“Those who can, do,” the saying goes. “Those who can do more, volunteer.”
With that in mind, representatives of 30 Tacoma-based nonprofits gathered Saturday at Jason Lee Middle School to offer potential volunteers a one-stop-shopping array of volunteering opportunities.
“The idea is, people don’t have to go all over the community to find opportunities,” said Kim Golding, who organized the event. “They can go to one place, check out all the options and, hopefully, find their dream job.”
The Tacoma event was scheduled to coincide with national Make a Difference Day, held on the fourth Saturday of October each year and intended to encourage community service.
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Groups represented at Saturday’s volunteer expo varied widely, including food banks, environmental organizations, animal welfare groups and arts-support groups.
The Tacoma Rescue Mission, where 14,000 people volunteered last year, had a booth; so did the tiny Job Carr Cabin Museum, dedicated to preserving and protecting the early history of Old Town Tacoma. So did the Puget Creek Restoration Society and the Humane Society of Tacoma & Pierce County.
“Volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” said Jessica Fuller, representing the local branch of the Tears Foundation, which helps families deal with the death of a child. “Without them we couldn’t do what we do.”
Saturday’s event was the second annual Tacoma Makes a Difference Day. It was started in 2013 by Kathleen Casper, a former Tacoma Public Schools teacher who also organized the Tacoma School District’s Highly Capable program.
Golding, this year’s organizer, also has a Tacoma education connection. She’s a founding member of the nonprofit group Parents and Friends for Tacoma Public Schools.
“We could have concentrated just on the schools,” Golding said, “but we thought it would be a great opportunity to expand it and bring everybody contributing to the community together.”
For most of the day, those offering volunteering opportunities at Saturday’s event far outnumbered people interested in volunteering, a problem Golding attributed not to a lack of interest in the community but to a lack of advance planning and money for advertising.
Irene Lowe, who came to the event looking for ways to involve her fellow members of New Community Church, made her way through the room, collecting brochures and taking phone numbers.
“I’m looking for ways to make Tacoma better,” Lowe said. “I think it’s very important to really have that outward focus of seeing the people around us and loving the people around us.”