With April, National Volunteer Month, almost behind us, I can’t let the month pass without giving a salute and a major shoutout to all of the volunteers in our community who make Delaware County such a great place in which to live, work and play. There’s barely a place or event in our neighborhoods that aren’t nicer, bigger and better because of the generosity of volunteers. Delco’s churches, schools, historical sites, hospices, libraries, museums, charity fundraisers, hospitals — you name it and volunteers are there to make sure that it thrives.
Last Thursday, I was honored to attend Senior Community Services’ annual Volunteer Luncheon down at the Lazaretto Ballroom in Essington where SCS paid tribute to hundreds of volunteers who generously contribute their time, energy and talent to increase the quality of life for our area seniors. These wonderful volunteers have impacted the life of just about every senior in our county in a positive way. (For information on becoming a SCS volunteer, contact Michele O’Brien at 484-496-2149).
Our county is blessed to have so many good people who believe in giving freely of their time to join our fire departments, clean our creeks, coach athletic teams, deliver meals, lead our children’s scout troops, share the arts, plant community gardens and put on fundraisers for local families in need.
Coincidentally, I had two different people call me this month who said they are new to the area and asked if I would write a column listing local volunteer opportunities. I realize that I would be writing from now until Christmas if I were to list all the volunteer opportunities only in Delaware County, and I would still miss some! My best advice is to think of your passion or your cause and then find a volunteer opportunity to match it so that you’ll love what you’re doing. Do you want to help veterans, children, seniors, those with intellectual disabilities, chronic illness or mental illness? Do you like to sew, garden, build, paint, talk to people, drive, knit, organize or make crafts? Maybe you’d be interested in the Big Brother/Big Sister program, being a COSA foster grandparent or becoming active in the Friends of The Library, a Rotary, Optimist or Lions club or a VFW, American Legion or Amvets organization to support our troops?
The possibilities are endless. However, in honor of National Volunteer Month and in response to the request of my two recent callers, I am going to list some volunteer opportunities that have come across my desk recently. This list is only the very, very tip of the iceberg and is only meant to be a starting point, so please explore further before committing, and if your choice doesn’t work out, pick another opportunity to try and keep going until you find the right fit because nothing brings greater satisfaction than giving of yourself to help others. I hope this little list helps. Either way, happy volunteering!
• Delaware County Women Against Rape has been providing services to victims of sexual assault and their significant others since 1974. The agency depends on the support of its volunteers to meet the needs of clients 24 hours a day. Services to victims include hospital/police interview accompaniment and telephone crisis intervention. Volunteers receive 40 hours of training to prepare them for their responsibilities and are asked to provide support at least twice a month for an evening or weekend shift. Interested community members may call 610-566-4342.
• Thresholds in Delaware County, a nonprofit organization with a mission to teach decision making skills to incarcerated adults and juveniles, is seeking volunteer instructors. Volunteers are well trained, have a flexible schedule generally spending 1½ to two hours per week with their client in a safe environment, and no prior teaching experience is necessary. Volunteer instructors must be at least 18 years old. No special skills are required except to possess a desire to help others. To learn more, call 484-301-0590 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• PAWS for People conducts local training sessions for potential pet therapy teams. Anyone with a gentle, people-friendly pet who is interested in volunteering time to work with children and adults with varying needs is welcome. PAWS for People provides therapeutic visits to individuals who will benefit from interaction with a well-trained loving pet. For more information, visit pawsforpeople.org or call 302-351-5622 for more information. A similar organization, Pals For Life at 939 Radnor Road in Wayne, brings pets to visit nursing homes, senior centers and mental health facilities throughout Delaware County. Humane education programs are taught at day care centers, schools and summer camps. To volunteer, call 610-687-1101 or visit palsforlife.org.
In fact, there are tons of volunteer opportunities for animal-lovers in the county, including ones at Providence Animal Center. Volunteer opps include socialization, training and enrichment, dog walking, off-site adoption event support, photography and online promotion of animals, barbers and groomers, office and front desk help and much more To find out more, call the volunteer department at 610-566-1370 ext. 238. Volunteers are also sought at the Animal Coalition of Delaware County. Visit acdc.ws and click on the “Ways To Help” link.
• The Center For Resolutions is always looking for parent/adult community volunteers to join a youth aid panel in Delaware County. The panel provides an alternative means for first-time juvenile offenders at the discretion of an arresting police officer. There are currently 27 panels in Delaware County. Volunteers are trained at the Center in Media and usually meet just once a month. Volunteers meet with juveniles after a summary-level arrest, such as an underage drinking, curfew violation, marijuana use, sexting or retail theft.
The panels are poised to intervene in the lives of these young people as a mentor at the first moment they begin to make poor decisions. After an interview, the panel creates assignments, or resolutions, that, upon completion, expunge the child’s criminal record. The assignments are typically composed of educational classes, community service and individually tailored projects. For more information, contact Denise Wusinich, director of YAP, at (610) 566-7710 or email@example.com. For more information on the Youth Aid Panel Program, visit center4resolutions.org/services/youth-aid-panels.
• Volunteers are needed to help a fellow Delaware County adult with reading, writing, math or English as a second language (ESL). Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) is seeking volunteers to provide one-to-one literacy tutoring to adults who are trying to improve their skills. Becoming a volunteer tutor for the Literacy Council offers personal rewards and strengthens the entire community. No previous teaching or tutoring experience is required, and 12 hours of free training and ongoing support are provided by DCLC. Adult students come to the Literacy Council hoping to acquire the basic skills they need to function in their lives and to succeed in the workplace. Since 1975, DCLC has been providing free literacy services to local adults. Some of these adults are immigrants hoping to learn English, and some are adults who are seeking a GED because they never graduated from high school.
Each volunteer tutor meets with an adult student in a convenient location, such as a public library, twice a week for 1½ hours each time. Free materials are provided. Those who have patience, compassion for others and a lifelong love of learning can share their talents. For more information, call 610-876-4811, or visit delcoliteracy.org.
• CityTeam Ministries in Chester is always looking for volunteers. They have a really convenient setup on their website under the volunteer tab. Specific volunteer opportunities are listed on each day of the online calendar so someone can sign up on a day/time slot they are available and pick the task that interests them. Some of the specific tasks this month included mother-baby helper, adult clothing helper, meal prep and food distribution. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-872-6865. Volunteers can access the calendar to sign on at cityteamchester.cityteam.volunteerhub.com/events/indexv1.
• Volunteers are needed to support Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County’s mission by utilizing your talents and experience. Volunteers receive extensive training in several specific areas of service and are provided with meaningful ways to help victims of abuse and raise awareness about domestic abuse. Opportunities include community outreach, safe house volunteer, administrative support, legal advocacy, thrift shop volunteer, hotline volunteer, chief advocate volunteer and individuals and groups with special projects and events. For more information, visit dapdc.org/get-involved/volunteer.
• Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park is always in need of volunteers to come in on Tuesday or Thursday at 9 a.m. and help get the pantry ready to open. Shelves need to be stocked. All produce must be inspected to be sure it is ready to be distributed. All new donations need to be weighed in, recorded and the date checked to be sure they fall within the USDA guidelines for expiration. Boxes to be distributed need to be packed. Various items, such as rolls and pastries, need to be bagged and ready to be distributed. The pantry can especially use volunteers on Tuesdays. From 9 to 10:30 a.m., the panty needs help receiving deliveries and getting the pantry ready for the day. From 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., they especially need people who can carry up to 30 pounds. Anyone wishing to volunteer their time or services should contact director Joanne Castagna or Lana Lindenmuth at (610) 532-9000.
• Volunteers are the backbone of Delaware County Special Olympics, and to be honest, it could not exist without the dedication and generosity of its volunteers. The time, energy and enthusiasm of volunteers make the athletes’ dreams a reality. Volunteers are needed to fill all kinds of positions, from coaches and assistant athletic trainers to fundraisers and athlete recruitment. For more information on volunteer opportunities, email DelcoSpecialO@comcast.net.
• Taylor Hospice in Ridley Park is always looking for volunteers to play an active role in helping to provide comfort and support to terminally ill patients and their families. Volunteers may visit patients at their homes, in the community, in nursing facilities or at the Taylor Hospice Residence. Companionship, active listening, running small errands, baking cookies, reading, playing cards, watching TV or a movie and sharing other interests or hobbies are just a few of the important activities volunteers provide. If you are interested in a non-patient volunteer role such as light gardening or minor maintenance, that’s available, too. A special training and orientation to hospice care is required of all prospective volunteers. For more information, call 610-521-5822 or visit Taylorhospice.org and download an application.
• All local hospitals of the Crozer Keystone Health System (Springfield, Taylor, Crozer and Delaware County) and the Main Line Health (Riddle, Bryn Mawr, Lankenau and Paoli) hospitals seek volunteers for many duties, including health screening, candy, magazine and book cart, messenger service, patient visitor, information desk, hospice unit, thrift shop, pet therapy, pediatrics, outpatient, rehabilitation and other departments. Volunteer programs are available to high school students, college students and adults. For information, visit crozerkeystone.org/services/volunteer or mainlinehealth.org.
• CASA volunteers form relationships with young people in the county’s child welfare system and become their trusted advocates. For more information, call CASA Youth Advocates in Media at (610) 565-2208 or visit delcocasa.org.
In the past year, I have done many stories featuring organizations in our community who are making a big difference in the lives of local people. Most of them couldn’t do what they do without the crucial help of their volunteers. Some worthwhile volunteer opportunities to check out include: Mother’s Home, 51 N. MacDade Blvd., Darby, (610) 583-4663, mothershome.org; Anna’s Place, 226 Norris St., Chester, annasplace.org, (484) 361-5900; Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, BVM Parish, 1101 Main St., Darby, (610) 583-2128; Delaware County Pregnancy Center, 2508 Edgemont Ave., Chester, (610) 872-2229; Catholic Social Services (the director of volunteer and community relations recruits, screens and places volunteers in appropriate settings within the various services and programs), (215) 854-7058 or email@example.com; The Arc of Delaware County in Swarthmore, thearcofdelco.org/become-a-volunteer.html, 610-544-6600; Delaware County Habitat For Humanity (on-site building, administrative, fundraising, Re Store), firstname.lastname@example.org or (484) 401-1650 or (610) 532-6100; Salvation Army always needs volunteers and can be reached at Darby Corps, 610-583-3720, salvationarmydarby.org or Chester Corps at 610-874-4266 or email email@example.com.
For those who want to volunteer in the great outdoors, visit Natural Lands Trust at natlands.org/volunteer/force-of-nature, John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum at fws.gov/heinz or Delaware County 4-H at 610-690-2655 or DelawareExt@psu.edu.
I have to stop myself right now because the volunteer opportunities in and around Delaware County really and truly are endless — and really and truly are rewarding. However, don’t listen to me — go check them out for yourself! Also, whenever you encounter a volunteer who is enriching your life and those around you by their selfless service, don’t forget to take the time to offer them a great big, sincere “thank you” during National Volunteer Month and during every other month as well.
Readers can reach Peg DeGrassa at firstname.lastname@example.org.