hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

December 23, 2009

Helping Hands: Volunteer opportunities in and around Haverhill

Volunteers needed to help children with their reading

The Merrimack Valley Jewish Coalition for Literacy is beginning its eighth year of helping local schoolchildren improve their reading skills. Volunteers are asked to spend one hour per week working one-on-one with a child and help them become a better reader. Free training will be provided. The coalition currently has 16 teams and over 100 volunteers in public, private and after school programs in Andover, Haverhill and Lawrence. The literacy coalition's newest teams are working with children ages 3-5 in Haverhill's public and private schools and are helping youngsters get a jump start in acquiring vocabulary, listening skills, increased print awareness and an appreciation for the world of books. The literacy coalition is associated with "First Books," a program that provides economically disadvantaged students with free, high quality books that are first read with volunteers, then are taken home and added to a home library.

For more information about volunteeing, please contact Sherry Comerchero 978-374-3151.

Contractors needed

This year Rebuilding Together has received more application than expected and are in need of contractors to do preliminary visits with a house selection committee member. Licensed contractors, plumber or electricians available to visit one or two applicant homes in November or December are encouraged to call the RT office at 978-469-0800 or e-mail RTogether@verizon.net.

Volunteers can provide free tax help

Community Action Inc., which serves Haverhill and other communities in the Merrimack Valley, is seeking volunteers to help low-income taxpayers prepare and E-file their state and federal tax returns. Training to become an IRS-certified volunteer can be done online with additional training to be provided by CAI. Training is scheduled for mid-December through mid-January. Tax preparation begins mid-January and extends through mid-April. Please contact Marilyn Luther at 978-373-1971, ext. 285 or Marge Hooper at 978-373-1971, ext. 227.

Beacon Hospice volunteers: Volunteers are needed to offer companionship, support and a helping hand to hospice patients. Volunteers can make a profound difference in a person's life whether it is a 15-minute visit, writing letters, playing music or just sitting quietly holding a patient's hand. Volunteers are an integral part of Beacon Hospice's team approach that focuses on comfort, dignity and peace for the patient and his or her family. Call Julie Herget at 1-800-981-4805.

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley: Volunteers are needed to be companions, shoppers or medical advocates who drive elders in Greater Haverhill to medical appointments throughout the Merrimack Valley and to Boston. Volunteers receive two hours of training, support and mileage reimbursement. Training is offered at Elder Services, which is located at 360 Merrimack St., Building 5, Lawrence. For more information about dates and times of trainings, call Gerry Proulx at 978-946-1445.

Volunteers needed to drive cancer patients: The American Cancer Society is in great need of Road to Recovery volunteers to drive local cancer patients to and from their chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments. An integral part of treating cancer successfully is making sure patients receive treatments, but many find transportation arrangements a challenge. Drivers use their own vehicles to take patients to and from their treatments. The schedule for volunteers is flexible. Treatment appointments take place weekdays, primarily during business hours. For more information, please contact your American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

VNA Care Network and Hospice: Volunteers are needed to provide practical and emotional support to terminally ill patients and their families in the Merrimack Valley. Volunteers receive training, supervision and support. For more information, call Nancy Barcelo, volunteer coordinator, at 1-888-663-3688 ext. 4271 or visit www.vnacarenetwork.org.

Haverhill Trails Committee: Looking for volunteers to help maintain Haverhill's network of trails and conservation areas. Most trail maintenance is done in the spring and fall, lasts for a few hours and usually does not require any heavy lifting. Tools are provided and attendance at all trail maintenance events is not required. To volunteer, contact the Haverhill Conservation Office at 978-374-2334 or conservation@cityofhaverhill.com.

Department of Children and Families: There is an urgent need for volunteers to help children in state-sponsored foster care. Volunteers are needed in the Haverhill area to review abuse and neglect cases. Case reviewers need to be 18 or older, participate in a training session and commit to reviewing at least one case per month over a one-year period. For an application or more information, call Kim Sheppard, volunteer coordinator, at 617-748-2294.

Ruth's House: A nonprofit, nondenominational thrift store at 30 Lafayette Square, needs volunteers to donate as few or as many hours as possible. For more information, call 978-521-5575.

Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society: Volunteers are needed in the adoption center, during Sunday Spay Days, as adoption counselors, donation can collector, to foster a cat in your home, to trap feral cats in your area. For more information or to fill out a volunteer application, visit www.mrfrs.org or call 978-462-0760.

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge: The Friends of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge needs volunteers to help staff The Plover's Nest gift shop and bookstore at the Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center, 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport. The store is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers are needed to help customers and act as cashiers during those times. Training will be provided. For more information, call Kate Toniolo at 978-465-5753.

The SHINE Program: Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley is looking for volunteers to become certified SHINE counselors to provide no-cost health care information, assistance and counseling to Medicare beneficiaries of all ages. Individuals must complete a 50-hour certification program that prepares them to communicate information during counseling sessions. Volunteers must be willing to make a three- to four-hour-a-week commitment to the program. Call 800-892-0890.