Our Community Volunteers Are “The Best”

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by Janet Grella

As the sun sets on the last day of National Volunteer Month, The B-Town Blog wanted to highlight some of our local volunteer efforts in the community.

These unsung heroes deserve a pat on the back, as well as the ongoing praise and thank-you’s for their volunteer efforts that keep such entities running as our own regional hospital Highline Medical Center, the Highline School District, and Highline Area Food Bank.

Highline Hospital recently celebrated their 300 volunteers at a luncheon at the Normandy Park Cove. One hundred were able to attend the party, which was catered by Emerald Cove Catering.

“One of our volunteers has supported us for 31 years….and has given more than 13,500 hours of service. Incredible!” noted Mara Burke, Director of Community Relations and Volunteer Services.

Mara called the hospital volunteers “a tremendous resource, and quite the gift. Over-all these volunteers contributed nearly 51,000 hours to the running of hosptial services in over 40 divisions at their Main Campus in Burien and their Speciality Campus at 16251 Military Road South in Tukwila. As a matter of fact, BTB was advised that over one-third of the hospital workforce is comprised of volunteers.

“As you can tell, we are extremely appreciative of all that our volunteers do to support our patients, staff and community, ”

If you are interested in joining the army of loyal volunteers at the medical center click here. There are positions for adults and teen volunteers, and they currently have 59 teen volunteers who work after school.

Highline Public Schools tells us that for the 2008-09 school year (through March ’09) they’ve had over 2,700 volunteers working over 30,000 hours.

Catherine Carbone Rogers, Director, Communitcation and Community Engagement told BTB “We have many volunteer activities available in schools. Suffice it to say that every school can use volunteer support.”

“We welcome community volunteers in all our schools. We have recently begun some work to bring more of a community focus to our schools in SeaTac and White Center, with funding from the Stuart Foundation. Fourteen of our schools in SeaTac and White Center now have “community schools” programs, which provide academic and enrichment opportunities for students outside the school day. We have partnered with Community Schools Collaboration, a local non-profit organization, to coordinate these programs, which are often created by and staffed by community volunteers and community-based organizations,” Catherine told BTB.

To volunteer at our local public schools stop by any school to fill out an application. You will have a Washington State Patrol background check to qualify for school volunteering.

“As funding becomes available, we want to expand community schools programs to all our schools district-wide. This will provide many more opportunities for community members to be involved in schools” she continued.

Our local food bank could also use your help.  Understaffed but working hard, the Highline Area Food Bank is serving more and more people. Generous donations, fundraisers and smart buying help them keep the food stocked. Volunteers help keep the merchandise flowing to people in need.

Mike Werle, Executive Director of Highline Area Food Bank told BTB “We have over 50 different people volunteering for the food bank in some kind of capacity. With me being the only paid staff, volunteers are our life blood. Volunteers can help by picking up food from local stores (7 days a week), work during our distribution times (about 20 -25 people needed to run smooth), help clients out to their cars after they have picked out the food and it takes about 7 – 12 people to set up the food distribution area each day we are open.”

Volunteering is a great way have a positive effect on the lives of the people we serve in our local community. We at the Highline Area Food Bank are totally dependent on our volunteers. Ways that you can help are: register clients, assemble and package bulk food, pickup donations from local stores, assist clients in selecting their food, helping clients get the food to their cars and generally just serving our clients. In 2007 the in-kind labor costs donated by our volunteers was over $101,400. Without dedicated volunteers, none of this would be possible.

If you would be interested in volunteering please contact our Executive Director @ 206-433-9900.

Give back to the less fortunate than you and volunteer for a cause you believe in. And if you already volunteer thank you.

When you volunteer you give the gift of your time to those less fortunate than you. Be there for them. Volunteer!

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