You cannot do a kindness too soon, 
for you never know how soon it will be too late.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
In This Issue
'Tis the Season to Volunteer 

happy-winter-gloves.jpg Looking for ways to give back to the community during the winter holiday season? We've made it easy to find them by highlighting them on our website. 

Click here to see current needs for holiday volunteers, including helping with tree sales, gift wrapping at retail stores to raise funds for nonprofits, and sorting toy donations. There are also several organizations recruiting donors to contribute gifts, clothing, food, and more, or to organize a gift drive. Check out the donor requests here. And be sure check back frequently as additional opportunities are posted regularly. 
Save the Date: MLK Day of Service, Jan. 18 

Make Monday, Jan. 18--Martin Luther King Jr. Day--a day ON, not a day off! Join thousands of other local residents in honoring Dr. King's life and teachings by taking part in Montgomery County's MLK Day of Service 2016, which will feature a wide variety of family-friendly volunteer projects.

The Volunteer Center is coordinating service activities at three sites that day: at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center, 1-3 pm (this is the largest site and will include a volunteer fair as well as service projects); at the Silver Spring Civic Building, 10 am-12 noon; and at the Seneca Creek Community Church in Gaithersburg, 9-11 am. Projects that have already been planned include assembling care packages for children in foster care, making dog toys for the Humane Society, and cutting shoe patterns to be sewn for children in Uganda. In addition, volunteers will be packaging 50,000 meals for food banks in the county.  

Learn more and sign up today!
Catholic Charities Serves Families in Crisis and More

Catholic CharitiesCatholic Charities McCarrick Family Center in Wheaton often is a first-responder for families in crisis, who turn to the organization for help meeting short-term emergency needs, such as assistance with rent or utilities, food, or even diapers. Once the crisis is addressed, families find the center to be a safe place to tell their stories, find immigration legal services, receive financial literacy coaching, get fresh produce once a month, or secure Christmas presents for their children. 

Catholic Charities McCarrick Family Center staff and volunteers are a family amongst themselves, comprising a close group of individuals all working toward the same mission. Together, these dedicated individuals served more than 4,000 households last fiscal year.

They also experienced the fulfillment that comes from helping those less fortunate. As one food pantry volunteers noted, "I love working with the clients here, especially the children. They come here in such need and I do what I can to bring a smile to their faces." That sentiment gets to the heart of volunteering at Catholic Charities McCarrick Family Center. Often the people served are traumatized, scared, and far from their families. A caring volunteer can make an immediate and positive difference in these people's lives.

Among the organization's current volunteer needs are Spanish-speaking financial aid instructors to teach a budgeting class required for clients who seek rent or utility financial assistance (all materials and curriculum provided); Christmas volunteers to set up and organize donated gifts, distribute gifts, and lead crafts and other children's activities at a holiday fair; donation drive organizers to coordinate collections (through school, church, work, neighborhood, or the like) of food and toiletries for Catholic Charities' food pantry; and mobile produce market volunteers to help distribute donated fresh produce to low-income families/individuals on the second Monday of most months.

The McCarrick Family Center in Wheaton is one of several Catholic Charities' program locations in Montgomery County that serve people in need. Catholic Charities Immigration Center in Gaithersburg provides ESOL classes, job assistance, and immigration legal services. Catholic Charities Community Living programs provides homes for dozens of developmentally disabled adults in apartments and houses in Silver Spring. Catholic Charities JOBS program, located in downtown Silver Spring, provides training and support to help chronically homeless and unemployed people get back into the workforce. And in Rockville, the Welcome Home Reentry Program matches community mentors with people returning to the community from incarceration to successfully transition to stable, productive and law abiding lives.

For more information visit Catholic Charities DC's website
Discover Ways to Work With Disabled Individuals

In honor of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities, commemorated on Dec. 3, the Volunteer Center encourages you to consider ways to serve disabled persons this month and into the new year. Here is a roundup of some opportunities to work directly with youth and adults with developmental disabilities through local organizations. Many are pre-approved for MCPS Student Service Learning hours; check individual descriptions to confirm.

For 50 years, The Arc Montgomery County has been supporting individuals and families affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism and Down syndrome, providing child care and education, work skills training, employment opportunities, community living services, resources, advocacy, and respite. The organization is currently recruiting volunteers to serve as peer mentors to disabled youth ages 11 to 21, essentially hanging out and having fun doing teen-friendly activities weekdays after school. Peer mentors must be at least 16 and complete the volunteer application process, which includes a background check, TB test, and training. The Arc is also seeking volunteers to help manage donations and customer purchases at Urban Thrift, its retail shop in Kensington, which helps to fund the organization's work. For more details, email Deborah Mark or call 301-984-5777.

ArtStream creates artistic opportunities for individuals in communities traditionally underserved by the arts, including those with disabilities. The organization offers interactive workshops and performances in disciplines such as theater, dance, puppetry, and music to help its clients improve social skills, have fun, and increase personal growth. Among its current volunteer needs, ArtStream is looking for individuals to demonstrate activities, support participants in the exercises, and serve as positive role models for its monthly Music and Movement workshops for adults with disabilities. These workshops, presented in partnership with KEEN Greater DC (see below), are held 3-4 pm on the third Sunday of every month at Tilden Middle School in North Bethesda; this month, that's Dec. 20. Volunteers must be at least 14 and can sign up for any or all sessions. ArtStream is also seeking volunteers to serve as on-stage mentors for its Inclusive Theatre productions in Gaithersburg and Arlington as well as volunteers to join its monthly Super Social Saturday "party classes" in Germantown. Email Leah Hunt or call 301-565-4567 to learn more.

KEEN Greater DC (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now) presents a variety of free recreation activities for children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities in its mission to foster their confidence and self-esteem while providing their families with respite and a supportive network. Volunteers work one-on-one with clients on activities suited to each individual's needs and interests, and range from kicking a soccer ball to dancing the Hokey Pokey. Training is provided on the day of volunteer service. December sessions include the following programs held at Tilden Middle School in North Bethesda: Kids Sports (11:30 am-3 pm) and Young Adult Sports (2:30-4:30 pm), both on Sunday, Dec. 6; Teen Sports (11:30 am-3 pm) and Kids Music (11:30 am-2:45 pm), both on Sunday, Dec. 13; and Kids Sports (11:30 am-3 pm), Teens Music (11:30 am-2:45 pm), and KEEN Dance (2:45-4:15 pm), all on Sunday, Dec. 20. In addition, there's a Young Adults Fitness program on Sunday, Dec. 6, 1:40-3 pm, at Washington Sports Club in Bethesda, and KEEN Swim on Saturday, Dec. 19, 4-6:10 pm, at Georgetown Prep School in North Bethesda. Sign up on the KEEN website (but note that activities generally aren't posted until about two weeks in advance). Email Beth Wenger or call 301-770-3200 for more information.

Jubilee Association of Maryland provides companionship and support for adults with developmental disabilities to live in and enrich their communities, and seeks volunteers who believe that caring for and supporting people with developmental disabilities is morally, ethically, and religiously significant. Jubilee offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities, but is most in need of help with the following: assisting with a Hanukkah party in Kensington, Thursday, Dec. 10, 6-8 pm; helping with a Christmas Party in Gaithersburg, Friday, Dec. 18, 6-9 pm; "adopting" a group home for the holidays, or simply visiting to bake cookies, sing songs, or decorate the tree; and socializing on the weekends with a woman who enjoys crafts, art, music, and movies. To learn more about these opportunities, email Alycia Alexander or call 301-949-8628, ext. 114.

There are also lots of opportunities available to help individuals with disabilities through Montgomery County Recreation Department's Therapeutic Programs. These include helping youth with disabilities at after-school programs at community centers across the county and working with adults in the evening as a swim assistant in Germantown, North Bethesda, Olney, or Silver Spring. Click here for more listings, or for more information, email Marco D'Ottavi or call 240-777-6891.
Gear Up to Serve as a Tax-Aide Volunteer 

The RSVP/AARP Tax-Aide Program, which offers free tax preparation assistance for low-to-moderate income taxpayers (with special attention to those age 60+), is preparing for the next tax season and will soon be recruiting volunteers to serve as tax counselors, facilitators/greeters, and schedulers.

Learn about these volunteer opportunities at an orientation session on Friday, Dec. 4, 1-3 pm, at the Silver Spring Library. No registration required. 

RSVP--the Retired Senior Volunteer Program--is a program of the Montgomery County Volunteer Center. Call 240-777-2610 for more information.
Put Your Financial Skills to Great Use

The Mental Health Association's Representative Payee Program is looking for volunteers to work with low-income, disabled Montgomery County residents who need help managing their federal benefits. 

Following successful completion of training and background check, volunteers are assigned to a program client and will typically spend four to six hours a month working with the client to make sure his/her bills are paid and financial obligations are met. Volunteers must be at least 21 years of age and be willing to make a one-year commitment. General knowledge of household budgeting required.

Training is available at MHA's Rockville offices on Thursday, Dec. 10, 6-8:30 pm; Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2-4:30 pm; Wednesday, Jan. 6, 1-3:30 pm; and Tuesday, Jan. 19, 6-8:30 pm.

For more information or to register for one of the upcoming training sessions email Emily Kamin or call her at 301-424-0656, ext. 541.
End the Year as a Volunteer! 
Below are just a few of the opportunities listed on the Volunteer Center's website. Check our calendar of events for more date-specific opportunities, our newest listings for those posted most recently, and use the red box on our home page or at the top of this email to search for more ongoing opportunities. 
SSL Icon
Denotes opportunities that are pre-approved to provide MCPS Student Service Learning (SSL) hours. Many are great opportunities for adults too!  

SSL Icon Craft and Gift Makers: Sunday, Dec. 6, 12 noon-5 pm, Gaithersburg. Get creative while helping others through this Community Support Services event. Volunteers work with individuals with autism and other complex developmental disabilities to help them make holiday crafts and gifts, including wreaths, ornaments, cards, and gingerbread houses. Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Email Ashley Chatneuff or call 301-926-2300.

SSL Icon Master Wrappers: Sunday, Dec. 6, 1-10 pm; Tuesday, Dec. 8, 4-9 pm; and Thursday, Dec. 17, 9 am-3 pm; Barnes & Noble, Rockville. Make customers' purchases ready to give while raising funds for Habitat for Humanity of Metro Maryland. Create a volunteer account and sign up for specific shifts here, email Monet Mason, or call 301-990-1400, ext. 16. 

Hunger Van for the Homeless Helpers: Friday, Dec. 11, 3-5 pm, Potomac. Help prepare sandwiches, soup, and salad for 200-plus homeless individuals. Volunteers are also needed to distribute the food through this interfaith project organized through the Islamic Community Center of Potomac. Email Tasmeea Noor or call 301-706-0739.

SSL Icon Gift Wrappers for Mental Health: Daily, Saturday, Dec. 12, through Thursday, Dec. 24, Lakeforest Mall, Gaithersburg. Wrap gifts at the mall to raise funds for and awareness of Jobs Unlimited, which employs people in Montgomery County who are disabled by serious mental illness. The organization's goal is to provide these individuals with the financial independence and self-worth they need to empower them to stay healthy and live with dignity. Sign up here, email Meredith Bowser, or call 301-738-7723.

Bird Counters: Saturday, Dec. 19, 7 am-4:30 pm, Wheaton Regional Park. Walk the trails around Brookside Nature Center to count and identify winter birds for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, an annual tradition started 115 years ago. The information collected will be tallied with records collected from all over the country and sent to the Cornell Ornithology Lab to help scientists better understand our environment. Email Lynn Vismara or call 301-495-2504.

SSL Icon Winter Solstice Celebration Volunteers: Sunday, Dec. 20, 3-7 pm, Locust Grove Nature Center, Bethesda. Help the Parks Department present a family-friendly celebration of the longest night of the year, which will include roasting chestnuts on an open fire, making treats for animals, and lighting candles. Minimum age: 15. Email Lynn Vismara or call 301-495-2504.

Truancy Prevention Tutors & Mentors: The State's Attorney's Office is looking for tutors (math and/or English/literacy), mentors, and site coordinators to serve its Truancy Prevention Program, which works with more than 150 middle school families in Montgomery County to reduce students' unexcused absences. Historically, 7 out of 10 children in the program experience a 65% reduction in truancy. Volunteers are needed to begin the week of Jan. 18, and are expected to attend orientation, pre-service training, and possibly in-service training and other truancy prevention program events such as student graduation at the end of the program. They should also be committed to attend 10 weekly sessions per semester. Minimum age: 18. References, background check, and reliable transportation required. Email Yasmine Eleazar or call 240-777-7501.

SSL Icon Horseback Riding Assistants: Lead horses and/or sidewalk with riders taking therapeutic horseback riding lessons through Great and Small's program in Boyds for individuals with a wide variety of physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities. Volunteers also help take care of horses before and after lessons. Previous experience with horses is welcome but not required. Volunteer orientation required. Email Rachel Neff or call 301-349-0075.

Smart Sack PackersHelp break the hunger cycle. Fill and transport "Smart Sacks"--bags of nutritious, kid-friendly foods for needy elementary school children to eat during the weekends. Manna Food Center supplies the food items, the Islamic Community Center of Potomac coordinates the volunteer labor, and school counselors distribute the packages to students in need. Email Tasmeea Nooror call 301-706-0739.

SSL Icon Ice Skating Instructional Assistants: Provide the extra hands necessary to provide high quality instruction and improve student success and enthusiasm for ice skating at the county rinks in Wheaton or Cabin John. Under the supervision of the skating director, instructional assistants are assigned to help group lesson instructors in the rink's "Learn to Skate" program on Thursdays (4:45-8:15 pm), Fridays (4:45-6:15 pm), Saturdays (10:15 am-1:30 pm), and Sundays (11 am-3:45 pm). Skilled ice skaters only. Go to Montgomery Parks' volunteer website, click on Search and Apply, and then click on Wheaton Ice Arena or Cabin John Ice Rink to learn more or apply.

Literacy Council Administrative Support: Provide front desk/office support to the Literacy Council of Montgomery County (located in Rockville), assisting callers/visitors, handling data entry, copying/filing documents, and related tasks. Minimum age: 18. Hours are flexible within regular office hours, but a commitment of at least two hours per week is desired. Volunteers should be patient, proficient in MS Office, and fluent in English. Email Béa Strattner or call 301-610-0030.
Happy Birthday to a Volunteer Centenarian

Ed Garbe
Edward Garbe celebrates with one of his fans at the Gilchrist Center
How old is too old to volunteer? For Edward Garbe, a long-time volunteer with the Charles W. Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity, the answer seems to be never. Garbe just celebrated his 102nd birthday, probably making him the oldest volunteer in Montgomery County and one of the oldest in the world.

Garbe, a retired engineer, has been volunteering with various organizations for 55 years, with the last six-plus years serving clients at the Gilchrist Center in Gaithersburg. He particularly appreciates how exciting it is to interact with people from different parts of the globe through his service at the Gilchrist Center. "I find this very interesting and instructive. I have never been associated with so many people from different countries at one time. I speak about this constantly when I am out with my friends and society in general."
Subscribe to Our Partner Newsletters

The Montgomery County Volunteer Center is part of the Office of Community Partnerships, which works to strengthen the relationship between the Montgomery County government and the residents it serves, with special emphasis on underserved and emerging communities. Subscribe to the monthly OCP newsletter to keep up these activities. 

Follow these links to subscribe to our other partner agencies' electronic publications:
Montgomery County Volunteer Center - Office of Community Partnerships |
12900 Middlebrook Road
Suite 1600
Germantown, MD 20874
 (240) 777-2600