Editor Erin Smith recently spoke with Joan Simmonds, executive director of the Baldwinsville Volunteer Center, to discuss the various programs offered by the center.
Organization: Baldwinsville Volunteer Center
Location: 44 Oswego Street in Baldwinsville
Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday
Why was the organization established?
The organization dates back to the 1960's. It was most known for the Christmas Bureau back then. The agency has grown and officially became an independent organization in 2000. Prior to that it was a branch of the Syracuse Volunteer Center.
What is the mission of the organization?
The mission of the agency is to mobilize people and resources to meet community needs.
Why do you need volunteers?
We need volunteers to operate our own programs, and we also help match volunteers to other volunteer opportunities in the community.
What services do volunteers provide?
We operate three programs that use volunteers. First, we have a Senior Transportation Program where volunteers drive senior citizens to medical appointments. Drivers are desperately needed for this vital program. Drivers can choose when they drive and only to locations they are comfortable with.
The second program is our school-based mentor program. We are currently recruiting adults who would like to spend an hour a week working one on one with a child in elementary or middle school. This is a very rewarding experience for both the students and the mentors. Just a little extra attention from a caring adult can make a world of difference to a child.
And, of course, Christmas Bureau is gearing up again this year. We need volunteers to organize donation drives and to work checking in and sorting gifts as they come in from Dec. 1 to 15.
How do services provided benefit the community?
Our services provide a many benefits to the community. Families in need are able to give their families a happy holiday; seniors who otherwise are shut in at home have access to their much needed medical care; and young people who are struggling with either academic and/or emotional issues get the extra attention that they need.
How do recipients react to the help?
Most people are extremely grateful for the services we provide. The families at Christmas are so appreciative. The seniors tell us over and over again that they don't know what they would do without our driving program. The students in the mentor program are so happy to have a special person coming to see just them. It makes their week.
For more information about the Baldwinsville Volunteer Center, or to volunteer, call the center at 638-0251.
For more Baldwinsville news, check out the Baldwinsville Messenger.