News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 10, 2013

Fair pulls in volunteers

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Volunteers provide a foundation for many nonprofit organizations to meet their missions to serve a community.

As a way to allow people to become involved, the Terre Haute Young Leaders, along with the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Masters of Leadership Development Program, hosted an inaugural Volunteer Fair on Thursday at the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana’s Service Center at Fairbanks Park.

“I got a little extra time and am looking to volunteer,” said Marlene Bilyou of Terre Haute, as she went from display table to table getting ideas on where she could help.

“I volunteered at Ivy Tech for so many years and did about all I could there. I’ve got a couple of hours a week I can volunteer,” she said,

Thirty-two organizations were on display at the volunteer fair.

“This is a way to give people the opportunity, even if just to volunteer an hour of their time, they can make a difference and make their community a better place,” said Stephanie Miller, chair of the Young Leaders.

“To get this many resources in one room does not happen very often,” Miller said.

Among the agencies was the Alzheimer’s Association.

 “I am looking for as many volunteers as we can get. We are in desperate need,” said Sarah May, the association’s community outreach specialist. “There is a stigma about the disease and people don’t want to talk about it and due to that, we have a really hard time finding volunteers.”

The association has three volunteers. “I’d like to triple that,” May said.

Volunteers can help organize the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and help with a leadership council, which plans education programs and markets the association.

Wendy Schroeder is president of the League of Terre Haute, a group that has been in Terre Haute since 1928. The nonprofit women’s organization donates a week’s worth of clothing to children in the Vigo County School Corp., and in February, gives all students from pre-school to fifth grade a tooth brush, tooth paste and floss.

“It is part of our mission to help support kids in Vigo County. A lot of kids can’t even get to the dentist,” Schroeder said. The organization has 32 members and is looking for more members.

People who seek to volunteer for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) will work as the eyes and ears of a court judge, working to find out needs of children, often staying in foster homes, said Stephanie Bachelor, volunteer coordinator.

“They look at how they are doing at school, how are they doing in a foster home and what  their needs [are] and [whether there is] a problem that maybe somebody else has not noticed,” Bachelor said. “They make recommendations to the judge on what they think is in the best interest of the child, which could be as simple as join[ing] a little league team in the summer for socialization and team building,” she said.

CASA has 110 volunteers now working with 360 youths, Bachelor said. “We have about 70 kids on our waiting list who are waiting for an advocate,” Bachelor said.

Jerry Cockrell, president of the Kiwanis Club of Terre Haute, said the club, founded in 1920, has about 110 members, but is always looking to expand its membership. “We help children in the community, state and the world,” Cockrell said, through programs such as Bring Up Grades, in which students who increase their grades get certificates and gifts. Kiwanis sponsors nine Vigo County schools in the program. At the end of the year, each school has one student selected to receive a bicycle for raising grades.

“The more members we have, the more things we can help with,” Cockrell said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or