United Way of Greater Lafayette
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Volunteer Needs Column

September 30, 2011


 Won't You Be My Neighbor? A Place-Based Approach to Volunteering  



Neighbors help neighbors.

Every day, they use their time and their gifts to strengthen families and communities.

Many, especially those living in under-resourced communities, work hard to deal with the challenges of communities where unemployment, violence, and drugs are taking their toll. In the face of these obstacles, community residents look to each other for the connections to vital resources that will improve their odds of succeeding.


The good news is that volunteering is already present in under-resourced communities; it is crucial to the lives of everyone in them.

- A neighbor guides children across a busy intersection on the way to school.

- A young friend makes meals for an elderly woman confined to a wheelchair.

- A next-door neighbor takes care of a single mom's small children while she attends night school.


Neighbors are helping neighbors in communities everywhere.

The service that takes place in low-income communities, however, is often informal, organic, and not recognized as volunteering-even by those who do it. The term we use for neighbors stepping in to take care of others in our communities is Neighboring.  


Neighboring is an asset- and empowerment-based approach to community action that engages underserved and under-resourced community members to find innovative, sustainable solutions to address local challenges. Describing neighboring as asset-based acknowledges that all members of a community can offer something to improve the community.  

Neighboring is a place-based way of volunteering that builds on the talents and resources of local residents to strengthen families and elevate struggling communities into flourishing, vibrant places to live. It is about the connections among residents that support positive individual and community behavior based on mutual respect, responsibility, and ownership.


Neighboring is most successful in communities that lack access to the typical resources that promote self-sufficiency, such as food, clothing, jobs, and health care.


Neighboring projects may be initiated by outside organizations, but the ultimate goal of these projects is to have neighborhood residents take ownership of the projects and to support their neighborhoods. Here, the sponsoring organization's primary role is as a catalyst: it empowers residents to lead their own projects with their own volunteers from their own community and, in doing so, to use their own talents.


This approach places the focus and organization of the initiative on the residents-putting residents in  charge of projects because they know best what their neighborhoods need . This approach allows the agency to step back when a critical mass is achieved with neighboring and ensure sustainability of the effort.


Projects don't have to be initiated by an outside organization, though. Neighbors can come together to make the changes they want to see in their neighborhood, whether it's cleaner streets, safe places for children to play, or trying to make their neighborhoods safer.


Over the next few weeks, we're going to look at how neighboring can help to bring in your community and ways to integrate it into existing volunteer programs. Our goal is to inspire, equip, and mobilize more nonprofit organizations to see their most challenged communities as places of promise-places where resident skills, talents, and desires are seen as wealth oon which to capitalize in order to create sustained, lasting change.

~article provided by HandsOn


What's New This Week?   


Be a Stable Person in a Child's Life  

Sunnyside 5th & 6th graders are in need of some lunchtime mentors and after school homework helpers. The children are no longer elementary but not quite middle school and they are in need of some extra support. Lunch times are between 10:39 am - 1:35pm in four different lunch periods. If you would like to be a stable person in a young person's life contact Debbie Gutwein by email or call 771-6100 x 8429.


Christmas for Everyone

Christmas for Everyone is a community ministry of compassion organized by the Tippecanoe Evangelical Association of Ministers and Ministries and the American Red Cross to provide Christmas gifts for children in need int eh Greater Lafayette area. Volunteers are in need to help with registration and data entry from 9am - 5pm. Shifts vary depending on availability, but ideally done in 4 hour increments. Bi-lingual in Spanish is a plus! For more information or to sign up contact Jennifer by  email or call 742-6975 x 2215.

If interested in learning about more volunteer opportunities, contact Amy at the United Way Volunteer Center or visit:


Week of Caring


Evonik at TCCC

 Evonik at Tippecanoe County Child Care East 

Court Services
Tippecanoe Court Services at Cumberland Pointe Luau

CAP serving dinner at Lafayette Transitional Housing Center 

Learn more about the United Way

Do you want to find out more about what the United Way of Greater Lafayette is all about? Visit the website


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Now accepting applications for United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Last tax season we were able to assist in over $205,500 in returns to low income families. Now we need your help to ensure this program is a success again. VITA is your opportunity to help low income families in our community. We will provide free training and certification to prepare taxes beginning in January 2012. VITA is a WIN WIN WIN program. Our community wins because tax dollars that are saved can be spent locally to boost the economy. The client wins because taxes are prepared accurately and for free saving an average of $200. As a volunteer you win because this is a great opportunity to give back while also learning how to prepare your own return. To volunteer or for more information about VITA contact Jennifer Million at (756) 742-9077 ext. 227, text (765) 237-2344 or visit our website.




No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.
 ~James Allen

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*On-Going Volunteer Needs*


Walk and Roll
Walk and Roll along with Wabash Center on October 15th at Market Square. Volunteers are needed for set up at 8am, registration at 9am and on the route from 9:30 - 11:30am, then clean up and out by noon. To sign up, call 765-423-5531 or email
Rhonda today!

Keep America Beautiful
Volunteers are needed to assist with a Free E-Waste Recycling event being held at James Cole Elementary on October 29th from 8am - 2pm in 2 hour shifts. Will need to do some heavy lifting. For more information contact

Winter is around the corner...do you have a coat?
The Salvation Army is having their annual Winter Warm Up on November 5th. Winter coats and clothing will be passed out to community families and individuals. If you would like to donate or volunteer please call 742-0006 or email today.

A Child's voice. A child's life. Lifted up. By you. 

Learn how you can be a voice for an abused or neglected child. How you can make a difference. Tippecanoe County CASA is currently recruiting for a training series that will begin on October 25th. Call 765-423-9104 or email today to find out how YOU can make a difference in the life of a child in Tippecanoe County. Act now - a child is waiting for your voice.

Are you Hungry?

Sign up to volunteer to help feed the hungry in our community! St. John's/LUM Food Pantry are looking for people to help pass out food on any of the days, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday mornings from 8:30am - 12pm. Typically once a month. For more information email Jane or call 463-6158.


Are you Cool for Cool School? 

Tippecanoe County Child Care's after school program "Cool School" is looking for volunteers to help children with homework Monday - Thursday from 3:00 - 4:00pm at Miller and Earhart elementary schools. This can be ongoing or once, part or full week and/or all of the hour and a half. If interested in becoming a Cool School helper, email Jennifer or call 765-742-4033 x 119.


Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 

Tippecanoe Villa are looking for a group of 4 volunteers on November 22nd and 23rd from 8 or 9am - 12 or 1pm to set up Christmas trees with the lights only. They need to be set up and ready to decorate before Thanksgiving. If interested, email Judi.  


Let your inner Zombie Out! 

Indiana Fields of Fear are taking applications for actors and actresses (or would be actors and actresses) to utilize their talents as cast members of a Haunted House Attraction. If you can't wait to really get into character, if your favorite think is being someone or "something" else for a while, if you think scaring people would be the best thing possible, this is exactly what you have been looking for. Contact fieldsoffear@yahoo.com and find out how you can be a Zombie this Halloween season!

 Help Feed a Hungry Family

Bauer Family Resources is looking for a volunteer to assist families in receiving food assistance at their food pantry. Volunteer would be responsible for completing intake paperwork and determining eligibility. This position would be on Thursdays from 12 - 2:30pm.  If this is right for you, please email Cassie or call her at 765-742-5046. Great opportunity to give back to the community!