Western students were encouraged to roll up their sleeves and get in the habit of volunteering at the Community Service Fair on April 6.
Becky Antonaccio organized the event. The purpose of the event was to bring organizations together, and get more students involved with volunteering.
“Volunteering is important because it provides hands on experience. When you volunteer for an organization you can develop an internship or job,” said Antonaccio, “When you tell the organizations your major, they will find a job that will fit you.”
The Youth Volunteer Corps of United Way engages youth from diverse backgrounds in service projects.
According to Casey Lavene, students can go to uwwesternct.org to search for volunteering opportunities from numerous organizations throughout the community.
“People who are looking for volunteer opportunities can look up an event or an organization they’re interested in, and find what they need at just one site,” said Lavene.
“Volunteering offers the opportunity for people who maybe don’t have a particular skill set to help build that skill set, and make them a little more marketable,” she added.
Morgan Greening said, “We do a lot of service learning with our youth volunteers, and we teach them youth employment skills, organization, being on time, compassion and empathy.”
Jericho Partnership Inc. is a broad Christian based social service organization. According to Michael Ronan, Director of Operations, Jericho is in need of mentors and tutors for after school programs on an ongoing basis, bilingual translators for the clinic, volunteers for the overnight shelter, drivers, cooks, and reading buddies.
Grace Manne, Administrative Coordinator, said Jericho also hosts social-work internships, and internships at the summer camp for at-risk children. Students can sign up for volunteering opportunities and the Jericho newsletter at JerichoPartnership.org.
“Volunteering is a great opportunity to get a very broad range of experiences,” said Manne.
Animal Assisted Therapy Services (AATS) offers opportunities for volunteers to help train therapeutic horses and therapy dogs. The programs offers therapy for paralysis, multiple sclerosis, motor skills, speech and cognitive reasoning, autism, down syndrome, substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, or amputation.
According to Ryan Murphy, a volunteer at Western, volunteers can help with farm clean up days, which are one day events; and volunteer programs in the spring and the fall, which run for about six weeks. AATS seeks commitment for the whole six weeks because consistency is important for kids. Students can sign up at AnimalAssistedTherapyServices.org.
“Volunteers learn how to work with kids with different disabilities, and they also learn how to work safely around horses and other animals,” said Murphy, “We don’t need any experience with horses or other experience working with kids.”
Anne’s Place is a community based cancer support center that supports anybody who has been diagnosed with cancer as well as their loved ones. The services are provided at no charge.
According to Lynn Stubbe, a volunteer, Anne’s Place uses volunteers for all sorts of opportunities such as events, fundraising, office work, groundskeeping, reception, reiki, yoga, wellness, support groups, and committee work. Volunteers can request information at AnnesPlace.org.
The City Center of Danbury is the downtown business improvement district, focusing on economic vitality of Main Street and overall revitalization. According to P.J. Prunty, Executive Director, the goal is to bring businesses downtown and have them prosper.
City Center currently focuses on events such as the Summer Concert Series, which is capped off with a marquee event called the Taste of Danbury. Prunty’s focus for attending the fair was to inform students how to sign up for a mailing list at CityCenter.com to be reminded of upcoming events in Danbury.
The Pratt Nature Center is a 205 acre nature center New Milford featuring hiking trails, summer camps, education vegetable garden, and a greenhouse.
According to Diane Swanson, the center offers volunteering opportunities for events such as Earth Day and an annual auction as well as weekly volunteering, which involves working with farm animals, trail work, and vegetable gardening. The center is also looking for two paid staff members.
Students can apply for paid or volunteer opportunities by emailing Diane or Haily at PrattCenter.org.
The Women’s Center offers direct service volunteering, which mean volunteers act as staff members, manning the hotline when paid staff members are unavailable. Volunteers answer distress calls during nights, weekends, and holidays. Sometimes the volunteers will make hospital, police or school visits acting as staff counselors.
Students who are interested can fill out an application at wcogd.org. Applicants will go through a rigorous 44 hour state mandated training to be a staff counselor.