Be a bicycle safety trainer for Planning Commission

Published 3:00 am Friday, October 29, 2010

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.volunteers; 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 agency.

Spotlight Agencies of the Week

Do you love the song “Bicycle, Bicycle” by Queen? The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission has a position for you!  As a bicycle safety trainer you will assist with safety promotions including photo or video documenting of bike safety events; distributing materials; creating promotional materials; or attending community festivals to promote bicycle safety. Other activities are available as well. So why not grab a couple biker buddies and consider making this a team effort?


• Would you like to be a Handy Helper? Cass County Council on Aging invites you to help make seniors’ homes safer. Do simple repairs and installations such as grab bars, railings, non skid tape and smoke detectors.  Doing weatherization and building wheel chair ramps is also a big need. If you are Mr. (or Mrs.) Fix–it or have some carpentry experience your skills are highly sought after. Licensed electricians or plumbers are also in demand. Days and times are flexible.

• Blue Star Mothers is a national group with local chapters that promote family and friend support to those serving in the military. This is an activity your whole family can participate in. Make cards, draw pictures, write letters and the Blue Star Mothers will deliver them to our soldiers. They are also collecting items to send overseas and on Nov. 6 will host a Christmas Open House at Michigan Lutheran High School so you can drop off items. Suggested items include: DVDs, white cotton socks, small cans of fruit, beef jerky, foot and body powder, gum, mints, and Santa hats. If you can’t make it to the Nov. 6 event, you can drop off items at either Volunteer Center office in downtown St. Joseph or downtown Niles by Nov. 4 and we will take it to the event for you!

• It’s that time of the year when some of our lucky friends and neighbors head south for the winter.  Some of these snow birds volunteer to drive for local organizations like veterans, senior nutrition, senior centers and CARES. Your skills as a driver are in demand! Contact the Volunteer Center to explore which driving opportunity is right for you. We’ll even let you take the summer off when the snow birds return.

• Work with Afterschool Rocks at Berrien Springs High School to organize service learning opportunities for teens grades 9-12. Work with the Volunteer Center staff to plan and lead the activities. This is a great opportunity for someone studying to be a teacher or anyone that feels passionately about developing civic engagement in our youth!

• Has hospice made a difference to someone you know? There are several area hospice programs that would love to talk to you about how you can make a difference. Especially needed are volunteers willing to provide respite care. Training is provided. Contact the Volunteer Center to learn more about what is involved.

• No it’s not tax time yet, but volunteers interested in putting money back in the pockets of low income families need to start signing up now for training. The Earned Income Tax Coalition is a group of agencies and individuals who know what a difference this project can make. There are volunteer sites all over southwest Michigan and volunteer opportunities for those who do not want to actually do taxes but want to help in other ways. Contact the Volunteer Center to learn more details and receive a referral to your local site.

• The Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven is dedicated to the preservation of Michigan Great Lakes waterways, maritime history and culture. They have a new opportunity for a volunteer grant writer to work with their grant and development committee. Potential volunteers should have knowledge of the nonprofit grant application process, excellent research and writing skills, and be willing to volunteer about eight hours a month.  They also have opportunities for docent tour guides.

Blood saves lives.  Donate today!

Berrien County Chapter of the American Red Cross

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Michigan Blood

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Adult and youth

• Gateway improves the life and level of independence of individuals with disabilities.   You can volunteer to help at planned activities and meet some really cool people. Activities happen Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. If you are crafty that helps, but is not required.

• There is a unique opportunity to help as an audio visual volunteer with the Michigan Flywheelers Museum in Bangor. They are dedicated to promoting educational interest in American farming history. As a volunteer you will set up digital audio/visual equipment for the museum’s displays. Hours are flexible.


• Family Volunteerism is possible with even the youngest family members. Look for ways to get them involved in helping others. Make a card for someone, rake a neighbors yard, make someone cookies…you can talk about community issues with your kids and instill in them the value of helping others.  Celebrate community by volunteering.

• Family Volunteer Day is Saturday, Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. at the Cass District Library in Cassopolis. Come with kids or come by yourself. Participate in more than six volunteer activities such as making cat toys for the shelter, write a card for the troops, etc.