DARKE COUNTY — There are hundreds of opportunities to volunteer in Darke County; one might volunteer with the Wayne Hospital Auxiliary, at a long-term care facility, with the local chapter of the American Red Cross, at a local park or anywhere in between.
“The volunteer experience is centered on the individual,” said Lynne Gump, executive director of the Darke County chapter of the American Red Cross. “Do you have 20 hours a month, or a week, to give? Do you want to learn a new skill, network or gain expertise? … Volunteer jobs (with the Red Cross) range from responding to local disasters, to teaching children about handwashing; from visiting veterans in assisted living facilities, to teaching life-saving skills; from sharing preparedness information to doing special events; from monitoring and posting on social media, to staffing the office.”
Gump said that volunteering is a “wonderful benefit to your community,” but it also “literally makes you a better person.” Volunteering is an opportunity not only to make a difference, it’s an opportunity to meet new friends, learn teamwork, lower stress levels, spend time with family and much more, Gump said.
Many citizens who have reached retirement age choose to volunteer as a way to fill their time and to make themselves feel as if they’re contributing to their communities; and younger generations are also being encouraged to “be the change” and volunteer in their communities through programs such as the Big Buddies after school mentoring program through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, a Darke County United Way partner.
With 23 partnering organizations, the United Way is a great resource for finding volunteer opportunities; along with that, the Darke County Volunteer Network brings together those who lead and organize volunteers to come up with ideas for recruitment and appreciation.
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), through Council on Rural Services (CORS), offers opportunities for retired and senior citizens to work within the community to build a better future for those they help. Some of their placements for those aged 55 and older include the Back Pack Program, area retirement communities and the Darke County Parks District.
The Darke County Parks District has many opportunities to volunteer, for people of all ages, explained Laura Schweiterman, volunteer coordinator.
“Volunteering with the Darke County Parks is a lot of fun since we have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities both inside and outdoors,” Schweiterman said.
Some volunteer opportunities consist of adopting- a-park, gardening, special events, maintenance and helping at the reception desk. The Darke County Parks also offer monthly preschool, Park Pals and Jr. Naturalist programs, along with school programs, and they are in need of volunteer assistance to assist the children with activities, crafts and nature hikes.
“If you enjoy history, you could volunteer by hosting the Log House, Council House or working around the forge in the Blacksmith Shop,” Schweiterman said. “While volunteering at the Park District, you are able to work closely with park staff and other park volunteers. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and to learn something new that you might have never done before. Even if you only have a couple ‘free’ hours a year to volunteer, you are still able to join the Parks volunteer family.”
To recognize those who spend their time making a different in the community, The Daily Advocate is starting a monthly feature for outstanding volunteers. To nominate a volunteer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.