Volunteers Needed All Year Round
Local nonprofits explain why it's important to volunteer after the holidays
A number of local nonprofits and organizations will be volunteering their services this holiday season by donating food, toys and grants to those who are in need. Although there is a large request for volunteers during the holiday season their services are needed during the entire year.
The Closet is a widely known Herndon nonprofit thrift shop whose mission is to provide quality clothing and household items at affordable prices. Board of director's Presdient Laura Greenspan said, the organization would be completely overwhelmed by the volume of donations if they didn't have volunteers helping year round.
"If we didn't have volunteers we would either have to throw stuff away or hire more staff, which would mean less money for us to give back to the community through grants and scholarships and also less for our customers to purchase," Greenspan said.
Currently, Greenspan said the Closet has a dedicated group of about 40 people who donate more than 100 hours each year. A total of 765 people, ranging from students, organized groups, customers and businesses volunteered their time in 2009.
"From my perspective, our regular volunteers have given so much during the year, they don't have to give more because it's the holiday," Greenspan said.
Reston Interfaith, which provides affordable housing and supportive services for neighbors that are struggling in a high cost of living area, had more than 2,500 volunteers last year.
CEO Kerri Wilson said that while some of their programs require skilled case workers, teachers or others to work with people suffering from deep challenges, there is not one program at Reston Interfaith that could operate fully or doesn't benefit from what community volunteers bring as partners.
"Last year, our organization benefited from more than 25,000 volunteer hours with a ratio of 25 volunteers for every paid staff person in our organization," Wilson said. She said in the past have greeted visitors and residents at the shelter, prepared and served meals at Embry Rucker Shelter, stocked the pantry shelves and mentored children and adults.
"We have opportunities for service and giving throughout the year," Wilson said. "The important thing is to realize that the need is around us throughout the year."
Herndon-Reston FISH is a non-profit dedicated to helping local residents through short-term crises. Executive Director Sherri Longhill said the major focus for FISH is generating an income to help those in need.
"If we didn't have our volunteers, for example at The Bargain Loft, which brings in a good portion of money for FISH, it would be very difficult to do what we do without them," Longhill said.
Jeanie Schmidt Free Clinic Executive Director Meagan Ulrich said the clinic often relies on the help of anyone who is willing to volunteer. The clinic helps medical care for those in need who don't have insurance and who live 200 percent or more below the poverty level.
"Obviously we need donations to pay for medical staff supplies, medicines and rent." Ulrich said. "Our volunteers have always been the center of what the clinic does from administrative support to providing care to patients through volunteer doctors and nurses."
To learn how you can volunteer your time at any of the organizations above, as well as a number of others in Herndon, take a look at Ten Places to Volunteer in Herndon.