Carson City’s helping organizations could use your help.
A panel of representatives from six local charitable groups — Advocates to End Domestic Violence, C.I.R.C.L.E.S. Initiative, Friends in Service Helping (FISH), Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Ron Wood Family Resource Center and United Latino Community — talked about their services, challenges and opportunities for volunteering and donations Tuesday at a discussion hosted by Sierra Nevada Forums.
“Our goal is we hope you leave feeling you’ve learned quite a bit about the complexities of their jobs,” said Kathy Bartosz, executive director, Partnership Carson City, who introduced the panel. “Maybe you’ll find some opportunities for volunteerism and an opportunity where your money could go to good use.”
All the groups said they have multiple volunteer needs, from office work to food prep to mentoring, and they try to find a fit for anyone with a passion to help.
Yaraseth Anaya Lugo with United Latino Community said the group always needs volunteers to teach English as a second language as well as history and citizenship classes.
“The emphasis in our agency is to help the immigrant community assimilate,” said Lugo, ULC program coordinator.
Ron Wood Family Resource Center needs help in its emergency food bank, volunteers for hour-long supervised visits between parents and children, and a member for its advisory board of directors, said Joyce Buckingham, executive director.
Also, this time of year the group, which oversees the Toys for Tots program, needs people to work in its warehouse during weekday evenings preparing the holiday gifts.
“A lot of kids are counting on us this Christmas,” said Buckingham.
RSVP has a wide range of volunteer opportunities, from driving patients to medical appointments to providing respite for full-time caregivers.
“Our focus is mainly on seniors and multi-generational volunteering,” said Susan Haas, executive director and CEO. “We help frail, homebound elderly remain independent in their own home and with dignity.”
FISH, which provides food, shelter and medical services to low income and homeless individuals and families, operates with about 150 volunteers.
“Our biggest need right now is we have five training tracks,” said Jim Peckham, executive director, FISH. “If you have a skill you have a passion for and can share it with people.”
FISH also needs medical personnel; one of its volunteer physicians is retiring and its nurse practitioner is moving away, said Peckham.“We need allies. If you can be a friend you can be an ally,” said Steve Shaw, a volunteer with C.I.R.C.L.E.S.
The organization is focused on breaking the cycle of generational poverty. Clients take life skills classes and are then paired up with allies, those in the community who make a commitment to mentor the graduates for 18 to 24 months. “The core of our agency is our crisis hotline, which you can do from home,” said Lisa Lee, executive director, Advocates to End Domestic Violence, who also mentioned the groups Classy Seconds thrift store and Taste of Downtown event, which utilizes 120 volunteers.
Right now and more specifically, Lee said the group needs a babysitter for one hour a week during a support group, size 6 diapers, and clothes to provide sexual assault victims leaving the hospital.
But Lee and all the groups’ representatives agreed: people willing to donate their time are always welcome.
“I can’t think of way we have not been able to use someone’s service,” said Lee.
As for donations, the groups said one of the greatest but least glamorous needs is simply operational — to keep the lights on, said Shaw — but donors can always specify the money go to a specific program they care about.