Volunteers find opportunity at non-profit fair

rpulley@lsjournal.comJune 20, 2014 

Agencies and potential volunteers came together at a non-profit fair showcasing Lee’s Summit area projects.

Nearly 50 groups, serving all kinds of needs, had booths at the June 18 event at The Pavilion at John Knox Village. The Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s Civic Engagement Committee from its Community for All Ages Coalition and the Lee’s Summit’s Human Services Advisory Board held the event. It included groups serving the poor, to the arts, health and for special needs children.

The object was to reach out to older adults who would have time for volunteering with the agencies and who would enjoy the social aspects of working with peers for a good cause, said Phil Hanson, president and CEO of the foundation.

He said the foundation’s Civic Engagement Committee is doing the outreach to take advantage of the large number of Baby Boomers who are reaching 50 years and older. They’re asking those individuals to consider what the next phase of their life will be. Volunteering helps individuals keep connected with their community and friends.

“You need to get the opportunity in front of people ... they volunteer when asked to volunteer,” said Karen Bartz, chair of committee.

Susan Coffman, who organized the fair, said about 75 people visited, which wasn’t bad for the first-time event. She said many of the participants said they were successful in meeting potential volunteers.

“Volunteers are the key for our success,” said Michael Straughn, the ReStore director for Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity that serves eastern Jackson County. “If we had to hire people, we wouldn’t be able to afford to do what we do.” ReStore takes donations of large appliances, furniture and building materials and sells them to support building homes.

Geneva High, director of Lee’s Summit Social Services, a long-established agency which provides aid to the needy, said “All fifty of my brochures disappeared, which is a good sign.”

The representatives of the groups also visited other booths.

“This was so good for us because we got to know the other entities in our community,” said Christine Rackers, CEO of MetroCare that helps get medical care for people without health insurance in the Kansas City area, including Lee’s Summit, through a local branch MetroCare Lee’s Summit. That agency has signed up 900 medical providers that volunteer to treat poor patients in their practice.

Anyone thinking of using some spare time as a volunteer can locate an agency that fits their interests by visiting the Lee’s Summit Human Services Advisory Board website at www.LSHSAB.org or send an inquiry to hsab@cityofLS.net

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