Volunteer Vednesday 4/28/10

We’ve had a streak of nice weather recently, and that always puts me in a good mood. And that good spirit makes me think about neighboring. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of “neighboring”, it’s a grassroots form of civic engagement, where neighbors literally help other neighbors. Examples of this include helping your elderly neighbor carry her groceries from the store, doing an energy audit and changing the light bulbs in the house down the street, and starting a community garden. The idea is to improve the place where you live, and to enhance the relationships among its residents. When neighbors take action together, they get to know each other, and can help each other in times of natural disaster (hello flooding), crime and economic downturn.

If neighboring sounds like a great concept to you but you aren’t sure where to start, get the 411 from Neighbors for Neighbors, an organization started in Jamaica Plain that now has its roots in every Boston neighborhood. Visit www.neighborsforneighbors.org to get updates on volunteer opportunities and ways to connect to your neighbors. Now that spring has officially sprung and you realize there are actually people who live in your neighborhood, make it a point to stake your claim in the civic wellness of the place you call home.

Agency Spotlight: Boston Living Center

The community of those living with HIV/AIDS has long been shunned, ostracized, alienated, and forced to live on the margins of society. Not at Boston Living Center. The BLC is New England’s largest community and resource center for people living with HIV/AIDS. Becoming a member is free, and it means you’re now part of a community that treats, heals, counsels, and inspires. Resources provided by BLC include meals, housing assistance, medication, and art and computer classes. These exceptional services are offered largely with the help of volunteers, and you can lend a hand by helping to serve a meal. Serve lunch from 10am-2:30pm during the weekdays or dinner from 5:30-8pm on weeknights. This place always gets rave reviews from its volunteers, including Boston Cares member and Project Leader, Sharon Lowe: “Many [volunteers], such as myself, keep going back because it is such a great place to volunteer. The staff are first rate – many of them started as volunteers – and the volunteers are exceptional.” If you’re searching for a perk to volunteering there, it’s the food! The kitchen staff boasts quite the menu for all their meals, and volunteers are able to take part in the deliciousness before suiting up in aprons and hair nets to serve. You can’t beat that! If you’re interested in getting involved with BLC, contact Lisa Brown at lbrown@livingcenter.org.

Project Highlights

All of these projects are found on the Boston Cares Calendar—check them out, and if you like what you see, sign up to become a member!

Help Culinary Professionals Teach Kids to Cook: remember how fun it was to learn to make pancakes in home ec class? Think about how learning to make those pancakes will impact inner-city, at-risk middle schoolers!

The Food Project’s Build-a-Garden Program: it’s gardening on the go! Food Project volunteers build raised beds so Bostonians without yards can grow nutritious food right outside their front doors!

Spring Landscaping at the Louisa May Alcott House: this is truly a New England gem that you have to check out at some point while you’re living in Massachusetts. The house is gorgeous, almost everything in it is original from the Alcott family, and Little Women is a great book!

Happy Volunteering,

Kelly Clark, Boston Cares

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