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Monday, November 12, 2012

Give universally, but volunteer locally...

There are so many very good causes begging for our attention and contributions these days. Almost all are legitimate, although some charity appeals come from fund-raising companies that keep as much as they pass on to the actual underlying charity. The really big causes – cancer, heart disease, muscular dystrophy and such – have huge fund-raising machines going all of the time. They are worth causes and giving to them will make you feel better; however, it’s a short-lived feeling because you just ship your donation off to somewhere and don’t really see how it’s used or any results from your small contribution to the cause. Still, we all need to support those big efforts because they will benefit us all.

There are also lots of local charities and organizations doing good works right in our community. With those, there are not only opportunities to give money; but, also lots of opportunities to o hands-on service work; the kind of work that will give you good feeling that will stick with you for a long time, because you get to see the results.  A couple examples in our area are the Community Sharing Outreach Center Food Pantry and the local Meals on Wheels group.

The Community Sharing Outreach Center appears to be a local group that was started back in 2004 as an outgrowth of programs being run by local churches. It has expanded and added services and now offers the following services: 

·         Food/Pet Food - Available once a month and in emergencies

·         Clothing - Available during open hours

·         Emergency financial assistance - This includes evictions, utility shut off and other emergencies.

·         Case Management- Needs assessment, advocacy, networking with and referrals to other agencies for optimum assistance for clients.

·         Educational Assistance - Tutoring in core subjects (K-12), assistance for adults preparing for GED testing.  Tutoring is available for all Huron Valley Schools students who participate in the Federal Lunch Program. You do not need to be a client.

·         Focus Hope - Monthly food distribution site for those over 60 and under 6.

·         The Emergency Food Assistance Program - TEFAP distribution site providing extra food to clients quarterly.

It has been noted here before that the Community Sharing Pet Food Pantry is the only one of its kind in the state that also provides pet food to needy families that otherwise could not afford to keep their family pets.

The Community Sharing Outreach Center is located in Highland at 2029 N. Milford Rd in the old middle school building. They also have a Milford location, which is a community vegetable garden, at the corner of Milford and GM Roads. You can learn more about the Community Sharing Outreach Center and the opportunities that it offers to serve at their web site – www.community-sharing.org .

The local Meals on Wheels organization is part of a larger, national effort to make sure that food gets to shut-ins and seniors. You may visit the national web site at http://www.mowaa.org/  . Locally the web site is http://www.mealcall.org/meals-on-wheels/mi/milford.htm .

This is a simple idea, to make sure that seniors and shut-ins don’t go hungry; however it takes a lot of work by a lot of volunteers and a lot of contributions to buy the food that is needed. I’ve put a flyer on my Move to Milford web site about the volunteer opportunities for Meals on Wheels at http://www.movetomilford.com/meals_on_wheels.html .

People who need meals can call two locations – the Milford Senior Center at 248-685-9008 or directly to the Meals on Wheels coordinator at 248-684-0705. If you are able and interested there are plenty of opportunities to help with this effort. I can tell you, based upon my personal experience of delivering food baskets to needy family through my church, that nothing will give you a better feeling that seeing the smiles of people who were facing another day of hunger if you weren’t there with some food. Call them today and volunteer to make, pack or deliver food to those who are shut-in.

Another avenue for local volunteering that will make you feel great is through the many local organizations with a focus on programs for children and families, such as the Carl’s Family YMCA, the Milford Library, and the Community Education and Recreation through the Huron Valley School District. There are links to all three of those organizations and their program calendars on my web site – www.movetomilford.com. I’m sure that all of them can always use more help.

 
Local, membership-based service organizations like the Rotary Club and the Optimists, as well as organizations like the Knights of Columbus also have multiple fund raising events for worthy causes throughout the year. And, of course, all of the local churches are always working quietly behind the scenes to help families in need. Churches run on volunteer help, so ask how you can help at your church.

There is an old saying that I’ll paraphrase by saying “you get back by giving.” No amount of money in your paycheck can make you feel as good as you’ll feel by volunteering for organizations like these and helping others. Yes, we still need to give money to these and other worthy causes, both local and national; but it’s these local organizations that need and can use your help and time to make a difference. Call one of them today and ask how you can volunteer. So, rather than just hand off some money; get the hands-on experience of actually doing the work. It’s great!

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