By Zach Friend
Recently, the Board of Supervisors recognized some of the remarkable volunteers in our county. Volunteers that dedicate thousands of hours to our local animal shelter, helping with forensics and vacation checks at the Sheriff’s Office, restoring native landscapes at our parks, working with disadvantaged youth and more.
We all know volunteering is good for our community and great for the people who receive help. Researchers have been discovering that regular volunteering – as little as two hours a week – is great for the person volunteering as well. Youth who volunteer are more likely to finish school, and less likely to engage in a whole range of troubling behaviors. Adults who volunteer are happier, healthier and live longer than those who do not.
There is no question that volunteers play an essential role in our community. But you may not be aware how to get involved. One of the best ways is through the local Volunteer Center.
Last year 15,000 of our neighbors used the information and tools from the Volunteer Center to find volunteer opportunities that fit their interests, skills and lifestyle. The Center gathers hundreds of open volunteer positions that can be searched at www.scvolunteercenter.org or you can speak with a Matchmaker to help find the right cause.
What are some of the opportunities available right now?
A quick search on the site shows a remarkable variety of opportunities, and time commitments. Some volunteer opportunities are one-time only while many are on going.
For example, in Aptos there is a need to coordinate free rides to doctor visits for seniors or play music for seniors at events or to be a foster grandparent for youth in local schools.
In Capitola, there is a need for a preschool literacy tutor, receptionist needs at a local veterans center or help at the Children’s Museum of Discovery. In Soquel, there is a need for help with transportation for cancer patients and volunteer opportunities at the Sheriff’s Office and much more.
A Story of your Neighbors
Ron and Jim have been Aptos neighbors, friends, workout partners and volunteers together for over 13 years. Together they have installed over 500 grab bars and given well beyond 2,200 hours of service to low-income seniors who need home repairs and modifications in order to remain safe in their homes.
Ron started out as a board member for the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County. After he retired, he knew he wanted to continue to contribute to the mission of the Volunteer Center and found a perfect match with Helping Hands. Ron eventually recruited Jim to volunteer on days he was not involved with Kiwanis Club projects.
They both love meeting and helping people. Jim told us when he visits the homes of seniors in need, “I can see where they need the help and know that they can’t afford the repairs. It feels good to be able to help them out.”
“I think there’s a lot of people out there that want to do something to benefit other people but they don’t know how to get involved in the community. I tell people about what I do and let them decide if they want to get involved.
Ron went on to say that, “The Volunteer Center has a whole range of programs that will suit just about everyone. It’s kind of nice they are all under one umbrella.” He invites anyone who is interested in volunteering to check out all the opportunities through the Volunteer Center.
Jim says with a smile, “Between all of us, we can do a little bit to help make our community a better place.”
Volunteering plays an essential role in our community. If you’d like to learn more you can always call me at 454-2200 or visit the Volunteer Center website at www.scvolunteercenter.org.