The new year no doubt included resolutions to get more involved in civic life for a large number of people in the U.P., so it seemed fitting to tap into that drive to get involved with a volunteer fair that gathered nonprofits and civic groups to make those resolutions come true.
That fair came and went last week at the U.P. Civic Building with full signup sheets and smaller stacks of informational flyers for 13 organizations that strive to improve their neighborhoods.
The fair was the brainchild of former U.P. city councilmember and ardent volunteer Debbie Klosowski, who is an anchor member of three nonprofit efforts: UP for Arts, Curran Orchard Resource Enthusiasts (CORE) and Sundogs, which is an effort to expand off-lease dog running options at Chambers Bay. Like most volunteers, she noticed that many of the groups have the same members, with many more people interested in getting involved in some volunteer effort but just not knowing where to start. Groups seeking new members never seemed to match would-be volunteers looking for programs to donate their time and talent.
“It was clear that there needs to be more volunteers,” she said. “I just put out the word to organizations about the fair and they signed up.”
The volunteer fair allowed retirees to learn more about groups to support and for public school students to find projects they can volunteer for to fulfill their community service requirements. The groups provided information not only about their overall mission but also ways that volunteers could get involved either long term or by participation in a single project.
Volunteers looking for single projects, for example, can attend a pruning party at the Curran Apple Orchard from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 4 and 18; March 4 and 18; or April 1 and 22.
Socially minded bookworms can attend the Friends of the University Place Library’s all-ages open mic night from 6-8:30 p.m. on the last Thursday of the month, where they can play a song, read a poem or tell a joke. Friends of the Library members work with library staff to sponsor events like this as well as children's and teen programs, raise money for books, furnishings and equipment the library cannot provide without donations and volunteer help.
“We bought a lot of audio-visual equipment for them,” Friends member Judy Bell said.
Friends donated about $10,000 to the library in the last five years for programs, events and equipment that ranges from computer terminals to the state-of-the-art Michale Hedges Video Editing Station for teenagers to develop their filming and editing skills while creating videos.