Columnist: Volunteer Center could use some help too

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, July 14, 2009

• The Volunteer Center works every day to connect volunteers to other nonprofit organizations. We need volunteers too! Don’t have a lot of time? That’s ok you can help by coming out on Saturday, Aug. 1 for a shift between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Steelhead Triathlon. You will help run the aid stations, pass out water and food or other needed tasks. Groups and families are welcome. Identify yourself as a Volunteer Center volunteer and help us earn $200 if we have 15 volunteers and $400 if we have 30. Please call the Volunteer Center to register.
• Be the go to person in the Bridgman area when you volunteer at the
Bridgman Chamber of Commerce as their office assistant. You will answer the phone and direct callers to the appropriate agency or department.  Office is open Monday ˆ Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Supervise children in the Children’s Corner at the Van Buren Department of Human Services in Hartford while parents are meeting with workers. This includes engaging children in simple games, crafts, storytelling, watching videos and other similar activities. Times are flexible and can be adjusted to meet your availability.
• Do you have experience in Excel spreadsheets, good typing skills and
some previous experience working in an office setting? Berrien County
Trial Court – Family Division is seeking an office assistant to help with various duties including data entry and filing paperwork. Volunteer hours are flexible.
• Bridges to Digital Excellence puts computers into the homes of Southwest Michigan families with school aged children. You can help make sure that happens by volunteering as their marketing/advertising guru. Get the word out about what they have to offer so they can make sure that every child has a computer in the home. Great for the experienced professional or as a resume builder for a college student.
• Are you considering being a mentor? Would you like the chance to learn more about how you can be the caring adult that helps a child be
successful in school, in relationships and in life? The Mentoring Collaborative and the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan are pleased to offer current and potential mentors a chance to come together and learn and share their experiences. Mentoring Today‚s Youth on July 29 noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Volunteer Center at 210 E. Main St. in Niles will explore communication skills, setting boundaries, and cultural sensitivity.  Trainings are free and snacks will be provided. RSVPs are requested, but not required.
• Maybe the grass really is greener on the other side! Come be a part of
“Sod Day” on Wednesday, Aug. 19 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Crystal Estates in Benton Harbor. This Harbor Habitat for Humanity project will be laying sod for the new development. Come volunteer along side the hard working individuals that are thrilled about having their very own home. Water and lunch provided. Project will happen rain or shine so dress for the weather and physical work.
• Gateway improves the life and level of independence of individuals with disabilities. Their softball fundraiser is a lot of fun and you can be part of it. You can help with kids‚ activities, parking control, or serve snowcones. The event is Friday, July 24 from 1 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, July 25 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
• Hospice at Home volunteers can assist those caring for their loved ones at home by providing caregiver support. Visit with a patient at their home while their caregiver runs errands, enjoys time on their own, or just takes a much needed nap. Training is provided and opportunities are available in Buchanan/Niles, St. Joseph and South Haven.
• Are you interested in the criminal justice system? You can serve on a Community Restorative Board in your neighborhood. Sponsored by local court systems, first time youth offenders are given the chance to take responsibility for their actions, right the wrongs they have committed and not have a court record.
• Summer means camp time and there is sure to be a camp going on near you. Whether at your local library, museum, school, YMCA or at an official camp they are sure to welcome your help. Others would welcome donated supplies. Do you and/or your child have a special talent? You might be able to share that as well.
• Child and Family Services is bringing the national “Safe Place” program to Berrien County as part of the LINK. Twenty youth aged 9 to 17 are invited to be part of a focus group  to review a radio ad, discuss plans for next year and provide program input on Aug. 11 from noon to 2 p.m.

Doris Higgins is the executive director of the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan. Reach her at:, 210 Main St., Suite 237, 605 Pleasant St., Niles, MI 49120. Call 683-5464, or visit