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Issue Date: December 2009


Get Involved: Check Out Our Guide to Find an Organization That Fits Your Interests


Jennifer Keirn
TIME COMMITMENT
REQUIRED


= Flexible/varies
= A few hours a month
= A few hours a week
HOUSING, POVERTY and CRISIS

The Cleveland Foodbank
clevelandfoodbank.org, (216) 738-2265


Think of it as the mother ship for Northeast Ohio hunger centers. In the past year, the Cleveland Foodbank has collected and distributed 27 million pounds of food and served 450 food pantries, shelters and hot meal programs in six counties. Demand is up 26 percent this year, the biggest yearly increase in the Foodbank’s 30-year history.

DO: Help in the warehouse sorting and packaging food, or prep hot meals in the Cleveland Community Kitchen.

DONATE: Every dollar buys four meals, or donate one of the “super six” most-needed items: beef stew, canned soup, canned vegetables, cereal, peanut butter or tuna fish.

ALSO CONSIDER: Lakewood Christian Service Center, Lakewood, lcsclakewood.org, (216) 226-6466; Euclid Hunger Task Force, Euclid, euclidhungercenter.com, (216) 731-3329; Maple Heights Food Pantry, Maple Heights, (216) 365-2842


Friend-to-Friend

lutheranmetro.org/index.php/friend-to-friend, (216) 861-183


On the premise that everyone needs a friend, Friend-to-Friend matches volunteers with same-gender inmates at local state prisons and asks them to simply visit once a month for a few hours. “You don’t have to worry about what to talk about; it’s more about listening than anything else,” says program manager Steve Messner, himself a volunteer who’s on his seventh match since 1996. Messner asks for a one-year commitment from volunteers though some matches have lasted up to five years. More than 180 formerly incarcerated locals have benefited from Friend-to-Friend while 37 inmates are currently receiving visits.

DO: Men in particular are needed for matches with male inmates at Grafton Correctional Institution in Lorain County, and women receive matches at the Northeast Pre-Release Center downtown.


Building Hope in the City
buildinghopeinthecity.org, (216) 281-4673


When 15 Burundian refugees showed up on the doorstep of Building Hope in the City three years ago, the staff discovered how little support was available for the growing number of refugees resettled here. “There are 500 to 600 refugees resettled in [Northeast Ohio] each year,” says Building Hope’s Brian Upton. ”Catholic Charities, [the government-contracted case managers for local refugees], gets only six months of dollars from the government to resettle them; then, they have to move on.” To help ease that transition, Building Hope started The Hope Center for Refugees and Immigrants, which provides mentoring and support for new arrivals.

DO: “Adopt” a refugee family to visit once a week to be a friend, shop with them or help with other basic tasks. “You’d be surprised by how much your presence helps them in their confidence when they have their new American friend in line with them at Kmart,” Upton says.

DONATE: Funds help provide English classes for refugee families, after-school programming for their children, and transportation to jobs and
appointments.

ALSO CONSIDER: Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, regionwide, clevelandcatholiccharities.org/mrs, (216) 281-7005


Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
clevelandrapecrisis.org, (216) 619-6194


The only free advocacy organization for victims of sexual violence in Cuyahoga County provides crisis support through its 24-hour hot line and ongoing justice system advocacy and therapy to 10,000 people every year.

DO: Staff the crisis hot line, or serve as a face-to-face advocate for victims of sexual assault. No experience is required, and the rape crisis center provides 40 hours of free training. >>

DONATE: Useful items include girly stuff such as nail polish and perfume for the center’s teen empowerment conference, Girls Kick Butt, or personal care items for survivors in the emergency department. Every $1,000 pays for 20 therapy hours for an adult rape survivor.

ALSO CONSIDER: Lorain County Rape Crisis Center, Lorain, (440) 282-2795; Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties, Akron, rccmsc.org, (330) 374-0740, ext.122; Lake County Victim Assistance Program, Painesville, (440) 360-2691


Women’s Center of Greater Cleveland
womensctr.org, (216) 651-1450


This drug and alcohol treatment program for women served 2,100 women and their families last year, providing support not just to kick their habits but also to stabilize the life circumstances that often cause relapse.

DO: Become a part of the Women’s Center’s unique annual fundraising event — a three-day sports festival called run,jane,run. It’s a women-only golf outing, volleyball tournament, and 5K and 10K race in one. Graduates of the center share their stories.

DONATE: Clothes and personal care items for women and children are always needed, and cash donations support treatment and child care for indigent women.

ALSO CONSIDER: Freedom House for Women, Akron, fh4women.org, (330) 785-9720


Rebuilding Together
rebuildingtogethercleveland.org, (216) 556-3265


Helping Clevelanders stay in their homes is the goal of Rebuilding Together, which hosts Rebuilding Day every summer to repair and rehab the homes of low-income families and seniors. “The typical home-owner we serve has been in their home 35 years and needs help with the cost and labor to maintain their home,” says executive director Sheila Lee. “Otherwise, they’re often cited by housing court or experience enormous energy bills.” Last year 200 Cleveland homeowners applied, but funds were available for only 20 homes to be rehabbed.

DO: Rebuilding Day is June 26, 2010. Rebuilding Together will supply the tools. You bring the elbow grease for everything from painting and minor carpentry to landscaping and trash removal. Tradespeople are particularly needed.

DONATE: Contributions help with the cost of the paint, brushes, work gloves and other supplies.

ALSO CONSIDER: Habitat for Humanity of Ohio, regionwide, habitatforhumanityofohio.org to search for local affiliate


The City Mission
thecitymission.org, (216) 431-3510 
-

Next year marks 100 years of The City Mission’s work with the homeless, urban poor and incarcerated in Cleveland. The organization relies on about 900 active volunteers to serve 3,500 men, women and children with basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing.

DO: Serve a meal, visit an inmate, sort donated clothing, tutor youth, or teach life skills or résumé-writing classes to homeless men and women.

DONATE: Eighty percent of your monetary donation goes directly to The City Mission’s services, or consider donating such items as diapers, twin sheet sets for its 254 beds or used washers, dryers, vans or kitchen appliances.

ALSO CONSIDER: Haven of Rest Ministries, Akron, havenofrest.org, (330) 535-1563; Refuge of Hope Ministries, Canton, refugeofhope.com, (330) 453-1785; Catholic Charities Family Centers, regionwide, clevelandcatholiccharities.org, (216) 334-2900


HEALTH, DISABILITIES & THE ELDERLY

The MetroHealth System
metrohealth.org, (216) 778-7800
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Forget those candy striper stereotypes; today, volunteerism at MetroHealth Medical Center goes way beyond Jell-O delivery. Join a volunteer force 600-plus strong at the main campus of MetroHealth Medical Center or at one of its 12 outpatient health centers or two skilled-nursing centers. Volunteers can read to pediatric patients in outpatient clinics or interview long-term care patients and collect their memories for family members.

DO: Professional and amateur musicians and vocalists are needed to perform for patients and families through Metro’s new Spirit of Music program.

DONATE: Give to the MetroHealth fund that hits closest to your heart, such as the Oncology Patient Care, Education and Research Fund for cancer support or the Care for Those in Need Fund to support care for the needy.

ALSO CONSIDER: Summa Health System, Akron area, summahealth.org, (330) 375-3247; Cleveland Clinic, regionwide, my.clevelandclinic.org, (216) 445-6986


Easter Seals Northern Ohio

noh.easterseals.com, (440) 324-6600


This national nonprofit has deep Ohio roots, starting with its founding by Elyria businessman Edgar Allen in 1919. Today, Easter Seals Northern Ohio serves adults and kids with disabilities in 27 counties with medical, educational and recreational services.

DO: Man the scavenger hunt at Walk With Me, lend a party-planning hand at the Single in the City Bachelor & Bachelorette Auction, or help children and adults with disabilities fish and do crafts at the summer day camps or adult day programs.

DONATE: Donations fund such programs as camperships to help parents of children with disabilities afford special-needs camps or medical equipment loans to needy families.

ALSO CONSIDER: New Avenues to Independence, Cleveland, newavenues.net, (216) 481-1907; Hattie Larlham, Mantua, hattielarlham.org, (330) 274-2272


Youth Challenge
youthchallengesports.com, (440) 892-1001


This sports program for kids with physical disabilities goes beyond just providing adaptive equipment. It pairs teen volunteers one-to-one with participants to create fun and friendships through bowling, ice hockey, golf, fishing and more. Older participants are also mobilized to volunteer according to their abilities.

DO: Send your 12- to 18-year-olds to help with after-school sports programs. Many start coming to fulfill school service requirements, says Youth Challenge’s Sarah Perez-Stable, “but the more they come, it becomes a place to hang with their friends.”

DONATE: Transportation and programming is free to participants, so your $1,500 gift sponsors one child for one year.


The Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland
thefreeclinic.org, (216) 721-4010
-

The largest free clinic in Ohio serves 10,000 patients a year with basic medical and dental services, HIV/AIDS testing and education, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and more. Volunteers keep the doors open. They outnumber paid staff 5-to-1, which includes only two part-time physicians and two full-time nurse practitioners.

DO: The Free Clinic needs plenty of health care professionals to volunteer. Others receive training to help with the HIV/AIDS testing program, patient intake, and health education and community outreach events.

DONATE: A large majority of donations go directly to patient care and pharmaceutical costs.

ALSO CONSIDER: Lake County Free Medical and Dental Clinic, Painesville, lakefreeclinic.org, (440) 352-8686; Lorain County Free Clinic, Lorain, lcfreeclinic.org, (440) 277-6641; Open M Free Clinic, Akron, openm-ministry.org, (330) 434-0110


Jennings Center for Older Adults
jenningscenter.org, (216) 581-2900


The nonprofit Jennings Center boasts something for every senior, from independent and assisted living to nursing and specialized Alzheimer’s care in a campus setting. But don’t expect stark walls and somber moods here — residents can visit the on-site beauty shop and wellness center, hit the gift shop, participate in games and activities or play with local kids in the colocated child care center. “This isn’t your grandmother’s nursing home anymore,” says CEO Martha Kutik.

DO: Help transport residents from their rooms to the beauty shop, offer your Hands Helping Hands with basic nail care and hand/arm massage, or participate in Jennings’ pet therapy program or special events.

DONATE: Donations help subsidize care for the 75 percent of nursing home residents on Medicaid, on which Jennings loses $30 a day per patient.

ALSO CONSIDER: The Advocate of Not-for-Profit Services for Older Ohioans, aopha.org and search for member facilities by county


KIDS/EDUCATION

RePlay for Kids
replayforkids.org, 866-9-REPLAY


Case Western Reserve University biomedical engineer Bill Memberg responded to an ad 20 years ago looking for help fixing toys for kids with disabilities. Tinkering with adapted toys “because it was fun” led Memberg to found RePlay for Kids in 1999, which now adapts and repairs toys for 19 agencies in eight counties.

DO: Recruit 10 or more friends for a few hours to add specialized switches to toys that allow kids with disabilities to activate them with a puff on a tube or a head movement. RePlay will visit you, and there’s no technical experience required though Memberg does need handy folks to oversee workshops.

DONATE: Give new or gently used battery-operated toys or money to help Memberg purchase toys, tools and supplies.


The Intergenerational School
tisonline.org, (216) 721-0120


Tutoring is hardly the word to describe volunteers’ contributions at The Intergenerational School, a 208-student community charter elementary school located inside Fairhill Partners Center for Aging. Older adults are integral to the school’s curriculum and culture, which even welcomes individuals suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. And it’s working: Intergenerational School received the state’s highest academic rating of “excellent” last year.

DO: The school’s greatest need is for “reading mentors” to work one-on-one on reading skills, but volunteers can also oversee a hobby club, be an arts mentor or participate in Chess for Success.

DONATE: Contribute school supplies, computer equipment or furniture, or visit adoptaclassroom.com to sponsor an Intergenerational School class.

ALSO CONSIDER: Experience Corps, throughout Cleveland Metropolitan School District,
greaterclevelandvolunteers.org, (216) 391-9500


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland
bbbs.org, (216) 621-8223


“We do just one thing: Place a caring adult in the life of a child,” says CEO Margaret Mitchell. In school and community settings, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes mentoring matches between volunteers and youth at various stages of the at-risk scale. The organization oversaw more than 1,000 matches last year.

DO: A “Big” is required only to establish a relationship with their matched “Little” and then have some fun — catch a Cavs game, go fishing, drop by their school for lunch, or drive them to a college visit. “When you’re talking about making real transformational change [in a child’s life], it’s made through relationships,” Mitchell says. The average match lasts 2 1/2 years, though Big Brothers Big Sisters asks for a one-year commitment.

DONATE: A $1,000 gift supports the creation and support of one match for one year.

ALSO CONSIDER: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Summit/Medina Counties, Akron (330) 376-6503 and Medina (330) 725-8455, bbbssmc.org; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Ohio, Painesville, bbbsneo.org, (440) 352-2526


Seeds of Literacy
seedsofliteracy.org, (216) 661-7950


Dropout rates are high among classroom-style GED and adult literacy programs, so Seeds of Literacy offers free, one-on-one tutoring that achieves double the retention rate of the national average. Students range in age from 18 to 60-plus yet typically read at a fourth-grade level.

DO: Become a tutor for day or evening courses. Seeds of Literacy provides free training, and there’s no prior teaching experience required.

DONATE: Without any state or federal funding, Seeds relies on donations to purchase books and supplies, train tutors and recruit students.

ALSO CONSIDER: Project: Learn of Medina County, projectlearnmedina.org, (330) 723-1314; Project: Learn of Summit County, projectlearnsummit.org, (330) 434-9461


Camp Ho Mita Koda
camphomitakoda.org, (216) 591-0800
-

A program of the Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland, Camp Ho Mita Koda gives kids with diabetes a traditional summer camp experience with the specialized care they need. More than 300 kids ages 6 to 15 descend on this 72-acre Newbury camp each summer for three-, five- or 12-day sessions.

DO: This spring, help paint and clean cabins, set up for programs, and spruce up the grounds. Then, return in the fall to winterize the gardens, chop firewood and pack away those craft supplies. Miss that camp experience? Volunteer as a summer activity instructor.

DONATE: No child is turned away for inability to pay, so $375 will cover one child’s five-day program.

ALSO CONSIDER: Camp Cheerful, Strongsville, achievementcenters.org, (440) 238-6200; Camp Nuhop, Ashland, campnuhop.org, (419) 289-2227


ANIMALS

Safety for Animals and Families in Emergencies
safe.cuyahogacounty.us, (216) 970-3035


Leaving a domestic violence situation creates a quandary for pet owners: Take Fido along into an uncertain future, or leave him behind in a dangerous one? SAFE provides temporary care for pets of victims in domestic violence situations (and of those dealing with foreclosures and medical emergencies) “so they can leave and know their pet is safe,” says SAFE’s Heather McNally Milko.

DO: Foster an animal in your home (typically 30 to 60 days), or help with animal pick-up and drop-off.

DONATE: A grant covers medical care at the Animal Protective League, but donations help offset the costs of food and preventative medicines.


Lake Erie Nature & Science Center
lensc.org, (440) 871-2900, ext. 215
-

This nature center offers a planetarium and indoor and outdoor wildlife and aquatic exhibits year-round. Its wildlife rehabilitation program also takes in about 1,000 injured and ill animals a year.

DO: Volunteers help care for and feed animals on exhibit and those undergoing rehabilitation. Participate in the nature center’s wildlife education by toting your favorite critter among visitors.

DONATE: Contributions underwrite care and feeding of animals on exhibit and in rehab, as well as operating costs of this free nature center. Make a general donation or Adopt-an-Animal such as your favorite fox, gecko or snake.

ALSO CONSIDER: Penitentiary Glen Nature Center, Kirtland, lakemetroparks.com, (440) 256-1404; Cleveland Museum of Natural History, University Circle, cmnh.org, (216) 231-4600, ext. 3252


Guiding Eyes for the Blind
gebcuyahoga.org, (440) 235-3515


Before guide dogs head into service for the blind, they’re raised by families who prepare them for the intensive training that lies ahead. At least two dozen such puppies are raised each year in Northeast Ohio by volunteers for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

DO: Prepare a future guide dog by raising a puppy, usually from 8 weeks to 18 months of age. Weekly classes guide puppy raisers through the strict program, which includes gradually exposing the pup to crowds, city streets, restaurants and quiet settings such as church. Puppy sitters are also needed to help out for a week or two when local raisers take a vacation.

DONATE: Contributions support the veterinary care and supplies needed by local puppy raisers.


Sanctuary for Senior Dogs
sanctuaryforseniordogs.org, (216) 485-9233


Older dogs can be hard to place at pounds and shelters. So the Sanctuary for Senior Dogs rescues dogs ages 7 and up from pounds and shelters, where they’d likely be euthanized, and places them in foster homes as they wait for adoption.

DO: Become a foster owner to an older dog. The Sanctuary picks up medical and food costs. Founder Deborah Workman turns away a dozen older dogs a day due to lack of foster homes.

DONATE: Your contributions help offset those vet bills and food costs while helping the sanctuary market its graying adoptees.

ALSO CONSIDER: Cleveland Animal Protective League, Tremont, clevelandapl.org, (216) 377-1627; Berea Animal Rescue Fund, Berea, bereaanimalrescue.com, (440) 915-8973


ARTS & CULTURE

CityMusic Cleveland
citymusiccleveland.org, (216) 321-8273


The professional orchestra of first-rate local and visiting musicians performs in your community, and it’s always free, no tickets required. That’s what CityMusic Cleveland delivers along with a music education program for kids in Slavic Village and Elyria.

DO: Provide accommodations or transportation to a visiting CityMusic musician, or drop off some meals during rehearsals. Volunteers also usher and staff an intermission reception at CityMusic concerts.

DONATE: Dig out that violin your kid discarded after three months, and donate it to CityMusic’s after-school youth orchestras. Financial contributions help CityMusic pay its professional musicians.

ALSO CONSIDER: The Cleveland Orchestra, University Circle, clevelandorchestra.com, (216) 231-7300; Akron Symphony, Akron, akronsymphony.org, (330) 535-8131


Cleveland International Film Festival
clevelandfilm.org, (216) 623-3456, ext. 13


It’s the antidote to late-winter blahs — a group of 400 movie-loving volunteers will unite March 18 to 28 in support of the Cleveland International Film Festival, which last year attracted more than 300 short and feature-length films. Ninety percent of CIFF volunteers return yearly, says volunteer co-coordinator Beth Steele Radisek, and not just for the free movie passes. “It’s the buzz of the festival and the great friendships they make.”

DO: Usher, hand out ballots, validate parking, or lend your rear end as a seat saver.

DONATE: Donations are matched by a sponsor and help offset the expenses of bringing in filmmakers.


Art On Wheels
aowinc.com, (216) 941-7643
-

The art education program goes just about anywhere for just about anyone: children, adults, kids with disabilities, the blind, the deaf, senior citizens, you name it. “Many of them can’t afford to go to outside classes, nor do they have the transportation,” says executive director Carolina Martin.

DO: Lend what Martin calls “an extra pair of hands and a kind voice” as a teaching assistant, no art experience required, or help organize and stock art supplies in Art on Wheels’ 4,000-square-foot studio in the Flats.

DONATE: Contributions offset replenishment of art supplies, fuel expenses and instructor fees.

ALSO CONSIDER: Art House, Cleveland, arthouseinc.org, (216) 398-8556; Cleveland Museum of Art, clemusart.com, (216) 421-7340


THE ENVIRONMENT

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association
cvnpa.org, (330) 657-2909, ext. 109
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It’s our own little piece of America’s Best Idea — the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park that relies on more than 2,500 volunteers annually.

DO: About 1,000 volunteers are needed now for the national park’s popular Polar Express event, including folks willing to dress up like elves and hand out bells and hot chocolate. Throughout the year, volunteers maintain trails; serve as Wildlife Watchers, who assist guests at park hot spots; and even work as volunteer conductors on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

DONATE: Sponsor an acre of your favorite part of the park, from wetlands to meadows, for $75 annually at parkshares.org.

ALSO CONSIDER: Cleveland Metroparks, regionwide, clemetparks.com/volunteer, (216) 635-3258; Lake Metroparks, Lake County, lakemetroparks.com/about/volunteer, (440) 585-3418


Green Corps
cbgarden.org/green_corps.html, (216) 721-1600


Green Corps is a Cleveland Botanical Garden summer work-study program that puts Cleveland high school students to work cultivating five urban gardens, including its newest in Fairfax, and selling the resulting Ripe from Downtown products.

DO: The students may be paid, but volunteers prep the gardens by weeding, mulching and building new beds every spring so they’re ready for planting as soon as the last school bell rings. Volunteers return in the fall to help harvest the remaining crop and put the gardens to bed.

DONATE: Funds support the salaries Green Corps students receive, plus tools and supplies.


Earth Day Coalition
earthdaycoalition.org, (216) 281-6468
-

They’re the folks behind EarthFest, the annual Earth Day celebration at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo that draws up to 50,000 attendees and 500-plus volunteers. But the nearly 21-year-old Earth Day Coalition also has its hands in environmental education and neighborhood activism year-round, including the new NatureHood program to create native plant naturescapes on abandoned city lots.

DO: Volunteer to help run the Family Fun Area at EarthFest, check in participants at Walk or Bike for the Earth, or staff a booth at another Earth Day Coalition community outreach event. Orientation at the zoo is Jan. 9 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. RSVP at (216) 281-6468, ext. 221.

DONATE: A $35 membership supports the coalition’s programs and outreach and gets you plenty of cool stuff in return.

ALSO CONSIDER: The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, regionwide, nature.org to search by region; Eco-Watch, regionwide, ecowatch.org, (216) 387-1609

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