You know what Habitat for Humanity is, and the Humane Society.
But what about Changing Rein? MESA? Ladies First?
Kathleen Casper wasn’t so sure herself back when she started organizing the nonprofit jamboree held Saturday at Tacoma’s Jason Lee Middle School.
From 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Pierce County residents had a chance to find out about those service organizations and dozens of others at a volunteerism swap meet Casper put together for national Make a Difference Day.
“I knew there were all kinds of really good nonprofits out there and thought it would be good to get them all together in one place,” said Casper, who also organizes the Tacoma School District’s Highly Capable program.
“It would be somewhere where people could get information if they needed services, but they could also volunteer.”
On Saturday morning, as a noisy throng of people moved from booth to booth in the main hallway at Jason Lee, Casper seemed thrilled and slightly stunned at the size of the response.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland showed up for a kickoff address, and Tacoma poet laureate Lucas Smiraldo was on hand to inspire and encourage.
Smiraldo wrote a poem for the event, a piece called “Difference,” which included the line, “We are not done becoming the people who care.”
“This really grew organically,” Casper said. “It just kind of moved forward by itself.”
Make a Difference Day, a national community service event, was started in 1992 by USA Weekend magazine and takes place annually on the fourth Saturday of October.
Casper said she wants to make Tacoma Make a Difference Day an annual event. “We’ll build up the volunteer base for all the organizations,” she said. “As we continue to see what works and doesn’t work, we can fine-tune it more.”
For the record, Changing Rein is a Graham-based organization that uses horses for therapy. MESA stands for Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement and offers special help to students underrepresented in those fields. And Ladies First is an in-school program intended to empower young women.
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693