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Agencies long for volunteers

March 18, 2002|BY ANDREA ROWLAND

Washington County agencies that offer services ranging from affordable medical care to shelter for abused women face a need for volunteers that seems to far out-number people willing to donate their time.

Twenty-one boys bide their time on a waiting list at Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Washington County because qualified local men haven't come forward to volunteer as Big Brothers, case work supervisor Crystal Davis said.

Some of the boys have been waiting several years for an older male to accept the challenge, Davis said.

"We're always looking for volunteers" at the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, unit Director Harry Browning said.

The Boys & Girls Club serves about 200 children daily at locations on Pennsylvania Avenue and in Noland Village, Frederick Manor and Westview housing complex, Browning said.

Volunteers are needed to sign children in after school, supervise club members during their stay and teach them new skills, he said.

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People with musical talents and artistic flair are encouraged to share their gifts with club members, Browning said. In hopes of starting a chess club, he is also seeking experienced chess players to mentor club members.

The Memorial Recreation Center in downtown Hagerstown needs volunteers who are available for any length of time between 2 and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday to work with children in the after-school program, Director Ruth Munro said.

Volunteers are especially needed for the center's "Reading Buddies" program on Tuesday and Thursday, Munro said.

The number of volunteers at Girls Inc., in Hagerstown is sufficient to help about one-sixth of the children who need assistance with homework every day, Executive Director Maureen Grove said.

One or two adults now volunteer daily at the agency, at which an estimated 90 girls spend their after-school hours, Grove said. It would take about five or six volunteers to meet the girls' homework needs.

Girls Inc. also needs volunteers to help prepare dinner for members, Grove said.

The Parent Child Center in Hagerstown doesn't solicit new families who might benefit from the center's services because there are barely enough volunteers to work with the families already enrolled in center programs, said David Bonebrake, director of the Child Advocacy Program.

"We've had twice as many cases as we do volunteers," Bonebrake said.

Child Advocacy volunteers and in-home aides are needed, he said.

The aides offer support to teenage mothers and work with families in crisis or in which children are at risk for abuse or neglect. Aides work with young mothers and families to resolve conditions that could lead to abusive situations, Bonebrake said.

Child advocates are trained, certified and sworn in by a judge of the court to help children who have been removed from their homes for child abuse or neglect, he said.

Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused, or CASA, "can always use volunteers," Executive Director Vicki Sadehvandi said.

Volunteers are needed to man CASA's shelter for abused women and their children, answer the agency's telephone hot line and do clerical work in the CASA office, Sadehvandi said.

The REACH Cold Weather Shelter and other REACH programs area also need volunteers, Director Terri Baker said.

The organization especially needs Interfaith volunteer caregivers to transport REACH clients to doctor's appointments, grocery stores and other venues to which they are unable to drive themselves, Baker said.

Volunteers make about 200 such trips each month, she said.

Drivers wanted

Individuals with vehicles and a desire to help others are also wanted for the Community Action Council's Meals on Wheels program, said Glenda Helman, acting co-director of the CAC in Hagerstown.

Volunteers deliver about 100 meals every day, she said.

"We count on the goodness of our volunteers to get those meals out," Helman said. "Anyone who has a couple of hours from 10 a.m. to noon could help get meals out. Even one day a week or one day a month would help."

CAC also needs volunteers to shop for the agency's food pantry, and to serve on the board of directors, Helman said.

Habitat for Humanity of Washington County needs volunteers to serve on such agency committees as family partners and family selection, volunteer coordinator Dori Nipps said.

"There seem to be a lot of people who like to do the hammer and nails thing, but we need folks who are willing to serve on committees - the unexciting piece but the piece that's the backbone of what we do," she said.

Habitat committees plan all aspects of the organization's work, from selecting deserving families for whom homes will be built to helping those families accrue the sweat equity hours they need before they can move into their new homes, Nipps said.

Volunteers handle public relations, coordinate efforts with area church groups and find property that could be suitable for Habitat. Volunteers are even needed to recruit more volunteers, Nipps said.

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