Ginnie Graham: Resolve to lend your time, talent to volunteering
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
1/02/13 at 3:45 AM
Gifts are all given, tips handed out and end-of-year donations have cleared.
As the new year kicks off, residents of the City of Giving that is Tulsa are planning their philanthropy for 2013.
Giving is not just about dollars and cents. The generosity of self is just as important.
If you can't spare much change, don't despair. Time and talent are equally needed.
Lack of volunteers: For years now, Meals on Wheels has experienced a consistent decline in volunteers.
When the Tulsa nonprofit organization started up in the 1970s, a group of mostly stay-at-home mothers kept it moving.
As their husbands retired, they, too, got involved in delivering meals to homebound residents.
Now those people are aging, some needing the service for which they once volunteered.
Yet baby boomers are remaining in their jobs, and younger people are unable to take off work.
"Our entire program is based on volunteers," said Jill Thompson, director of development and community relations for Tulsa's Meals on Wheels.
"It takes 150 to 200 volunteers a day to deliver meals for the 900 to 950 people we serve daily in Tulsa County. We are one of the largest volunteer organizations in the city. We couldn't do it without volunteers."
Because of the lack of volunteers, some meal routes were reduced to three days a week, leaving frozen meals for clients to heat up on the off days.
The agency is seeking companies who will allow employees an extended lunch period once a week or month as a way to support the community.
Another observation: Once a person starts volunteering with Meals on Wheels, they rarely stop.
"I hear comments like, 'I thought I'd be making someone else feel good, but I feel so much better and get so much back in return,' " Thompson said. "Just talking to a homebound person and knowing you are making a difference brightens their day and puts your life in perspective."
School help: Schools need help more than ever, with slashed budgets and staff reductions.
Once my children entered school, it was natural to pitch in, and a flexible schedule allows me that chance. I wish I had done it earlier.
The students crack me up, make me smile and end up teaching me things.
Many schools have lunch buddy programs, which pair an adult with a student to share a meal once a week.
Schools need mentors for reading, math, music, art and a host of other subjects.
Qualified substitutes are even lacking. Teachers are often asked to give up planning periods to cover an absent instructor's room.
By volunteering in a school, you will not only ease the burden on teachers and help students, you also will learn first-hand the challenges of public education.
Rewarding experience: Those are just two examples of where time and effort would be welcomed.
If those aren't appealing, hundreds of nonprofit and community groups in the Tulsa area need volunteers.
Volunteer Tulsa can steer a person in the right direction, or you can just call an organization directly and ask about its volunteer needs.
With all the resolutions being made, this could be the most rewarding and least expensive to follow through with.
Original Print Headline: Resolve to lend your time to service
Meals on Wheels: 918-627-4103, tulsaworld.com/mealsonwheels
Tulsa Public Schools: 918-746-6306, tulsaworld.com/tps
Volunteer Tulsa: 918 447-1888, tulsaworld.com/volunteertulsa