PETOSKEY — With spring’s arrival, people sometimes find themselves in a brighter, more energetic frame of mind.
For those who’d like to put this vitality to use in a community-oriented way, many local organizations have opportunities for volunteering available at this time of year.
Through the tough economic times of the past few years, area food pantries have seen increased demand for their offerings, and some see a continuing need for volunteers in order to meet it.
“We always have jobs for volunteers,” said Kathy Hart, executive director of The Manna Food Project in Harbor Springs.
Manna operates its own food pantry, and also acts as a food bank supplying dozens of other Northwest Michigan pantries.
Hart noted that volunteers can aid with a variety of different tasks at Manna, and that flexible scheduling is available. Volunteers perform tasks such as picking up surplus food donated by area businesses as part of a “food rescue” program, filling backpacks with food for area schools to provide to students in need, helping with fundraising and assisting with weekly distribution of food to pantry clients.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities, Hart suggests people stop by Manna for a facility tour between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays at 8791 McBride Park Court, Harbor Springs, or see www.mannafoodproject.org.
Hart noted many of the other area pantries have their own needs for volunteers.
Brother Dan’s Food Pantry, which serves the Petoskey area, is one that’s currently welcoming such helpers.
Pantry director Mary Moellering said opportunities tend to be available during late afternoon and early evening on Mondays, and during daytime hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Volunteers commonly perform tasks such as grocery shopping, stocking, inventory and helping clients assemble their supply of food during Tuesday distributions. Brother Dan’s also serves hot meals to people in need on Tuesdays, and Moellering said the pantry hopes to expand this program at some point if enough additional volunteers can be enlisted.
Brother Dan’s, established as a community outreach effort of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, offers volunteer opportunities for a variety of age groups — children can help out if accompanied by an adult — and without regard to religious affiliation. The pantry often offers opportunities for people with disabilities to help.
“We’re all volunteers, and we need to be open to the hours that can be donated,” Moellering added.
For more information, call (231) 347-7423.
Women’s Resource Center
The Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan in Petoskey, which assists clients facing issues such as domestic violence and sexual assaults, regularly relies on volunteer help for some of its operations as well.
For example, at the center’s Gold Mine fundraising resale shops, volunteers help operate cash registers, assist in putting items on display and perform light maintenance tasks. The Safe Home domestic violence shelter also relies on volunteers — especially around the staff’s shift change in late afternoon and early evening. Volunteers help with meals, care for children while their mothers are attending support group sessions, help answer crisis-line calls and more.
For more information about Women’s Resource Center volunteer opportunities, call Jamie Winters at (231) 347-1572. A list of volunteer job descriptions and a volunteer application can be found at www.wrcnm.org/support/volunteers.
Organizations providing recreational opportunities, such as the YMCA of Northern Michigan in Petoskey, also depend frequently on volunteers.
A regional three-on-three basketball competition which the YMCA will host Saturday, April 28, at Petoskey High School, is one occasion when such help will be needed. YMCA executive director Larry Wood said volunteers are needed to serve as referees and scorekeepers, to help operate a concession stand and to help out-of-town competitors find their way to the event site.
The YMCA also welcomes community help with its fundraising garage sale planned for Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, at Fletch’s of Petoskey. This can take the form of donations — such as household items, yard equipment, furniture, books and compact discs — and opportunities to help operate the sale may be available as well.
To learn more about assisting the YMCA, call (231) 348-8393.
Char-Em United Way invites volunteers to get involved with some of its own community outreach and fundraising initiatives, and also provides listings of volunteer opportunities available with other community groups.
Volunteers are sought to help at upcoming United Way events such as the “Instant Wine Cellar” fundraiser on Friday, April 20, and the Day of Action event Thursday June, 21, (volunteers are particularly needed to read to children at several sites), and to help plan and organize the Day of Caring community-service event in September. The first planning committee meeting will be Thursday, April 26.
United Way’s volunteer opportunity listings are available online at volunteer.truist.com/charemunitedway/volunteer, and visitors can sign up to receive email updates about new opportunities. Char-Em United Way can be reached by phone at (231) 487-1006.
Numerous service clubs around Northwest Michigan — many of which are affiliated with larger organizations such as Kiwanis International, Lions Clubs International and Rotary International — provide members with opportunities to volunteer for community-service projects themselves, and provide funding assistance for those of others.
Jenny Brower, president of the Rotary Club of Petoskey-Sunrise, for example, noted that this club — which has members from a wide variety of work backgrounds — shares the values of the larger Rotary organization and helps support its international service efforts. But she added that “some of our club evens are just built around servicing needs in the community,” and that guests are welcome to check out club meetings.
Like many of the area’s other service clubs, members gather regularly for meetings that include food, club business and member-arranged guest presentations on a variety of topics.