Video: Volunteer Experience Extravaganza

Helping Hands Ali Hanlon discusses options for volunteering with Garden Party. A recent federal report from the Coorporation of National and Community Service stated Topeka has the fifth highest volunteer rate of all mid-sized cities. Photo by Lauren Mersman.

Sunshine Blue

The Volunteer Experience Extravaganza last Thursday featured several local non-profit organizations, who offered a wide range of unique opportunities for people to get involved in community service.

Save Our Shelter Animals in conjunction with Friends of Hills Bark Park is working toward building Topeka’s first no-kill animal shelter near Gage Park’s Bark Park. They need volunteers to help educate the community about no-kill shelters and hold fundraisers to generate money to help save the lives of animals who would otherwise be euthanized at other shelters. They are planning a “Party in the Park” on Saturday, Sept. 19 in Gage Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, contact them by e-mail at [email protected], or by phone at (785) 217-8470. Visit them online at (story continued below)

Media credit: Brian Dulle

Another organization with interesting opportunities is The Villages, Inc., Family Style Group Homes. They provide a safe, family-style environment for children ages 6 to 18, who are referred to them by the Juvenile Justice System and Child in Need of Care-SRS System. They are looking for individuals to provide guitar and piano lessons, lead fitness classes, mentor and tutor residents, cook, walk Smokey, the pet coyote, maintain trails at Stone Nature Center and many other tasks. For more information, contact Michael Bradley by e-mail at [email protected], or by phone at (785) 267-5900 extension 104. Visit them online at

Meals On Wheels of Shawnee and Jefferson Counties, Inc. is an organization that delivers meals to the elderly and citizens unable to leave their homes.

There are 10 Washburn Bookstore staff members who have been volunteering their time to this organization over the past three years. On average, they deliver 12 to 16 meals in an hour, and rotate two staffers a week, one day a week. Current volunteers said it is a small obligation, but the reward is enormous, as they have bonded not only with the clients, but with each other.

For more information, contact Renae Steuart at [email protected], or by phone at (785) 354-5420. Visit them online at The Washburn Bookstore staff involved in this community service said they are happy to help anyone interested in volunteering with Meals On Wheels by providing information.

The Shawnee County Medical Reserve Corps is looking for individuals interested in donating time to shot clinics and training sessions where they would learn valuable skills used in disaster and emergency relief. They are laid back, and provide flexible hours for their volunteers. Their goal is to train an abundance of responsible persons, who would be willing to step up in the event of a catastrophe. For more information, e-mail Don Jenkins at [email protected], or call (785) 368-2736. Visit them online at