I am humbled by the outpouring of generosity in spirit I witnessed this morning at First Presbyterian, where about fifty people gathered to discuss how we can serve our community this year. Phil Kidd, Susie Beiersdorfer, and Brian Corbin spoke about service, and we collectively discussed angles to pursue in volunteering.
I want to share some of the thoughts that came out the meeting:
We need a place that catalogs the available service opportunities by category and allows volunteers to match their interests to action. It sounds like the HandsOn Network of the Valley wants to meet this need. Formerly the Volunteer Services Agency, their brand and site launch are supposed to happen in the next few weeks. We'll see what they have to offer.
Perhaps a volunteer Expo is in order, to bring together all the Valley's volunteer-driven organizations under one roof, to help them promote their events and needs and let those who want to serve have a chance to browse and see what opportunities are out there.
There is a desire to serve in the schools and to ensure there are outlets for youth service. Again, the HandsOn Network has something in the works for youth service this summer, and more information will be forthcoming. As for service in the schools, I want to pursue that avenue with a teacher friend and find out what opportunities there are for mentoring, tutoring, etc.
Cleanups and beautifications are a popular mode of service. Cityscape is such a successful event, and there are lots of people downtown each year. Could individual neighborhoods, driven by grass-roots leadership and in conjunction with the Cityscape event, create their own beautification events throughout the city? Our neighborhood in the Fifth Avenue-Crandall Park Historic District takes this approach already.
We also heard from several established organizations--TreezPlease, Grow Youngstown, and TimeBank--about what they offer.
I thought the event was a success, and I appreciate all who presented and attended. I look forward to following up with you soon to put our ideas into action.