Doris Higgins: Help abuse victims via phonePublished 9:49pm Monday, January 10, 2011
In cooperation with the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan, the Niles Daily Star 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 website at www.volunteerswmi.org; or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 agency.
Spotlight of the Week
Are you a friendly person who would like a volunteer opportunity for February and March only? Why not consider being a greeter for the Earned Income Tax Coalition at a site near you? Working families come to various sites throughout southwest Michigan for free help with their taxes and you can be the first friendly face they see. No special training required. Contact the Volunteer Center or United Way of Southwest Michigan or United Way of Van Buren County for more information.
• When families struggle the level of domestic violence is impacted. You can be part of the solution by volunteering as a crisis line operator for Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services. You will provide telephone crisis intervention, support and information to domestic violence survivors. You should have empathic listening skills, and be ready to respond to emergency situations over the phone. You also need the ability to deliver services in a non-judgmental manner. Extensive training is provided and a criminal background check is required.
• The Museum at Southwestern Michigan College collects and preserves artifacts related to the history of the college district and interprets this history through exhibits, school tours and programs. The first person visitors meet is the friendly volunteer at the front desk who can answer their general questions. The volunteer schedule is flexible.
• Who mentored you? Why not honor their memory by encouraging others to become mentors? You can request materials to post at your work place, library, house of worship or other location to become mentors. We have posters and a booklet of mentoring opportunities. Our children need mentors!
• Benton Harbor Street Ministries serves youth kindergarten through ninth grade in an after-school programs. They teach crafts, cooking, chess or other activities to a small group and/or help with homework 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. You can also choose to tutor an individual adult or small group in GED math, writing, reading, social studies, or science at least one day a week, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There is a Big Brother Big Sister program in your community where you live and work. Commit to spending one hour a week with a child and change two lives — theirs and yours.
• Have you ever thought about how adults can benefit from mentoring, too? Whether you help an adult struggling with literacy or act as a friend to a woman affected by domestic violence, you can make a difference in that person’s life. Cass County Jail has a special program to help inmates re-enter society, Navigators. Navigators’ volunteers help men and women while they are still in jail and then offer support for at least a month following their release. Training and a comprehensive planning workbook to use in sessions with inmates is provided.
• If every person who donates blood once a year recruited one person to donate once a year, blood shortages could be a thing of the past! Recruit a friend to donate blood today!
Berrien County Chapter of the American Red Cross
For a complete listing, visit www.berrienredcross.org.
• Saturday — Hunter Ice Festival, Blood Bus 210 East Main St., Niles, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Wednesday, Jan, 19 — Lakeshore Middle School, Library, 1459 John Beers, Stevensville, noon to 7 p.m.
For a complete listing, visit www.miblood.org.
Adults and youth
Are you off work on Martin Luther King Day? Would you like to be part of an effort to honor his memory and promote volunteerism? The Volunteer Center in partnership with the Niles/Buchanan YMCA and St. Joseph/Benton Harbor YMCA will have tables set up so people can stop and make happy cards for seniors receiving Meals on Wheels from Senior Nutrition. This is a simple project that really brightens a homebound person’s day. You will invite people to stop by the booth and tell them about the project. You will also keep the area picked up and supplies organized. Time slots are available from early in the morning until the evening.
“Need knows no season.” Do you wish you had adopted a family over the holidays, contributed to Toys for Tots, served a holiday dinner at the homeless shelter or given food to the local food bank? You are in luck, because you can still do all those things 365 days a year. Food banks need their shelves restocked, families face hard economic times and volunteers are needed all year long. Visit www.volunteerswmi.org for hundreds of ideas on how you can make a difference today and throughout 2011. Whether you are looking for a one time event to give a few hours to, a regular volunteer commitment or some place to donate to, the Volunteer Center can be your connection. Call 983-0912 in St. Joseph or 683-5464 in Niles to learn about opportunities throughout Berrien, Cass and VanBuren counties.
As you put away new Christmas toys, games, books and clothes, why not sort through your closet and look for items to donate? Donate your items to your local thrift shop (there are at least six in our area) that uses the funds generated to support their programs. For example, Goodwill Industries provides employment training and helps people develop their job skills.