These volunteer organizations need you

TODAY’S ECONOMY is not conducive to volunteerism. Those with energy, ambition and time are busy acquiring the skills that will help them earn a living or help make good salaries even better. In days like these, what has happened to the spirit of giving time for no financial gain?

Happily, the volunteer spirit has managed to survive the dual onslaught of economic uncertainty and the career mystique. Since volunteer activities have traditionally been the province of women (stereotypically, those who are supposed to have “time on their hands” while simultaneously rearing armies of children), it’s no surprise that the ranks of generous givers have thinned a bit recently. Women who once staffed the volunteer battle stations now bolster the work force in every profession. A paycheck is understandably more attractive-and often more necessary-than marshaling the forces of the League of Women Voters or the March of Dimes.

But an interesting phenomenon has occurred. While many women who enter the working world have professional degrees and experience, some are hired for excellent positions on the strength of extensive volunteer activities and the experience acquired there. It’s no longer unusual to read that the newly appointed director of public relations for a glossy new hotel was the former head of the local Junior League. What this means is that the volunteer work force produces executives capable of handling responsibilities in the business community. More importantly, volunteering time to a cause is still the strongest statement of belief in that cause-be it involvement with people, government or a particular religion.

If the gift of time without financial reimbursement is one you’d like to make, there is a variety of ways you can do it. Some programs offer valuable on-the-job training that can approximate expensive degree-bearing programs. Every volunteer knows that the best reward of giving is simply to have given. But when there is a mutual exchange of benefits, everyone gains. Far North Dallas has more than its share of volunteer opportunities, so read on-and be assured that if you have the time to give, there is someone who needs it.

Volunteers in Piano Program, 424-6531. Piano has recently inaugurated one of the most interesting volunteer programs we’ve encountered. The VIP Program solicits citizen involvement in municipal government; it wants volunteers “to share the responsibility of meeting the needs and enriching the quality of life in the community.” For that goal, the city of Piano has provided volunteer opportunities in such areas as audio-visuals, financial analysis, computer programming, marketing, nutrition and technical writing. Spokeswoman Elma Martinez says that all volunteers receive on-the-job training in their areas of interest. She believes that the program provides an ideal opportunity for individuals to hone their present skills or acquire new ones. The VIP Program was instituted in May 1983, has since placed 18 volunteers and is already planning to expand to other areas of city government.

Heritage Center Farmstead Museum, Piano; Betty Richardson, 231-7186; or Beth Francell, 424-7874. Situated just off 15th Street in Piano is a charming old farmhouse, obviously newly repainted and in the process of further restoration. This is the Farrell-Wilson Farmstead Museum, once the home of Miss Ammie Wilson, a longtime Piano resident. After Wilson’s death in 1972, the farm was donated to an orphanage, then sold to Hunt Properties. A group of historically oriented volunteers recognized the significance of the farmstead and the importance of keeping it intact within the community. They worked to have the farm designated as a Texas historic site and placed in the National Historic Register. The Plano Heritage Association, a volunteer group, is now researching data to make the restoration as historically accurate as possible. Everything from the paint colors to the garden flowers will be studied to determine exactly what should be used to make the restoration authentic. Volunteers will be needed to help with fund raising, landscape care research and the staffing of the museum shop, and to serve as docents when the museum officially opens. The Farmstead Museum will provide a unique opportunity for citizens to experience the excitement of making the past come alive while contributing that most valuable of commodities: time.

Piano General Hospital Volunteer Program; Joanne Leonard, director, 596-6800, ext. 135. Piano General Hospital has a very active volunteer program with more than 125 participants. Teen-age volunteers 14 to 17 years old are called “candy stripers” (because of their pink-and-white striped uniforms); and adult volunteers can be any age. “We use our volunteers in every area of the hospital,” says Leonard, “and I haven’t had anyone come in willing to volunteer time for whom I couldn’t find a place where he or she would be needed.” The volunteers may work in surgery (manning the secretary’s desk or working with the orderlies) or in radiology (either assisting wheelchair patients or sorting film). Orientation for the volunteer program takes one day, and the hospital offers a CPR course that most volunteers take.

The hospital currently has a post of volunteer Explorer Scouts who rotate to different departments on a six-week basis. Leonard tries to place people with specific interests or career paths in the hospital areas in which they have the most interest-a young person motivated towards physical therapy, for instance, might be able to volunteer time in the physical therapy department.

Information Referral Service and Piano Volunteer Center; Beverly Knox. 422-1850. The Information Referral Service is staffed by volunteers and performs three services for the Piano area. Volunteers answer telephone queries ranging from “How do I find South-fork?” to “I have no more food. Please help.” Volunteers are trained to make appropriate referral to agencies that can help individuals in crises and to later follow up and make sure that the people who phoned for assistance have actually been helped. The center also helps those interested in volunteer work find the right spot: It lists more than 36 volunteer agencies and maintains a file of job descriptions for positions it has available. The center matches the talents and interests of prospective volunteers to the available openings in different agencies and sponsors the Volunteer of the Year Award Program for outstanding service. Both services come under the aegis of the United Way but function separately.

Big Brothers and Sisters, Piano; Linda Satanik, area coordinator, 596-7420. This volunteer organization is specifically geared to work with children ages 7 to 14 from single-parent families. The object is to provide an adult role model for children who are adjusting to a family with only one parent. The volunteers are asked to serve for at least one year and to see the child at least once a week for two to four hours. Continuity in the relationship is critical to help the child build a sense of self-esteem. Satanik stresses that the relationship should be one of “friendship, not just a volunteer entertaining a child.” Volunteers are urged to involve the children in the relationship by asking what they want to do that day or by including them in simple, everyday activities. Satanik is looking for volunteers who will be good models for these children and a “caring person who will be consistent and dependable.” The screening process is rigid for those reasons. Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, must have lived in the Dallas area for at least a year and must be fairly settled in their own lives. Prospective volunteers must complete an application form, obtain references and submit to a police check, as well as undergo a series of interviews with the staff, parent and child once a match is established. Satanik stresses that this is one of the few volunteer slots that is suitable for someone with a full-time job since time can be given to the child after work or on weekends. She also made an urgent plea for volunteer Big Brothers: Piano has a waiting list of 20 little boys who want a Big Brother.

Family Outreach, Richardson; Bertie Howell, president. 231-6584. Family Outreach’s primary function is the prevention of child abuse in the home. By referrals through concerned school officials, neighbors or parents. Outreach investigates a situation to determine the potential for child abuse, then assigns a volunteer to work with the family. Volunteers are interviewed and put through an extensive training program. The center holds parenting classes, counseling for unplanned pregnancies and assertiveness training for women with low self-esteem; it also monitors a teen group and a Mom Group.

Senior Citizens, Piano; Betsy Jacobs, receptionist/coordinator. 867-1505. Three different volunteer programs for senior citizens are housed in the West Piano Presbyterian Church, and each is funded by different organizations. The Maurice Barnett Geriatric Wellness Center is a clinic with one licensed geriatric nurse-practitioner and a staff of volunteers. The clinic offers appointments each Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. for health maintenance such as routine physicals, screening, relaxation, training and counseling. Volunteers assist the nurse, answer the phone and help patients. The Collin County Nutrition Program serves hot meals each Monday through Friday, for which reservations are necessary. Barbara Hotchkiss is the site manager, and a staff of volunteers visits with the senior citizens and helps serve food. The Piano Parks and Recreation Senior Services Program sponsors crafts, square dancing, line dancing, a French club, lectures and films.

Piano Cultural Arts Center, Collin Creek Mall; Nancy Monson. director, 423-7809. The Piano Cultural Arts Center opened in September 1982 with a hands-on exhibit entitled “Through the Looking Glass.” The exhibit explored the different ways we perceive things. dealing with such subjects as color and light. This exhibit was followed by an exhibit that featured “An Old-Fashioned Christmas in Col-lin County” and another on the American Indian. Classics membership chairman Mary Jo Dean says that volunteers work in two ways at the center: either as receptionists who answer phones, receive visitors and sell tickets to various Piano functions; or as docents. giving tours through each exhibit to small groups (usually scout troops or clubs). The center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; volunteers may work a morning or afternoon shift.

Heard Natural Science Museum, McKinney; Pam Tooley, director of volunteers, 1-542-5566. The Heard Museum is a natural history museum specializing in the North Central Texas area. The museum, which sits on a 266-acre sanctuary just south of McKinney, contains a natural history hall with a rock and mineral room, various animal exhibits and collections of antique and modern prints. The museum also offers a rehabilitation program for birds of prey and classes in a variety of subjects for preschoolers through adults. The museum has a very active volunteer program under the direction of Pam Tooley. One of the most popular volunteer activities is as a trail interpreter. Anyone from seventh-graders on up may participate; and there is a 12- to 16-hour training program that prepares volunteers to lead groups out to the sanctuary on the nature trails. Volunteers also work inside the museum as receptionists, library aides, lecturers and classroom aides. The Heard Museum Guild, also a volunteer group, is primarily responsibile for fund raising.

Richardson Crisis Center; Nancy Novak, director, 783-0008. The Richardson Crisis Center is a telephone counseling service staffed entirely by trained volunteers. The center operates from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and there is a 24-hour call-forwarding service. Volunteers field calls dealing with such subjects as family conflict, depression, communication problems and financial problems. The center averages about 500 calls a month. Volunteers must be 21 or older; they’re given an eight-week basic training course by mental-health professionals. Volunteers must commit to one year of manning the telephones, working one four-hour shift each week. Volunteers are screened by the director and the mental-health professionals; at the end of the eight-week training period, both the center and the volunteer have the right to decide whether this kind of work is right for him or her.

Right to Read, Allen Independent School District; Bob Outman, director, 248-0313. Right to Read is a one-on-one volunteer servicedesigned to help the illiterate learn to read andwrite. Right to Read serves Collin County andNorth Dallas and has helped people from 18 to80 overcome reading difficulties. Volunteersdon’t need a specific background in readingteaching-the service provides individualtraining for the volunteer, which he or she canthen pass on to the pupil.


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