Make a Difference in Hampton Roads by Volunteering
- Written by Belinda Elliott
- Category: Lifestyle
- Published: 11 April 2017
April is national volunteer month, and there has never been a better time to start volunteering in your community. Whether you have a lot of free time to contribute, or only a little, many organizations across the region need people to help them with everything from office work to tutoring. On a recent episode of HearSay with Cathy Lewis, guest host Joe Flanagan spoke with representatives from three local organizations that are making a huge impact in Hampton Roads through their volunteers. They would love for you to get involved and join them!
Richard Morris is the Membership Chair for the Kiwanis Club of Virginia Beach. He joined the group 40 years ago after having served in his high school’s Key Club, a part of the Kiwanis International family of service-leadership programs. Kiwanis International is a global organization that serves children and is dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time. Flanagan is also a member of the Virginia Beach Kiwanis and said the volunteer opportunities and camaraderie among members are two things that compelled him to join.
There are numerous Kiwanis clubs throughout Hampton Roads, and each conduct various service projects within the community. The Kiwanis Club of Virginia Beach has provided services including cleaning up local streets, delivering meals during holidays, serving the homeless, and adopting families to help at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The club hosts a guest speaker at each of their weekly meetings. They also sponsors local Key Clubs at Cox High School and First Colonial High School. In addition, the Kiwanis Children’s Council helped establish KidsPriorityOne.org, a one-stop resource center where families, or those who serve families, can find local resources and information about everything from food and housing to childcare and parenting.
Though Lions Club International members are known for all of the work they do around vision – conducting eye exams and screenings, distributing free eye glasses, and recycling used pairs of glasses – each local club is autonomous and free to tailor their services to the needs of their specific community, explained Tucker Casanova, a District Governor for the Lions Club.
The Lions began in 1917 when Melvin Jones, a 38-year-old Chicago business leader asked a simple question of his fellow businessmen: What if people put their talents to work improving their communities? One hundred years later, the group is now the world's largest service club organization, with 1.35 million members.
This past year, Casanova said, local clubs have worked to provide hunger relief, environmental services, and youth outreach. In the upcoming year, they will be working in the area of pediatric cancer. They also continue to provide vision services – something that helped identify his own 3-year-old son’s need for glasses before anyone noticed it.
Serving in a local club can be a great experience for younger citizens, he said. He points to recent studies that indicate millennials want to make an impact for good. “We can be that path for them to make that impact,” he explained. “We have 100 years of experience. We will guide you and mentor you. If you have new ideas, that’s what we need.”
Volunteer Hampton Roads
Not sure where to volunteer? There is a website to help! Susan Pleasants, Director of VoluntTier Vision for Volunteer Hampton Roads, says the organization partners with more than 200 local organizations who need volunteers. Visitors to the website can search for opportunities that match their skills or the timeframe they are available. The website lists projects completed in a matter of hours or one day, as well as ongoing initiatives.
“There are so many opportunities with so many organizations, so if you have a particular passion, interest, or skill set, we can assist you in finding those particular niches where you can be most impactful,” Pleasants said. “If you reach out to us via the website or a phone call, we’re happy to talk to you one on one.”
Visit volunteerhr.org, or call them at 757.624.2400.
Listen to the entire HearSay segment.
More Places to Volunteer
Many international organizations have local chapters. Visit the websites below to find an organization near you. Or, join us and volunteer at WHRO.
- American Red Cross
- Salvation Army - Hampton Roads
- The Junior League (women)
- Virginia Jaycees (young adults)
- United Way
Listen to more episodes of HearSay with Cathy Lewis online.