Doris HigginsIn cooperation with the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan, this column will publish opportunities for volunteers each week.   To find out about these or other volunteer opportunities, please call 983-0912 in the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor area, 683-5464 in the Niles area; visit our Web site at; or e-mail us at for further information.  To arrange an appointment, please call ahead. Appointments do not constitute an obligation to accept a volunteer opportunity.  The center is a United Way partner agency.

Archived Story

Doris Higgins: Plenty of volunteer opportunities available in southwest Michigan

Published 12:03pm Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spotlight of the Week

o A local mom visited the Volunteer Center in 2008. She wanted to have a special project that her family could lead each year and contribute in a meaningful way to the community. Thanks to Jen’s leadership and help from her husband and young children, other volunteers and area businesses, the program grew to 350 Easter baskets in 2009.  These baskets were created for all the children in the foster care system and for children staying at local shelters in Berrien County.

You and your family can join Jen’s family and be Easter bunny assistants when you run your own drive to collect items for the baskets. Set up your drive at your school, house of worship, place of employment, business or other approved location.  Contact the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan to learn all the details and receive your publicity materials.  This project meant so much to kids in foster care and to kids in shelters last year! This project qualifies for the Give A Day Get a Day Disney program.  Visit for more information.

• Community Day at Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor is March 6th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.  Stop by the Community Room to do hands on projects appropriate for all ages with the Volunteer Center. You can create cards for fellow volunteers, make decorations for the annual recognition luncheon for community volunteers and participate in other activities.  This qualifies for Disney’s Give a Day Get a Day. Visit or more information.

• Have you ever heard of having a spa day for horses?  Well these aren’t just any horses, but the hardworking horses at Therapeutic Equestrian Center that enrich the lives of people with special needs. As Horse Spa Day coordinator you would organize the spa day and oversee the event several times a year.

• Every day the Red Cross makes a difference internationally and here at home. The Berrien Red Cross would like you to be their special events volunteer. Help with multiple tasks including mailings, data entry, equipment set up and take down, handing out flyers, etc. Remember wherever you live there is a local Red Cross Chapter that would love to have you contact them about being trained as a disaster preparedness volunteer. Work happens all year long so we as a community are prepared for the next house fire, the next ice storm, the next tornado or the next earthquake.

• What are you doing next Thursday? As a Thursday Crew volunteer, you can help build homes with Harbor Habitat for Humanity in Benton Harbor.

• Girls on the Run and Girls on Track works with girls in grades 3-8 offering an experiential learning program that combines training for a 3.1-mile running event with self-esteem enhancing, uplifting workouts. Coaches are needed at many locations throughout Berrien County. You will work as part of a team and will be provided with detailed lesson plans and the necessary materials. You do not need to be a runner; the only requirement is enthusiasm and a commitment to the healthy development of young girls.  Teams meet twice a week for 90 minutes after school – a small commitment with big rewards. Be a part of helping girls experience positive emotional, social and physical development.

• Are you a mentor? Stop by either Volunteer Center office (St. Joseph or Niles) to pick up your free roll of Mentos. Enjoy these Mentos as our thank you for mentoring.  We encourage you to share your Mentos with others and tell them about why you mentor.  Area agencies still have a great need for additional mentors and you can help tell others about this need. You can also agree to be interviewed for print or YouTube stories on mentoring. You can also request materials to post at your work place, library, house of worship or other location to encourage others to become mentors in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties. Help find others like you ready to be a mentor!

Roses are red, violets are blue, your blood is both so donate today!

Berrien County Chapter of the American Red Cross
o Thursday, Feb. 25 – Andrews University, 400 University Blvd., Berrien Springs, 9 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.
For a complete listing visit

Michigan Blood (formerly known as Michigan Community Blood Centers)
Wednesday, Feb. 24 – Lake Michigan College-Bertrand Crossing, Student Center, 1905 Foundation Drive, Niles, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For a complete listing visit

Adult and youth
• Emergency Shelter in Benton Harbor offers monthly meetings to encourage and support current and former clients of the homeless shelter with adults and children meeting separately. This is a special time for continuing education and encouragement. Meetings are in the evening on the last Wednesday of the month. Be a F.R.I.E.N.D.S supporter and contact them about how you can help.

• Become an advocate for youth volunteering at your high school. Construct a plan and work in partnership with a faculty advisor, Youth volunteer coordinator at the Volunteer Center, fellow students and area nonprofits. Help inform students about volunteer opportunities and if you are interested you can even create new volunteer opportunities for you and your classmates.

• Youth volunteers will engage senior residents of Lakeland Continuing Care in St. Joseph in a variety of organized activities with a team leader on the first Saturday of each month, beginning Saturday, March 6 from 2 to 3:30 p.m.  Volunteers should arrive 10 minutes early for instructions. Contact the Volunteer Center to learn more.

By using this website’s user-contribution features, including comments, photo galleries, or any other feature, you agree to abide by the terms of use. Please read this agreement in its entirety because it contains useful information that will help you better understand the rules and general "good manners" that are expected when contributing content to this website.

Editor's Picks