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“Marin County volunteer fair attracts hundreds” and is hailed a success

April 13, 2015

Thanks to all of you who attended the 1st annual Marin County Volunteer Fair on Saturday. We estimate that over 500 people attended to connect with over 35 nonprofits and hundreds of volunteer opportunities. We would really like to thank our presenting partners, The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Marin Health & Human Services, and Civic Center Volunteers, for teaming with us to make the Volunteer Fair a huge success! You can read all about it in the following article from Sunday’s Marin Independent Journal.

Don’t worry if you missed us. You can still go to www.VolunteerMarin.org to connect to hundreds of volunteer opportunities in Marin. We plan to be back next year.

 

“Marin County volunteer fair attracts hundreds”
By Adrian Rodriguez, Marin Independent Journal
Printed on Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dave Mandel, a retired teacher from Fairfax, chats with Hector Zaragoza, volunteer coordinator at San Rafael’s Canal Alliance, during the Marin County Volunteer Fair. Alan Dep — Marin Independent Journal

With 39 nonprofits at the Marin County Volunteer Fair Saturday, Monique Turner flipped through each agency’s display like pages in a catalogue, until the opportunity to work with seniors caught her eye.
“The reality is, we are all going to age and need help from a community,” Turner, 64, said. “I’m really interested in helping seniors.”

Claire Lanyado, operations manager for Marin Villages, talks to a vistor at the Marin County Volunteer Fair. Alan Dep — Marin Independent Journal

Turner, a retired Novato resident, was among more than 300 opportunity seekers who turned out for the volunteer fair at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato.

The event, which was a kick off for national volunteer week, was the first time the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Marin Civic Center and the Buck Institute to host a collaborative fair.

Anton Timms, director of volunteer services for the volunteer center, organized the event to be a “one-stop shop,” he said. “Our main goal is for the nonprofits to have long-term volunteers, so we work on connecting the volunteers with the agencies.”

And while the fair presented a variety of opportunities, from art to counseling to recreation — for volunteers of any age and background — Turner, a retired registered nurse, fit the profile that the Buck Institute was interested in attracting.

“Retired volunteers are so amazingly reliable, conscientious and they stay forever,” Mary McEachron of the Buck Institute, said. “And we’re in Marin. Look around. There are a lot of people who need help — and retired people have the time.”

HAPPY LIVING

Timms mentioned that they worked with a psychologist who made a connection with happiness, successful aging and volunteerism. And by linking retired people with agencies that help the elderly, both parties benefit from the experience.

Dave Mandel, 74, of Fairfax is one such example.
“I was forced into retirement when I was 70,” Mandel said. “I got very disheartened and getting into volunteerism is doing so much for me.”

Mandel volunteers with the Civic Center and often works on behalf of the Novato Friends of the Library. “I’m looking for new things for myself,” he said. “What I’ve discovered here is there are incredible, amazing things for people in Marin.”

Similarly, Karen Lamb, 71, is retired and looking to improve her livelihood.
“When you have involvement with something, it contributes to your quality of life,” the San Rafael resident said.

But then there were attendees like Carl Schuler, 46, of San Rafael. He is a U. S. Army veteran and student at the University of San Francisco studying behavioral health.

“I’m interested in the CASA program, which is like being a big brother for children that experienced abuse,” he said referring to the Marin Advocates for Children program. “Abuse is something where you want to stand up for somebody in harm.”

EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS

When the event was halfway through, Timms said he was pleased.

“I think it was a great outcome. More than 300 people signed in, which was our initial goal,” he said. “I hope every nonprofit leaves with 10 to 20 volunteers that will remain with their agency.”

The Marin Advocates for Children had 10 sign ups. Canal Alliance, which helps Spanish-speaking immigrants get work permits and apply for jobs, had more than 25 people signed up. And Turner, the retired nurse, said she found herself signing up to apply for LITA (Love is the Answer), where volunteers become companions for the elderly in senior living facilities, and for Marin Villages, a community of member-volunteers who rely on each other to facilitate independent living.

“I just think there is a huge need for people to help seniors who have needs,” Turner said. “I would go with my dog to visit. I want to be a companion. I just want to hang out with ladies and paint their nails and do their hair,” she smiled.

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