Wednesday, January 2, 2013

COLUMN: Start the New Year by volunteering

By DIANE HENTGES, Director of the Volunteer Center /RSVP at the United Way of Wyandotte County

The gifts have been opened.

We have made our post-Christmas trip to the mall to exchange that sweater and shop the sales for those great bargains. Some might be enjoying a few extra days off from work or school. All of us are looking to begin a new year.

As we plan for the New Year, let’s not forget our New Years resolutions.

This year’s list of resolutions should not be long and definitely not impossible to keep. Let’s give this year’s resolutions some real thought.

My suggestion is that each of us includes volunteering high on that list of resolutions. Trust me - it will be an easy one to keep throughout the year.

There are so many local programs that need the support of volunteers. Our local food kitchens could not provide hundreds of meals per day without volunteer cooks, servers and dishwashers.

Food pantries, another means to help those in need, rely on the good works of volunteers for the donated goods to keep shelves stocked, to serve as receptionists and to help families select the needed items. The need for these services has increased because of the recession and the high unemployment.

Children in our community benefit greatly from caring adult volunteers.

Youth programs like Associated Youth Services, Bethel Neighborhood Center and Boys & Girls Clubs need willing and caring adults to tutor, mentor, coach and encourage youth involved in their programs.

Our scouting programs (Boy Scouts, CampFire USA, Girl Scouts) that reach hundreds of children in our community would not exist without adult volunteers to provide a nurturing environment for these young people.

Without a strong core of volunteers, The Red Cross could not respond to the crisis of a home fire or the devastation of a tornado. A cancer patient might not get to a treatment without the thoughtful volunteer driver recruited by Cancer Action.

For many of our partner agencies, volunteers help behind the scenes to keep the papers filed, the phones answered, the guests greeted, data entered to name just a few of the many hats worn by a volunteer.

For more information on how you can resolve to GIVE, ADVOCATE, and VOLUNTEER please contact me at 913-371-3674 or at

You can find volunteer opportunities by checking out our website at