Volunteers find opportunities in Highland Park’s Volunteer Pool
Marietta Stevens at her home in Highland Park. Stevens is the new executive director of the Volunteer Pool of Highland Park. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media.
TITLE: Executive director of the Volunteer Pool of Highland Park
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “We get a lot of newly-retired people who are starting a new life and want to volunteer. They are always great volunteers.”
CONTACT: (847) 433-2190 or www.volunteerpoolhp.org
Updated: February 19, 2013 9:32AM
HIGHLAND PARK — For almost 50 years, residents generous with their time and talents have offered their services through the Volunteer Pool of Highland Park.
Funded by contributions, the nonprofit agency matches requests from local organizations with individuals who can fill the need. The Highland Park News recently spoke with Marietta Stevens, a community wellness nurse who is the executive director of the Volunteer Pool.
Q: If a volunteer can commit some time on a fairly regular basis, what kinds of needs are out there?
A: You, as a volunteer, have many different sites that need your help. You could help deliver meals to homebound citizens a day each week. You could help a student with his homework in an after-school program or mentor a child. You could be a friendly visitor to a senior citizen, help do water testing at one of our parks or help the homeless at a shelter. Our community has wonderful volunteers that do all of these services and much more. We get a lot of newly-retired people who are starting a new life and want to volunteer. They are always great volunteers.
Q: If a working professional occasionally has some free weekend time, are there opportunities to volunteer?
A: Yes. There are events that come up on weekends such as the Cancer Society Run/Walk or Beach Clean-up Day. The Volunteer Pool sends out an alert that volunteers are needed on a specific date. “Faith in Action” can use friendly visitors for the weekend and the Northern Illinois Food Bank has Saturday morning hours. You could also do baking in your own home for a hospice patient.
Q: How do you go about matching individuals with their assignments?
A: We focus on an individual approach. We talk or meet with the volunteer to find out their interests, skills or talents to find the best fit for their volunteer experience. We try to give each person a couple of options so they can choose to contact the agency. This year, a woman who lives outside the country contacted me and wanted someone to visit her father with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home in Highland Park. I was able to find a young mother whose own grandmother had Alzheimer’s. She felt comfortable going into that setting and just reading to him.
Q: What do you see as the value of the one-stop-shopping approach that the Volunteer Pool of Highland Park provides, both for the agencies in need of help and the individuals looking for a way to contribute?
A: We are continually checking in with local agencies to assess their volunteer needs. The Volunteer Pool is a great way for everything to come together: The interests and talents of the volunteers and the needs of the agencies.