Volunteering is an excellent way to broaden your horizons, help your community, meet new people and lift your spirits. Many local nonprofits desperately need help from volunteers to accomplish their everyday missions and to put on special events. But how do you find out where your time and talents can do the most good? If you’re looking for volunteering opportunities in the Erie area, there are two excellent places to start – besides this blog, of course.
First, GoErie.com hosts a list of opportunities that is updated periodically as organizations submit their needs to us. Reach it by clicking the blue button, labeled “Latest Volunteer Opportunities,” to the right of this post. Anyone wishing to submit their volunteer needs for inclusion in this database can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The United Way of Erie County and the Nonprofit Partnership recently launched Get Connected, a Web-based platform that matches volunteers with one-time and ongoing needs in Erie County and beyond. The site, http://getconnected.unitedwayerie.org, allows users to search for volunteer opportunities a number of different ways. You can browse through a list of nonprofit agencies, big and small, with descriptions of the organizations’ missions and their volunteer needs, as well as links to their websites.
If you have a certain kind of expertise or interest area, you can search for opportunities by topic area. You can also search events and for opportunities available within a certain distance of your location. If you want, you can register to receive updates of volunteer opportunities fitting the criteria you specify.
So if you have time and energy to give — whether it’s a lot or a little — check out these resources for some great ideas on how to use them.
Looking for some ways to help out this weekend? Here’s a roundup of some volunteer and fundraising opportunities in Erie County. If you have any suggestions for future posts, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop off your announcement at the Erie Times-News, 205 W. 12th St.
1. Give blood. Memorial Day weekend is traditionally one of the three worst weekends of the year for blood usage, due to all the travel and activities, and it kicks off the unofficial blood shortage season. Help the Community Blood Bank go into the weekend with the blood supply at a high level by donating. The blood bank, at 2646 Peach St., is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A photo ID is required.
2. Bike Around the Bay. The 11th annual Bike Around the Bay benefiting Environment Erie’s education programs will take place Saturday. Riders can choose among 10-, 30- and 50-mile rides. The rides will begin at 8 and 9 a.m., starting and ending at the Pilot House, 1 Holland St., behind the Intermodal Transportation Center. Day-of-ride registration is $25 for an individual and $45 for families. Call 835-8069 or visit www.environmenterie.org to learn more.
3. Erie Animal Network’s Art for Animals. Have fun and purchase an original piece of art by local professional and amateur artists, Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m., at Performing Artists Collective Alliance, 1505 Peach St. Admission is free; proceeds from the sale help support the Erie Animal Network’s pet food bank and its mission of reuniting lost and found pets with their owners.
4. Rummage sale at Orphan Angels Cat Sanctuary. Find some great stuff — clothing, books, DVDs, knick-knacks, pet items, household goods and more — and help the cats at Orphan Angels. The sale will be held Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 3 p.m., in the shelter’s parking lot, 5439 West Lake Road.
You’ll find them at four local sites beginning at 10 a.m.: Kmart, 2873 W. 26th St.; Kmart, 1320 Grandview Blvd.; Bob Evans, 2340 W. 12th St.; and Country Fair, 1449 W. Eighth St., and one more, Hoss’ Steak and Sea House, 3302 W. 26th St., starting at 11 a.m. The ladies will collect donations until 2 p.m.
Donations will benefit veterans at the Pennsylvania Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Home and the Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The Neighborhood Art House provides free classes in the visual, performing and literary arts to at-risk children in Erie. A ministry of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, the mission of the Neighborhood Art House is to enable children to experience beauty, grow in positive self-expression and self-discipline, and develop into full and productive human beings.
Each week, 60 volunteers perform a variety of program-related roles, including teaching, reading, tutoring, and serving as a program or office aide. Others serve on standing committees, develop and assist at fundraisers, read during lunch time for a week in the summer or perform myriad other services.
If you are interested in volunteering, contact the program director at email@example.com or 455-5508.
The Neighborhood Art House is also an approved site for placement of college students who qualify for the PHEAA Off-Campus Community Service Program. For information on this program, contact the executive director at NAH@neighborhoodarthouse.org or 455-5508.
The Catholic Diocese of Erie’s Office of Catholic Refugee Ministry works to connect refugees in the Erie area with resources to help them attain self-sufficiency and become contributing members of the community. One of the most important of these services is providing classes through which refugees learn to speak English, acquire necessary practical skills and become acquainted with American culture.
Catholic Charities’ refugee ministry is looking for volunteers to help teach a variety of classes to recently arrived refugees. Teachers are especially needed to help with English classes, using Rosetta Stone software, and also with employment and culture classes. Morning, afternoon and evening sessions are available; hours are flexible. No experience is required.
For more information about this or other volunteer opportunities with Catholic Charities, contact Deacon John Brophy at 897-8327 or click here.
Here’s your chance to be part of Erie history. The Perry 200 Grand Parade will be held in downtown Erie on May 25, starting at 1 p.m. The 1.8-mile route will start at West 12th and Cherry streets, travel east on West 12th Street to State Street, then head north on State to Third Street.
The lineup will feature more than 20 bands, including a Mummer’s String Band from Philadelphia, bands from Canada, and the 10-time World Champion Junior Corps, plus numerous floats and marching units, re-enactment groups, antique cars, giant helium-filled balloons and more. The organizers are expecting as many as 100,000 people to attend.
Lots of volunteers are needed on the day of the event to make it a success. Among many other tasks, the Perry 200 organizing committee is seeking people to carry banners in the parade; help set up and inflate the helium balloons at the Cathedral Prep Events Center field before the parade; handle the balloons in the parade; assist the parade marshals by escorting buses, trucks and marchers to the lineup or finish areas; clean up after the parade; work as parking lot assistants; and someone to meet the parade units at the end of parade and direct them where to go.
If you are interested in volunteering in this historic event, visit http://www.perry200.com/parade/volunteers/ and fill out the online form, or call Dan Mucci of the Perry 200 Commemoration at 459-8000.
At the event, you can meet rabbits that are available for adoption or fostering and talk with experienced bunny caregivers. Learn what it takes to care for rabbits and whether they would make good pets for you. For more information, call 833-7505 or 881-7243.