Volunteer Gigs We Love: Snap Out of the Winter Blues With a Local Non-Profit

Spring is here! At least, it’s trying pretty hard in between all that frost and icy rain. But there’s work to be done and fun to be had. Below is a roundup of just a few of the many volunteer activities that will snap you out of the winter malaise and get you connected to other active Corvallisites.

Habitat for Humanity 2012 women build

Benton Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing worldwide and creating hope through homeownership in Benton County. “Volunteers assist us in every step of this mission: homebuilding, raising funds, and lending a hand up to our partner families,” said Program Coordinator Stephanie Sprauer.

The volunteer base at Benton Habitat is diverse. “People from all incomes, faiths, perspectives and walks of life to work together in partnership, building homes and community with partner-families,” said Sprauer.

Weekly construction volunteer opportunities open to anyone age 16 and over occur every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. No experience is necessary. Sign up online at https://bentonhabitat.volunteermatrix.com.

For all the ladies out there, Benton Habitat is participating in National Women Build Week, May 4 to 12. The organization needs women age 16 and over to help with a wall-raising on May 11. To participate, contact Hilary at fdm@bentonhabitat.org.

“We are always looking for individual and group volunteers throughout the entire organization. If you have a talent or skill to share, we’d love to meet you!” Sprauer said.

Corvallis Environmental Center’s mission is to educate, engage, and inspire people to create a healthy, sustainable community. “Volunteers are integral to the CEC achieving this mission. We work with about 800 volunteers a year, from 8 to 80 years old and from all walks of life,” said office manager Sara Kellogg.

Lark, a volunteer at a Tuesday evening SAGE Garden work party, harvesting in the fall. Photo by Deanna Lloyd.

The SAGE garden has a weekly need for volunteers to weed, cleanup, and have fun while getting dirty on Tuesdays from 4 to 6:30 p.m., April through October.

If your idea of working for the community involves live music and dancing, sign up to help with Earth Ball 2013 on April 20 from 7 p.m. to midnight at Corvallis Odd Fellows Hall. Earth Ball is a fundraiser and Earth Day celebration. Besides the music, there will be Earth Faire eco-exhibits, local food and drink, a costume contest with prizes, and a mask-making station. With three hours of volunteering the day of the event, a volunteer gains free admission for the whole party. Don’t forget to bring your costume!

If you would like to volunteer or have questions about either of the above events, email info@corvallisenvironmentalcenter.org.

The CEC is also sponsoring Cooped Up in Corvallis, an annual tour of chicken and duck coops on Sunday, May 19 from noon to 4 p.m. Learn about this growing movement in sustainable living and discover fun facts about coops and backyard fowl! They need help directing the public at host sites, taking pictures, and assisting with a variety of workshops at the event’s headquarters. All volunteers get to go on the coop tour for free. It’s a 2.5-hour time commitment on the day of the event. Email ECI@corvallisenvironmentalcenter.org for more information or to reserve your place.

Linn-Benton Food Share believes that no one should be hungry, so the group works to eliminate hunger in Linn and Benton counties. Gleaning and Volunteer Programs Coordinator Susan James said, “We have a very small staff, less than seven employees, and we distribute over 5.3 million pounds of food a year. We would not be able to do that without an army of dedicated volunteers.”

The Food Share hosts a community open house the last Thursday of every month from 6 to 8 p.m. at its warehouse. It’s open to families with children, individuals, and groups. Volunteers repackage bulk food items and sort and box canned and dry foods. This is a great way to start volunteering, and an excellent opportunity for families to volunteer together.

Several one-time volunteer opportunities are available throughout the year as well. Annual events include the Spring Food Drive and the Corvallis Half Marathon, both in April, and the Postal Carrier’s Food Drive in May. Details for all these events are at the Linn-Benton Food Share Facebook page.

James has many wonderful anecdotes about her volunteers. There is the volunteer whose concern after getting a triple bypass was how quickly he could get back to work, and the small children who don’t want to leave after their volunteer work is done.

“We have many volunteers who have started volunteering by coming out on school field trips when they were in grade school and are now parents bringing their own children out. It has become a family tradition in many homes,” James said.

Start your own tradition: learn more about your community and volunteer for one of our many local non-profits.

by Bridget Egan