Doris Higgins: Volunteer Day brings 15 organizations to fair

Published 9:26 am Tuesday, August 11, 2009

• Interested in volunteering, but not sure with whom? Would you like the opportunity to check out at least 15 organizations all at one time?  Come to Volunteer Day at the Berrien County Youth Fair in Berrien Springs on Aug. 20 noon to 4 p.m. and talk to agency representatives about community needs and how you can make a difference.  Music and entertainment will be part of the fun. You will still have time to ride the rides and see the animals.

• Do you have one lunch hour a week that you could share with a child in your work community? Have you thought about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister but were not sure how to get started?Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass is welcoming new Bigs to its Lunch Buddy programs in communities throughout southwest Michigan.  The volunteer mentors for Eastside School in Niles say it is a unique opportunity to work together to provide friendship and support to children between 6 and 12 who welcome the connection. There is no age limit for mentoring!

• The Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph will hold a volunteer orientation in September for the new members of their Welcoming Team.  The Welcoming Team provides assistance and directions to the public as they enter the building. Citizens come to the Courthouse for jury duty, marriages, will and estates, adoption hearings along with court hearings and it is often their first time in the building. They are looking for out going and friendly adults with at least eight hours to give each month.

• The stores are right … it is time to start thinking back to school. Van Buren Intermediate School District wants to make sure students in Van Buren County have a backpack and school supplies to start the year off right. On Tuesday, Aug. 25 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. they will be distributing backpacks at the Tech Center in Lawrence.  You can help at the event by dispensing the numbered tickets to those receiving backpacks or by handing out water at the event.  Other volunteer opportunities are also available.
• Bust the Barriers to homelessness and connect people in need of services with agencies who provide those services all in one place on Aug. 26 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Project Homeless Connect at the First Presbyterian Church located at 13th S. 4th St. in Niles.

Have you saved a life today?  Donate blood and you will!

Tuesday, Aug. 18 – St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 219 S. State, Niles: noon to 5:45 p.m.
For a complete listing visit

Wednesday, Aug. 19 – Berrien County Youth Fair, USA Building, Berrien Springs: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m

Wednesday, Aug. 19 – Lakeland Community Hospital, Niles: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thurs. Aug. 20 – Berrien County Youth Fair, USA Building, Berrien Springs: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m

When you give blood between May 26 – Sept. 8 you will be registered to win one of three trips either to Las Vegas or Little River Casino and Resort. For a complete listing visit

• Michigan’s Flywheeler Museum is dedicated to promoting educational interest in American farming history. Located in Bangor, you can volunteer at the 26th annual Antique Engine and Tractor Show, on Sept. 10 -13 assisting with the food, crafts, games or displays.

• August is the month when families begin to think about school starting again. Keep an eye open for those great sales on school supplies and purchase extra to pass on to the children staying in a shelter or to give to an organization serving children. Did your children grow over the summer and so it is time to clean out the closets and purchase new clothes? Bring your used items to a resale shop near you.

• Build your leadership skills by serving on the Youth Advisory Panel for the Volunteer Center. The monthly meetings will be held in the  evening. Participants can be in elementary, middle school, and high school, ages 9-18. The panel will be responsible for developing, deciding, and promoting volunteer projects for youth involvement throughout the school year and summer.

To connect with any of these volunteer opportunities, call the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan in Niles at (269) 683-5464.

Doris Higgins is the executive director of the Volunteer Center.