AUGUSTA — Kennebec County residents seeking community service opportunities visited around 20 nonprofits seeking volunteers at a volunteer recruiting fair Saturday at Lithgow Public Library.

For Stephanie Quintal, the desire to help out her community came at a point when time and resources allowed.

“You get busy in your life where you don’t have time (to volunteer), like when we raise children,” she said.

Quintal visited the MaineGeneral Medical Center volunteer services table, where handmade comfort items were displayed.

“These are the kind of needs that you just don’t know about when you’re on the outside,” she said.

People chat with representatives of organizations needing volunteers on Saturday at Lithgow Public Library in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Quintal knits and crochets, and she considered making hats and other items for patients.

“Patients come in and they don’t have any clothing because it’s been torn off them from an accident,” volunteer coordinator Tracy Lloyd said to Quintal.

Janet Sawyer, of the Kennebec Land Trust, talks to people about volunteering at the group’s Howard Hill project on Saturday at Lithgow Public Library in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Lloyd said volunteers are needed “everywhere. We’re a small city.”

In the hospital, some of the help is needed to provide patients comfort; nonpatient contact help is needed in security, the gift shop and the restaurant; and outside the hospital, volunteers can make hats and mittens, dolls for children and prayer shawls.

The hospital has volunteers aged 14 to 94. Last year, volunteers gave 39,470 hours of service. It may seem like a lot, but Lloyd said the hospital can match any number of volunteers with what they want to do.

Lloyd said the hospital has held its own volunteer recruiting fairs, but that this is the first time it has participated in a fair outside.

This is the first time the library has hosted a volunteer fair. The idea was triggered when adults approached the library seeking volunteer opportunities.

“We’re fortunate that we have a great slate of volunteers,” said Sue Clain, who coordinated for the event for the library. Clain is a library aide in adult services.

“But we didn’t need more.”

While the library had adequate help, Clain knew many more organizations were in need of volunteers. She recruited area nonprofits that rely on volunteer help. As of Thursday, around 19 organizations planned to set up at the event.

“Until you talk to these organizations, you’re not aware of all that they do,” Clain said. She pointed to the United Volunteers of Maine, an organization she’d known little about.

UVM approached the library to participate in the fair following an advertisement, Danell Kent, vice president of UVM said.

UVM provides community-based projects by coordinating volunteers and organizations. It is responsible for hosting a large haunted house with the help of area youth groups, which benefit from the proceeds. It also hosted a Santa’s workshop, which benefited a family with a young father who had suffered a stroke. Also, a hot dog wagon’s proceeds funded a handicapped-accessibility ramp.

Lynn Kidd is Catholic Charities of Maine’s program coordinator for the Seek Elderly Alone, Renew Courage & Hope program in the Kennebec Valley.

SEARCH supports seniors age 60 and older who are homebound and need support. Volunteers help seniors by providing companionship, doing errands such as grocery shopping and transportation to doctor’s visits.

“Rural areas in the Kennebec are more challenging ones to find (volunteers),” Kidd said. “Those are the ones that are almost in the greatest need, in little communities.”

People chat with representatives of organizations needing volunteers on Saturday at Lithgow Public Library in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Kidd finds recruiting fairs to be beneficial. “People want to volunteer but don’t know what’s out there,” she said.

Janet Sawyer represented both the Kennebec Land Trust, where she is the first vice president of the board of directors, and the Howard Hill City Park.

“Last year we had a small, committed group of volunteers,” Sawyer said. “We can use more help, because we’re clearing and creating trails.”

In Augusta, the trust has the greatest need for volunteers to assist with breaking trail on the newly acquired Howard Hill. The trust conserves more than 6,000 acres in Maine and maintains 47 trails, according to its website.

But for those who might not be able to offer physical help, Sawyer said, volunteers also will be needed to prepare mailings and plan fundraising for the historic park. They also can become members of the Kennebec Land Trust; membership fees start at $30.

“I heard people saying how they had no idea there were so many groups that needed volunteers,” library staff member Carrie Hawks said. “I think people were surprised with how much opportunity there was.”

 

Abigail Austin — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @AbigailAustinKJ

 


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