They often are the lifeblood of the organizations they help, and during the week of April 21, they will be recognized as part of National Volunteer Week.
“Volunteers really are the back up for our line staff, and they help us achieve the things we want to do” at Jack-sonville's Richard D. Klein Animal Shelter, said executive director Angela Wallace. “We could not function without our volunteers.”
According to the website Pointsoflight.org, National Volunteer Week – established in 1974 – “is a time to celebrate people doing extraordinary things through service,” focusing national attention “on the impact and power of volunteerism and service as an integral aspect of civic leadership.”
Volunteers generally offer to help in places that grab their heart, said Mickey Gear, executive director of The Clothes Closet and More, a multi-faceted service ministry in Jacksonville.
“A volunteer is here because this is where their heart is,” she said. “They're here because they love the people, because they love helping.”
And that desire to help makes organizations run more smoothly.
“We don't have a large budget for salaries, so we can't hire. My assistant Mary is our only paid employee, and she's part-time,” Gear said, echoing Wallace's comment. “We can't function without our volunteers.”
However, the challenge is getting people to volunteer, because the need for their help is endless, and both she and Wallace encouraged individuals not to worry about qualifications or skills if they're interested in helping.
Animal shelter volunteers “focus on the TLC” part of things, Wallace said – walking, bathing and feeding animals, as well as giving a hand with landscape work or even handling simple jobs like taking care of mail-outs and thank you cards.
“There's a whole gamut of things people can do to help out – anyone who wants to donate their time or services, we can put them to work doing something,” she said. “The number one thing is to come down, let us know who you are, what you feel your strengths are and we'll match them up (with what needs to be done). We help each other out.”
People needn't worry about having a particular talent.
“If they don't know what their gift is, we can find it,” she said. “Everybody has a gift.”
During the week of April 21-27, the Jacksonville Daily Progress will feature stories about local volunteers making a difference
in their community.