A COMMUNITY CAN ONLY GROW AND FLOURISH if residents are willing and enthusiastic about its success. Ferndale has no shortage of dedicated individuals contributing their talents and time to building a caring, tight-knit neighborhood, but sometimes matching those skills with organizations in need can be a challenge.
In an effort to bring those willing to help together with the nonprofits making a difference, the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) combined efforts to connect the two for a night.
On Tuesday, September 22, eleven nonprofits from the Ferndale area gathered at Blumz by JR Designs, located at 503 East 9 Mile Road, for a Volunteer Open House. About 50 people attended.
“Knowing that Ferndale is a very giving community, and many people have been inquiring on social media about volunteer opportunities, we thought it would be a good time to offer residents the opportunity to easily meet with a variety of organizations to find out where they fit,” Cindy Willcock, Interim Executive Director of the DDA, says of the event.
The hardest part of building a volunteer relationship might be deciding what cause is right for you. For two hours, attendees had the chance to learn about the various groups making a difference in metro Detroit and how they could get involved.
Some of the participating organizations include Camp Casey, a 501C3 nonprofit horseback riding program for kids with cancer and their families, and Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, where residents help build homes for their neighbors.
Modeled after a similar DDA event held in 2010, Willcock and Ferndale Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ashleigh Laabs decided to host the open house after the DDA and Chamber began collaborating on multiple events this year.
“We realized that we both sometimes struggle with not having enough volunteers to help us achieve our goals,” Willcock adds.Organizations chosen for the open house were a combination of those from the 2010 event and prominent organizations in the Ferndale community. Willcock says they strived to represent a diversity of nonprofits and cover a range of needs.
The DDA is actually one of the groups constantly in need of volunteers. According to their website, volunteers worked over 5000 hours in 2014 helping with events, engaging in committees and serving on their boards.
“I don’t think that many people realize that the Ferndale DDA is a grassroots, volunteer-driven organization that is overseen by staff,” Willcock says. “We couldn’t accomplish everything we do; events, programming, advocacy, promotion, business assistance, etc. without our outstanding group of volunteers.”
For those that missed the event this year, you can see the full list of participating nonprofits below and should expect this event to return next year, if not sooner.
“I think we’d definitely like to do it on a yearly basis, although based on the feedback from groups that want to participate, we might consider doing something more often,” Willcock anticipates.
Whether you attend the open house or not, volunteers are essential to a community and volunteering means much more than the efforts you put in. It builds community, creates new relationships and can make a lasting impression on those in need.
“One of my favorite quotes about volunteers is, ‘Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless’,” Willcock says.
More information about volunteering can be found here on the Chamber website: www.ferndaleareachamber.com/volunteer.html
The form for nonprofits submitting volunteer opportunities can be found here: http://bit.ly/FACnonprofitvolunteerform
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