Residents have all county volunteer opportunities easily accessible to them through the website directory.
By Melissa Riker
The Volunteer Center of Burlington County is taking on its 22nd year of providing county residents with opportunities to give back to the community.
The nonprofit organization started in July 1996, with the goal of putting all local volunteer opportunities in one place and allowing easier access to various types of community events to lend a hand in — whether it be once a year or once a week.
Michael Pippin, the coordinator at the nonprofit since 2000, stated, “Volunteerism is meant to give people an added value to do more. There’s always something to be done. Each person can choose where they want to put their efforts.”
There are numerous volunteer opportunities for this summer, including Friends of Burlington County Animal Shelter. This volunteer group was formed in November 2010 and became a state-recognized nonprofit in February 2012, with the goal of enhancing the lives of shelter animals (specifically at the Burlington County Animal Shelter) and helping them find permanent homes.
Friends of BCAS also helps to reduce the number of homeless animals in the community by sponsoring a low cost spay/neuter program.
Through volunteering with Friends of BCAS, assistance can be provided through cat cuddling, dog walking, updating online posts on animals, fostering or adopting animals, grooming animals, kennel quilt projects to create beds for animals, kennel enrichment activities to create a stimulating environment for the animals, etc.
Jamie DePolo, president of Friends of BCAS, has been volunteering with the group since 2014.
“When you see the animal become comfortable because volunteers have been interacting with it and you see it go to a great home, it makes it all worth it,” DePolo said.
There are approximately 1,350 active volunteers at Friends of BCAS, meaning they volunteer a minimum of four hours per month. More volunteers are being sought for the summer months due to “kitten season,” which is when stray cats have kittens. Having foster homes available can create more space in shelters to care for more animals.
“Volunteering and doing something that helps another being is very rewarding and a good thing to do. It’s a way to remind us that we’re all in this together,” DePolo said. “I think it’s amazing that [the Volunteer Center of Burlington County] is providing volunteer information and that they include us and tell people about us, we’re very grateful for that.”
Volunteers must be 18 years old or older to work directly with animals; however, younger volunteers can get involved through hosting fundraisers and providing supplies to the nonprofit.
A general orientation class is required for all volunteers and animal handling classes may be required for certain volunteer positions. For more information or to sign up, visit http://www.friendsofbcas.org/ways-help.
To create further awareness on different organizations’ volunteer opportunities and how to get involved in the community, the Volunteer Center of Burlington County holds a volunteer fair every fall and spring. The next volunteer fair will take place on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Burlington County Library in Westampton.
Visit http://www.volunteercenterburlingtoncounty.org for a full list of volunteer opportunities.