Across our region, volunteers make it all happen

Volunteers make stuff happen. Volunteering is a noble profession and so essential to our community. Whether you are a Girl Scout leader or baking cookies for PTO bake sales or teaching adult literacy skills, you are involved in a time honored, community building, personal journey called volunteering. Bravo to you, and thank you. We need you.

Let me tell you about a River Center volunteer. This individual first came to The River Center several years ago. Life had become very complicated and difficult. She did not have the support systems she needed for herself and her children. The home visiting program provided her with support and resources needed during her pregnancy and for her young children. As her immediate needs stabilized she started participating in parenting programs, building confidence as a mom and as an individual. Life is more stable now for this family. She offered to volunteer, sharing skills that she has learned along the way. As I watched her recently share with a group, I saw her speak with poise, with knowledge and with confidence. She is giving back. She is an inspiration.

The River Center is a family and community resource center that is a nonprofit organization. That means we do as much as possible for our community with as little money as possible. (My definition, apologies to the nonprofit world.) How do we do this? We use volunteers. Approximately 200 volunteers help us each year. We have an awesome group of people who are excited about serving our community through their skills, their knowledge and their time.

Next week is Volunteer Recognition Week. I want all The River Center volunteers to know that we are so appreciative of all they do for us — for both the staff and our participants. Larry and his faithful team of tax preparers have been working hard since January preparing tax returns that are resulting in almost $900,000 in refunds. Julie has been teaching computer skills workshops, Beth answers the phones, Carol reads to the children, Tina writes our grant requests, Chris gives us social media advice, Jim wields the chain saw for our wood bank, Pat and Karen figure out our technology needs, Kim organizes the Community Closet. Our volunteer board not only commits their time and skills but they also take on legal responsibilities as well- all in a volunteer capacity. Our Advisory Council met this past week- again, volunteers serving as advocates and advisors for The River Center. I haven’t mentioned everyone; it is a very long list. It should be clear — volunteers keep us going and help us serve our community.

On May 3 we will have our 8th annual Community Spelling Bee. Volunteers will take tickets, bake and serve goodies, judge, pronounce, compete. They will bring their enthusiasm, their laughter and their passion for the mission of The River Center: to strengthen individuals and families in the Eastern Monadnock Region. You can help by participating in our bee as part of a team, as a sponsor, as part of the crowd to cheer them on. Sometimes all you have to do is volunteer a little of your time to make a Big Difference.

Margaret Nelson is the executive director of The River Center in Peterborough.

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