By Sharmilee Rahman and Michael Vyskocil
Nonprofit organizations across Frederick County work each day to meet the needs of this community. During the holiday season and throughout the year, many organizations need volunteer support. If you’re looking for ways to encourage the spirit of volunteering within your family, consider volunteering your time to help a few of these Frederick County organizations.
Assist People with Disabilities
The Arc of Frederick County relies on dedicated volunteers to help people with disabilities in the community. According to Shauna Mulcahy, director of community engagement for the Arc of Frederick County, The Arc “provides support and services to over 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities in the Frederick community.”
If you’re interested in supporting the work of The Arc, you may want to consider getting your family involved in the following volunteer opportunities:
*Monthly Parents’ Day Out Program: One Saturday per month, The Arc provides four hours of respite time for parents of children with disabilities. Ideally suited for teens, college students and adults, this program includes helping with group activities such as dance, theater, music and more.
*Remote Volunteer: Connect with people The Arc supports via Zoom and teach them how to learn new skills, play games, read stories or connect to socialize.
*Sibshops: The Arc provides a program for siblings of people with developmental disabilities. These programs take place one Saturday a month at The Arc’s downtown Frederick location. Volunteers participate in the various activities held during the workshop.
Learn more about The Arc of Frederick County by visiting arcfc.org.
Build Friendships Through a Summer of Service
In partnership with United Way of Frederick County, the YMCA of Frederick County offers opportunities for youth ages 12 to 17 to set time aside during their summer to volunteer, develop leadership skills and make lifelong friendships through Summer Serve.
Summer Serve allows youth to learn about different areas of need in Frederick County through hands-on service work at Frederick County nonprofits. By performing these service projects, youth gain knowledge, motivation, skills and values that can help them develop their leadership abilities.
During Leadership Week, held at the end of summer, Summer Serve participants can further expand on their leadership experiences and learn how to become catalysts for change in Frederick County.
For more information on Summer Serve programming, email Evan Bates at [email protected] or visit frederickymca.org.
Help Homeless Youth
Homelessness is a difficult condition to encounter as an adult, but it can impact children in big ways too, particularly when it comes to education. “One of the most dire circumstances related to poverty is the possibility of homelessness, which can create an even more devastating impact for students,” says Dr. Theresa R. Alban, superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools. “The impact of poverty on academic achievement is well documented. The challenge of poverty and homelessness is not something a school system can resolve alone.”
Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership (SHIP) of Frederick County works to reduce obstacles to academic attainment for youth who are experiencing homelessness by connecting them with community resources and youth-centered programs.
You and your kids can help SHIP this holiday season by collecting hygiene items for Frederick County’s homeless youth during the month of December. Contact SHIP at 240-415-8971 or visit shipfrederick.com to find Frederick County businesses sponsoring collection boxes.
Perform Community Service Through United Way
The Volunteer Center at United Way of Frederick County arranges for projects to support Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) households or serve the general Frederick County community. United Way’s Volunteer Center also hosts projects ranging from the Volunteers in Tax Assistance (VITA) program to a Stuff the Bus school-supply drive and Summer Serve. VITA uses the skills of volunteers to help local residents with their taxes.
Families, individuals or groups can subscribe to United Way’s newsletter or visit unitedwayfrederick.org for more information about volunteer opportunities with United Way of Frederick County.
Provide Food for Those in Need
The City of Frederick offers several volunteer opportunities geared toward family participation. Families are welcome at Frederick Community Action Agency’s (FCAA) sponsored soup kitchen and food bank. These volunteer opportunities are a great way to introduce your family to the idea of volunteering.
Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age. Those volunteering will spend time serving in the soup kitchen and performing duties at the food bank.
According to the Frederick Community Action Agency website, duties for the volunteers include sorting food, restocking shelves, light cleaning, serving food, and recordkeeping to track the number of families using the food bank. More information on these opportunities can be found at cityoffrederickmd.gov/362/Soup-Kitchen-Program.
The FCAA operates from the George L. Shields Food Bank, serving between 600 and 800 households each month. The food bank provides a three- to five-day food supply to each household. Households can consist of low-income families that regularly use its services or moderate-income families experiencing economic hardship.
These are only some of the nonprofit organizations within Frederick County making a difference in the lives of residents. If you have a volunteer opportunity suited for families in the Frederick County area, email us at [email protected].