Local agencies need volunteers

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 3:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 3:03 p.m.

Wanted: People with a desire to make a difference in someone’s life by volunteering in reading and tutoring/mentoring programs sponsored by United Way of North Central Florida and by volunteering at Haven Hospice in patient support programs as well as the thrift shop and administrative offices.

Karen Slevin, vice president of community impact at United Way, said volunteers are needed to mentor/tutor and read to children at participating schools and after-school programs in Alachua County.

Kim Faenza, director of communications and marketing at United Way, said volunteers are needed in all areas for at least one hour each week throughout the year because some programs are also offered during the summer.

“Volunteers make a difference in their (the students) lives,” Slevin said. “The volunteer is one extra person they know cares for them and their education.”

Courtney Quirie, director of volunteer services at Haven Hospice, said the greatest need is for volunteers to provide patient and caregiver support in the patient’s home or in medical facilities. She said volunteers are also needed to visit participants in Haven Transitions, a program for people with life-limiting conditions who don’t need hospice care. Volunteers are also needed for the Haven Hospice Attic Thrift Store and Haven Hospice administrative offices.

Charlene Stefanelli, administrative assistant for volunteer services at Haven Hospice, said ideally, volunteers serve three to four hours each week; however, hours are flexible.

“Volunteers play a supportive role,” said Quirie.” They may read and play cards (with the patient). They provide caregiver relief so they (caregivers) can run errands and get out of the house to clear their heads.”

Haven Hospice

Quirie said all volunteers go through an application process that includes orientation, a background check and training. Below is a list of programs needing volunteers:

— Patient and family volunteers: Provide assistance, companionship and support to patients who live at home, in nursing homes, in hospitals, in assisted-living facilities and inpatient care centers.

— Administrative volunteers: Greet visitors, answer phones, enter data, file documents and records, make phone calls, prepare materials for mailings, assist with printing and copying.

— Thrift store volunteers: Create displays, accept and process items that are donated, help with customer service, answer phones, repair furniture, alter clothes and work as sales floor assistants or cashiers.

— Teen volunteers, ages 16-17: Work at the Thrift Store or volunteer in an office doing administrative tasks.

— Transitions volunteers: Provide telephone support, community referrals, companionship and education for those dealing with serious life-limiting illnesses who don’t need hospice care.

“You don’t need experience,” Quirie said. “We provide all the training that is needed. All you need is a big heart and a desire to help.”

For more information, call 352-379-6244.

United Way

Slevin said all volunteers go through an application process that includes a background check and training. She said participating schools include Lake Forest Elementary, Caring and Sharing Learning School, Terwilliger Elementary, Idylwild Elementary and the Woodland Park and Northwest Boys and Girls Club.

Below is a list programs needing volunteers:

— ReadingPals: Volunteer to read to third-grade students for a minimum of one hour each week for 25 hours during the school year.

— Retired Senior Volunteer Programs, or RSVP: Volunteers ages 55 and older receive a stipend for transportation. They read to pre-kindergarten and second- and third-grade students, and through the Check & Connect program, they mentor/tutor 10th-grade students at Eastside, Gainesville and Hawthorne high schools.

Slevin said volunteers and students are matched. She said now is a good time to make an application to be ready when school starts.

“The sooner we can get them matched to students, the better the outcome,” Slevin said.

For more information, call 352-331-2800.

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