By Michelle Strubeck The world is full of opportunities to give back and volunteer. It is natural to want to share time with others for the betterment of the world. Some examples of volunteer work include tutoring students, picking up litter along the roadside, participating in charitable functions or raising awareness on a specific cause. There are numerous reasons why you should consider volunteering. Here are a few reasons why: People are the best means there are to help other people. Who do you turn to when you are in need? There are people who need help, so why not help out? Somewhere along the line you may have been assisted by a volunteer. Consider giving back with your own means. Giving your time and effort makes you feel wonderful. When you do good, you feel good!
Volunteering is also a learning experience. You learn more about yourself and you learn to interact with people in different ways as you volunteer. You get to learn and make a difference at the same time and it doesn’t get any better than that.
There are multiple places in Ava that are grateful for their volunteers and the work they do. One such example is Ava Place. They utilize their volunteers to perform a variety of tasks with their residents. Volunteers at Ava Place are important to the well being of the residents assisting with activities such as bingo, rock painting, exercise groups, manicures for the ladies, corn hole, horseshoes and games like Yahtzee. Playing piano and singing are also enjoyed by residents and volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering at Ava Place should contact Angel McCoy at 683-6999 for more information. Volunteers are required to have an EDL check and their is paperwork to fill out. Currently volunteer work depends on the opening of the facility do to COVID guidelines.
Another place to considering volunteering in Ava is at the Options Pregnancy Center. They are a non-profit organization that provides physical, emotional and financial support for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. Mary Seewald, Executive Director stated that their volunteers are very valuable and they wouldn’t be open if it wasn’t for their volunteers. They are a treasure. Volunteers assist as receptionists, they sort clothing and donations in their boutique, they mentor the women, do building maintenance, and they assist with event planning setting up and breaking down for an event. Options Pregnancy Center will be at the Hootin and Hollarin Festival in Gainesville September 16th – 18th, where they have a satellite office that opened in December 2018. They will have a booth at the festival doing face painting, selling food, meeting people in the community and fundraising. On October 2nd they will have their Glow Crazy Walk For Life and they are in need of volunteers for this event. The first Thursday in November Options Pregnancy Center will be at the Fall Festival at Cold Creek Cowboy Church where there will be food, music and a live auction. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or if you would like more information about the events mentioned contact Mary Seewald at 683-2315. Options Pregnancy Center is open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Visit their website at www.optionsofava.org or you can find them on Facebook.
The Bears Den After School Program is another way a person can volunteer in the community. The after school program is funded by a grant and it operates like a scaled down version of the school day. Students participate in enrichment programs such as robotics and they go more in depth into other programs. Their is extended learning time while some volunteers tutor the students, their is supervised playground time and other activities. Some high school students volunteer as tutors or they assist with outside activities in order to complete community service projects.
Superintendent Aaron Dalton stated that their are different levels of volunteers and the requirements to be a volunteer will vary. Any volunteer working with a student one-on-one will be required to go through a background check and their is a screening process in place. He also mentioned that protocols have been significantly impacted due to COVID. There is also a bus route at the end of the day that provides transportation for students participating in the program. If you would like to volunteer for the Bears Den After School Program contact the principal at the elementary school, middle school or high school for more information.
The Senior Citizens Community Center is another place to consider if you are interested in becoming a volunteer. Volunteers are essential to what they do at the community center and they couldn’t get by without their volunteers. They help out in the kitchen carrying lunch trays, cleaning up after meals and bagging silverware for meals. Other ways volunteers help out is by answering phones or calling senior citizens to check on their well being. Lisa Englehart stated that anyone with a talent such as teaching a craft, showing seniors how to use a cellphone or a computer are welcome to apply as volunteers. Anyone with musical abilities is always welcome as well. They do have a foot clinic where a nurse comes in, but if you want to offer your services and give manicures and pedicures that would be welcome as well. There are always things to do and volunteers are very much appreciated. Depending on your level of volunteer work, you may be required to submit to a background check and go through a screening process. For more information contact Lisa Englehart at 683-5712.
Another organization you might consider volunteering at is the Ava Citizens Action League (ACAL). The ACAL is a Not for Profit organization that was incorporated in 2017 as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded by Dick Salgado, Economic Development Committee Chairman for the Ava Chamber of Commerce. The ACAL was formed when a group of eleven Ava residents were discussing ideas as how to improve the appearance of the downtown square and surrounding business area. Some of their goals include preservation of historic buildings and places, grants to renovate buildings on the square and add new signage, clean-up and maintenance, sidewalk repairs and beautification, just to name a few. As Dick said, the ACAL is fixing Ava one project at a time.
The ACAL also plans on helping homeowners that can’t afford to make updates to the outside of their homes. They also want to work with people that are renting from absentee landlords and fix up those properties. Improvements include painting, yard work and fixing porches, etc.
If you would like to volunteer with the ACAL the process is simple; attend a meeting, become a member, donate, suggest ideas, work on a project and help get the word out. Meetings are held the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 P.M. at the Boardroom next to the Ava Art Guild.