Impending warm temperatures mean fewer helping hands

There’s a recurring spring phenomena: When the weather heats up, the local volunteer pool thins out and leaves some of the local organizations that rely on those volunteers in the lurch.

Jo Clark, executive director of the StandUp for Kids, said that during the holidays, volunteers are never a problem. StandUp for Kids assists homeless and at-risk children in Kitsap County by offering hygiene supplies and food.

StandUp for Kids works with other organizations like Pathways to Success and the alternative schools in Central Kitsap to find students who need assistance.

“There’s a really big need right now,” Clark said.

In an ideal situation, there would be enough volunteers for StandUp for Kids to go out into the community and actively look for children who need help.

“We need a fair-sized team to go out and find the homeless kids and help them,” she said.

Right now, the volunteer pool for StandUp for Kids stands at about 15 active volunteers. Clark would like to have about eight more. The current volunteers range from students to retired senior citizens.

“Kids seem to relate really well to other kids,” she said. “It’s the relationship that counts.”

Christine Bolinger, director of the Central Kitsap Food Bank, said her volunteer pool tends to get smaller in the spring and summer, as well.

The CK Food Bank is low on volunteers “especially in the summer time when all the volunteers go on vacation,” Bolinger said. “Starting this month we’re having to let go of some of them for a week or two because of families traveling or doing other things.”

As of last week, there were three volunteers at the CK Food Bank that were out either on vacation or sick leave.

“We could really use someone, if for nothing else, to be on-call volunteers,” Bolinger said.

She believes the reason there are fewer volunteers in the spring and summer is because they are the traditional times that parents set aside for their families.

“Part of it I think is because they have time then,” Bolinger said. “A lot of people take time off because they want to take time off with their kids and they like to do a lot of things with their families.

When the CK Food Bank needs help finding volunteers, Bolinger calls local churches and Lutheran Community Services’ Retired Seniors Volunteer Program. The RSVP keeps a pool of available senior volunteers and matches the volunteers to jobs based on the seniors’ interests and skills.

According to Barbara VanGinkel, director of RSVP, there are about 730 volunteers in the program.

Most of the RSVP participants are folks who still want to remain active in the community but don’t have to work any more, VanGinkel said.

“We try to pair them up with where their talents are, “ she said. “A lot of (volunteering) is to socialize with other volunteers.”

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