60 Fun Things with Connie Herrera
Giving and Getting; You Make a Difference.
April is National Volunteer Month—but we don’t need to be reminded of that here—Rochesterians volunteer year-round. According to a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service, one in three residents in our region volunteered last year, making us the sixth highest large metropolitan area for volunteer service in the country.
People volunteer for so many reasons, and since my focus is on having fun, going places and lifelong learning, I believe that volunteers enjoy all three. You’ll help someone else, but meet new people, find new challenges, and add to your own health and happiness. It’s not just giving, it’s getting, too.
Dyann Brown, a retired nonprofit executive, volunteers in many ways: as an ombudsman (advocate) for residents living in long-term care facilities, tutoring at an afterschool program, reading to seniors at nursing homes and in Church ministry. “There are as many ways to volunteer as there are people,” she says. “Sometimes we initially identify where and when we want to volunteer. Other times a volunteer opportunity chooses us.”
“Lifespan’s RSVP Program led me to several volunteer opportunities in Rochester. Each allowed me to offer my available time to the people and organizations that I was drawn to for short-term or long-term commitments.”
Kenton Poole found a new focus after his retirement from the advertising and marketing world. His volunteer work (and sometimes part-time employment) at Sonnenberg Gardens ignited a passion for plants, which led him to return to Finger Lakes Community College. Poole added horticulture courses to his bachelor’s degree in Biology. He and other Sonnenberg volunteers planted thousands of new seedlings in the greenhouse to be ready for the upcoming season. He also re-established a long-neglected garden of unique prairie roses and started their first indoor greenhouse grapevines that should be producing its first crop of grapes for wine this year. Sonnenberg can always use volunteers to help tend the plants, work in the greenhouses, and take of some of the tasks that the small paid staff cannot handle.
But Where Should I Volunteer?
Do you like animals? Art? Susan B? Hiking? Helping the homebound? There’s an organization out there that would love your help. Hospitals, schools and your favorite not-for-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers. Visit their websites and find the link for “Volunteers” or call and find out how you can get involved.
If you’re not sure where your services are needed, or are looking to expand your horizons, there are several sources that will match your skills and interests with organizations that need them. Below are just a few of the many:
The Community Wishbook is a Rochester website that lists community needs for volunteers and a special events calendar.
RochesterCares.org is a new affiliate of the national Hands On Network. They want to help individuals give back and make a difference in their communities in a flexible way that can accommodate busy lives, while finding projects that meet their skills and interests. Phone Number: 585-428-7231
The Volunteer Connection is a national organization that aims to connect volunteers with organizations that need their help. It searches by area code.
VolunteerMatch brings “good people & good causes together.” You select what you care about (animals, arts and culture, human rights, etc.) and their site will search for organizations that need your help based on where you live.
Teach what you love: Sharing, teaching, mentoring
Share your knowledge, experience, passion, understanding and expertise and make a difference in people’s lives! Do you consider yourself an expert on a subject, craft, or unusual area of interest? The Rochester Brainery is looking for you! Show them your creative idea and how you’ll teach it, and you could be the next big thing in Rochester!
If you have a passion, your school district’s Community Education Department wants you to share it. Contact your district’s community education or recreation program with a plan for a class.
Check out the OASIS Education Centers and learn about opportunities for teaching and volunteering. These particular volunteers give thousands of hours of service to their communities each year!
Members teach members at Osher Lifelong Learning Center at RIT, and if you have an area of expertise that you want to share, teaching a class is part of the fun. Please note there is a fee to join the Center.
Become a SCORE volunteer and share your business experience and knowledge by mentoring new entrepreneurs. Your expertise is needed!
As volunteer Dyann Brown says, “All the while we are giving to others, we are giving to ourselves. Each time we reach out to teach an after-school student, drive an elder to a doctor’s appointment, visit a shut-in, or serve a meal at a shelter, we volunteers are nourished by and in our community.”
Connie Herrera is the author of 60 Fun Things to Do Within 60 Miles of Rochester and 60 Great Places to Go With Kids Within 60 Miles of Rochester, as well as travel guides for Buffalo, East Aurora, and Palm Springs, CA. “My goal is to help people rediscover where they live and see it with new eyes. So, if you’re new to the area, I want you to be astounded at your luck in moving here. If you’re here for a visit, I hope you’ll want to come back again to do more. And, if you’ve lived here all your life, I hope you’ll be surprised at how many places you haven’t yet explored and how many you want to visit again!” You can find out more at my website: 60funthingstodo