A Brief Volunteer Guide for the Lehigh Valley

There are many volunteer opportunities in the Lehigh Valley and one place to consider learning about some of these opportunities can be found here at, The Volunteer Center for the Lehigh Valley. There are other opportunities available, however, this site provides a comprehensive list of upcoming opportunities as well as contact information and a description of the specific volunteering opportunity. Before volunteering, consider what type of work you would like to do, as well as, the type of work you are capable of doing. Also, consider the area you would like to serve. Many folks are drawn to basic social services (washing dishes in an emergency shelter or serving food; answering phones or packing boxes for the local food bank) but others find it more rewarding to use their own set of skills/expertise to make use of their volunteer time. I have worked with skilled contractors (carpenters, plumbers and electricians) who volunteer their time and talents to assist a member in the community, in a project that, if not for the contractor’s assistance, would be impossible to complete due to financial burdens typically associated with the costs of a contractor’s labor. Many times, once a volunteer establishes a relationship with an agency, they are able to seek out opportunities that make the best use of the volunteer’s talents; while also meeting the needs of the agency.

This first opportunity is at The Salvation Army, where I am currently employed. The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. The Salvation Army has a rich history in both Allentown and the greater Lehigh Valley; providing basic social services to those in the most need. The Salvation Army operates many safety net programs, including but not limited to the following: an emergency shelter, homeless prevention services, transitional housing, food pantries, senior programs, youth programs, utility assistance programs, a thrift store, and foster care services. This opportunity is available through: The Salvation Army’s Children’s Services, Allentown, where they are seeking a volunteer receptionist to assist with answering phones. The duties include: taking calls from parents and prospective foster and adoptive parents, referring callers to the social work staff; taking messages, and assisting with light office duties, as needed. If you enjoy helping others, working in a small office with a pleasant work environment, then you would enjoy this opportunity. Contact Florence Rhue, 610-821-7706, [email protected]

In working for The Salvation Army, I have consistent contact with The Second Harvest Food Bank, a program of the CACLV, which offers many volunteer opportunities for people wanting to make a difference. They are a valued partner to dozens of local social service agencies. Among the many amazing things this agency does, it supports the daily food needs of the Salvation Army’s food pantry, as well as, the women and children’s emergency shelter programs. They welcome individual volunteers and groups from 2 to 40 people. The Food Bank has monthly pack events, which allows a group to work together on the same project. Lists of this month’s volunteer opportunities can be found on their website: www.shfblv.org. Volunteers can come to the Food Bank Monday through Friday between 7am and 3pm. The food bank asks that you call ahead to make sure that they have tasks available that day. If your schedule doesn’t match their current needs, you may contact Second Harvest at 610-434-0875 or [email protected] for a referral to one of their member agencies that could use your help. For safety reasons, Second Harvest volunteers must be at least 14 years of age and require adult supervision up to age 18. In an average week, the Food Bank has more than 30 volunteers completing over 100 total hours of work. This is equivalent to almost three additional full-time staff members.

Many non-profit agencies make use of volunteers and wouldn’t be able to do the important work they do, without a strong force of committed volunteers. These are just two of the many opportunities for those considering volunteer work in The Lehigh Valley. Good Luck!

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