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‘Everybody has something that is worthy of sharing’

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

Volunteer opportunities can be found in every nook and cranny of Federal Way, but they are not being filled.

In Federal Way, a need for volunteers is present in nearly every field of interest. Most volunteer opportunities do not require special expertise or a huge time commitment.

“Everybody has something that is worthy of sharing,” Federal Way volunteer and resident Roger Freeman said.

Opportunities to make Federal Way a better place to live can be found in the city’s wetlands, schools and hospital, among other places.

“Whatever someone’s passion and interest is, there is an opportunity for them,” Mayor Jack Dovey said.

Eco-friendly volunteers:

Friends of the Hylebos consistently works to restore and maintain the West Hylebos Wetlands. Work parties are organized to plant trees and vegetation as well as remove invasive plant life.

Volunteers are able to enjoy the outdoors while also putting in a few hours of physical activity.

The Friends will gather as early as March 15 to pull blackberries, which are an invasive species. On March 26, volunteers can learn about vegetation that grows in water at the West Milton Nature Preserve in Milton.

No experience or previous knowledge of plant life is required to serve with the work parties, restoration coordinator Hillary Kleeb said.

Experts will be nearby to answer questions and teach volunteers how to use tools or plant vegetation, she said.

“I gear all work parties for people that have no experience,” Kleeb said.

Kid-loving volunteers:

The Boys and Girls Club is seeking men and women to pass time with children and teenagers. The club offers activities for kids before and after school.

But with a limited number of staff, volunteers are needed to spend quality time with the children, unit director Jennifer Youngblood said.

“A big part of what I want the volunteers to do is play with the kids,” she said.

Volunteers as role models:

Big Brothers Big Sisters is an organization that pairs adults with children. The adult serves as a mentor and does everyday activities — such as play sports, watch movies and go to the park — with his or her partner two to four times per month, said Pam Shields, director of marketing and grants.

In Federal Way, 42 kids between ages 7 and 18 are waiting for a big brother or big sister, Shields said. Of these, 34 are boys and eight are girls, she said.

Overall, the majority (69 percent) of the kids waiting for a big sister or brother live in a single-parent home, Shields said. An overwhelming 83 percent of them live in poverty, she said.

“You don’t have to have a specific occupation or be a specific age; anybody can be a big sister or big brother,” Shields said.

Federal Way Public Schools’ Heritage Leadership Camp offers another mentoring opportunity. Here, male residents guide approximately 60 young minority males in the community.

The men inspire students from Sacajawea and Totem middle schools to be leaders and excel in academics. Skills, such as conflict resolution, are taught.

Health care volunteers:

St. Francis Hospital utilizes nearly 200 volunteers, volunteer coordinator Kathy Schmidt said. Assistance is needed in the gift shop and in surgical care areas, she said.

The hospital is a place for those interested in a medical career to learn more about the field while also lending a helping hand to those in need.

“Students get to be in clinical areas so they can get a feel for working on the floors,” Schmidt said.

Nearly every department at the hospital requires the assistance of volunteers. St. Francis staff members try to match volunteers’ interest and comfort levels with areas where they can best assist.

“All our volunteers are critical to the operation of the hospital,” Schmidt said.

These are just some places that regularly seek community involvement. Several others exist.

“There are just a tremendous amount of places that if people just gave an hour a week, it would make a huge difference in our city,” Dovey said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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Other volunteer opportunities:

• Become a PTA member

• Join a civic club, such as the Lions, Rotary or Kiwanis Club

• Get involved in government by becoming a member of a board or commission, such as the Human Services or Planning Commission

• Assist in the food or clothing bank at the Multi-Service Center

• Teach English through the Multi-Service Center

• Help at a local school

• Mentor a child through the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce

• Become a member of the Citizen Emergency Response Team

• Adopt a street, park or other public place to pick up litter

• Coach a youth sports team

• Volunteer with the city

Check it out:

Dovey wishes to start a volunteer hotline within the next month. Residents will be able to call the hotline and receive a list of volunteer opportunities in Federal Way. Contact information for each organization would also be listed, Dovey said. He hopes the city can help residents bridge the gap between their everyday lives and giving back and connecting with others in the community. More information to come.

For more information, contact:

• The city’s volunteer coordinator at vnp@cityoffederalway.com.

• St. Francis Hospital at www.fhshealth.org/location/sfh.asp.

• Hillary Kleeb with Friends of the Hylebos at streamteam@hylebos.org.

• Big Brothers Big Sisters at (877) 700-BIGS.

• Federal Way Boys and Girls Club at (253) 941-2722.

• Multi-Service Center at (253) 838-6810.

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