students studying business, science, and technology
  • Vivien Hsueh, who founded the Chinese American Senior Services Association to combat isolation among immigrant Chinese seniors 
 Forum Offers Ideas for Senior Volunteerism

Learn ways for seniors to volunteer and get involved in civic affairs at a county forum set for Friday, April 7, 9:30 am, at the Rockville Senior Center. The event--hosted by Montgomery County Councilmember Sidney Katz--will also cover information on how to prevent senior scams and stop elder abuse, as well as a resource fair featuring a variety of organizations that provide services to seniors.  Speakers will include Gretchen Zekiel of the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, Eric Friedman of the county's Office of Consumer Protection, and John McCarthy, the state's attorney for Montgomery County.

For more information, view the event flyer, call 240-777-7817, or email Lindsay Hoffman.
Donate Food, Ride Free

Donate nonperishable food for those who are hungry and get a free bus trip during Montgomery County Ride On's annual "Give and Ride" week, running April 23-29. Throughout the week, all Ride On buses will have food collection bags near their fare boxes. Passengers who deposit a food donation in the bag ride free. (Transfers and return trips require additional food donations for a free ride.)

All food collected will be donated to Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg in support of its Smart Sacks program, which helps provide nourishment for local children and families on weekends and other times when school-sponsored meals are not available.

View suggested donation items 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. Watch it online 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 these activities. 

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