April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, and our White River Branch is having its annual Volunteer Opportunity Fair April 28 from 11a.m.- 1 p.m. There, you can connect with community groups that need your help. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment and can provide you valuable job experience, social connections and service hours and experience to highlight on resumes and college applications.

Many of these organizations need office assistance and even graphic designers or other positions with special skills. And, don't forget that volunteering for special events gives you the chance to attend for free! Finding your perfect match is so rewarding and can be so much fun.

United Way Community Partners: A good place to start looking for volunteer openings is the United Way of Johnson County. They not only have positions for their organizations, but also for over 40 of their partners. Some of them even have internships available to gain valuable work experiences. Organizations such as Gateway Services, Meals on Wheels, Head Start, the YMCA, Scouts and Big Brothers/Big Sisters all need to fill various positions.

Work with Kids: Girls on the Run needs coaches and Running Buddies for their 5K, where you can get paired with a girl to run with her, or to coach a group. Art With a Heart needs people to assist with art programs (no skills necessary!) Local Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers/Big Sisters always have opportunities available. Youth Connections has needs for Jumpstart mentors that meet with at risk kids during their lunch periods.

Work with Animals: Animal lovers can help in many ways. From fostering pets until they find their forever home, to assisting with adoption events and more. There are rescues for every type of pet you can imagine from small pets and birds to mastiff sized dogs. Petfinder is a great place to start to find listings of many of the local animal rescues.

Religious Organizations: Many local churches provide resources for those in need. The Interchurch Food Pantry uses volunteers to sort and distribute food donations. The Refuge also needs volunteers to help with their food and clothing pantry.

Caregiving: Senior Centers such as The Social of Greenwood and The Active Adult Center always need people to help with special events, food service and more. Some agencies like Johnson County Senior Services need drivers to transport residents who can no longer drive. Hospitals often need volunteers to visit with patients or to provide respite care for caregivers. These opportunities are always rewarding and there are many openings. Check with your local hospital for more information.

Tutoring: Tutors are needed both for kids and adult learners. Franklin Education Foundation pairs volunteers with students for their Study Buddies program. Even if you don’t remember your middle school math, you can still be a tutor! The program provides you with training. The Adult Learning Center at the library pairs tutors with adult learners to teach basic reading skills or English as a Second Language with a mix of lessons and informal conversation.

Our community groups have so many needs that once you start looking you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find!

Amy is a librarian at the White River Branch. At heart, she is an adventuress who loves to try and learn new things with family and friends…even if she ends up an epic failure. Having fun while doing good for others makes for the best adventures. So look for Amy shopping at thrift stores, running for a cause or eating and drinking at fundraisers!

Join the conversation at amy@jcplin.org 

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