All invited to Volunteer Fair Oct. 24 in Cambridge

If you’re looking to give back to the community by volunteering at local, nonprofit organizations, stop by the Volunteer Fair Oct. 24 in Cambridge.

The Give A Helping Hand Volunteer Fair 2013 will be held from 3-6 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Heritage Center, 322 Riverhills Place N., Cambridge.

Nicki Klanderud with Cambridge Medical Center, Julie Tooker with GracePointe Crossing, Heidi VanderMey with Guardian Angels Elim Hospice and Collette Colucci with Family Pathways invite the community to the Volunteer Fair Oct. 24 in Cambridge to learn more about volunteer opportunities. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

Nicki Klanderud with Cambridge Medical Center, Julie Tooker with GracePointe Crossing, Heidi VanderMey with Guardian Angels Elim Hospice and Collette Colucci with Family Pathways invite the community to the Volunteer Fair Oct. 24 in Cambridge to learn more about volunteer opportunities. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

Local nonprofit organizations will be on hand to discuss volunteer opportunities for all ages. People are welcome to come and ask questions, enjoy refreshments and win door prizes.

Approximately a dozen agencies will be at the Volunteer Fair, including sponsor organizations GracePointe Crossing, Guardian Angels Elim Hospice, Cambridge Medical Center and Family Pathways. Other agencies include AARP, New Pathways, Cambridge Senior Activity Center Services (SACS), Cambridge Center for the Arts, The Refuge Network, Foster Grandparents and RSVP.

“This event will be a great way for people of all ages to come in and learn about different organizations they may want to give some time to,” said Collette Colucci, senior services coordinator for Family Pathways. “With all these different organizations in one place at the same time, people can spend time meeting with the different agencies one-on-one to learn about different volunteer opportunities that may be available.”

With most of these nonprofits, volunteers are invaluable.

“At Cambridge Medical Center, our volunteers are the heart of our organization,” said Nicki Klanderud, manager of community engagement with Cambridge Medical Center. “Our volunteers do so much for us, and it’s fun to see them giving so much time, and it’s also very rewarding for them as well. We have a lot of volunteers in all different areas of our facility. If you have time to give, we encourage you to come to the Volunteer Fair and learn more about our organization, and we’ll find something to match your passion.”

Colucci said the Volunteer Fair will be a great opportunity to learn more about local nonprofits.

“We rely on volunteers for our entire program at Family Pathways,” Colucci said. “Our volunteers don’t volunteer every day, and we offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities. Our volunteers also find it rewarding that, in some cases when working with our seniors, you are helping those seniors to live in their homes a little longer by helping them with groceries, prescriptions or whatever else they may need some help with.”

Heidi VanderMey, social worker with Guardian Angels Elim Hospice, said volunteers really make a difference.

“With our clients, it’s not necessarily the big things the volunteers do that matter, it’s the little things,” VanderMey said. “Our volunteers make such an impact on the people they are serving. If families know someone is sitting with their mother, father, sibling and loved ones, that is huge for the family. Sometimes it’s the small things the volunteers do that can really make an impact.”

The Volunteer Fair is a chance for people to learn and educate themselves on volunteer opportunities. There isn’t any commitment expected by attending the event.

“We’re excited to be offering this Volunteer Fair, and we are hoping for a nice turnout,” said Julie Tooker, community relations director with GracePointe Crossing. “If everything goes well, we will expand this next year by adding more organizations and agencies. We really look at this event as a way to bring the community closer together.”

Colucci said volunteer companionship and social respite are just a few of the volunteer opportunities offered through Family Pathways.

VanderMey mentioned hospice, respite for caregivers, as well as administrative work are opportunities available at Guardian Angels Elim Hospice.

Klanderud explained Cambridge Medical Center has a plethora of volunteer opportunities in the gift shop, coffee shop, front registration area, transportation and more.

“Volunteering is a great opportunity for our younger people to give back and get involved in the community,” Klanderud said. “It’s also great experience for young people and valuable experience they can put on their resume. Volunteering is a great way to learn how to deal with people and learn life lessons.”

Tooker agreed and added seniors living within the GracePointe Crossing facilities love seeing young people come in and help with various activities such as bingo, musical programs and more.

Colucci said volunteering is a rewarding experience.

“I know our volunteers have as much fun as our clients,” Colucci said. “Our volunteers develop relationships with their clients and become life-long friends.”

Volunteering can also help fill a void in someone’s life.

“In some cases, a healing process occurs while volunteering,” VanderMey said. “When some of our volunteers experience a loss in their lives, they feel a need to assist others in their lives, and it really helps with the healing process.”

All are welcome to the Volunteer Fair to learn more.

“Volunteering can offer a sense of pride and accomplishment,” Klanderud said. “Doing something good for someone else really coincides with the ‘pay it forward’ mantra. It also really helps us follow the golden rule of ‘treat others as you would want to be treated.’ Volunteering is a great example of that.”

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