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‘Make A Difference Rockland’ Event Connects Charitable and Local Nonprofit Groups with the Community
Posted December 6th, 2012

Barry Warner

Pictured are RoseAnn Mercado, Nanuet School District Family Resource Center, Gold Award Girl Scouts Alyson and Katherine plus Marc Silverstein, Coordinator of the event.

‘Make A Difference Rockland’ was a free meet and greet event held at Nanuet High School in mid November, aimed at bringing together many of the various charitable and nonprofit organizations from the county.

Formerly known as ‘JCC Cares’, the program gives individuals a chance to find out about nonprofit services, to volunteer their time and inquire about donations to special causes. More than 50 groups took part this year and many more people in attendance.

Two Nanuet High School juniors, Alyson and Katherine, ran the event to earn their Girl Scout Gold Awards and expand leadership skills. They developed a website, an organizational database, and designed the invitations and flyers. Alyson and Katherine both agreed that the event was a great opportunity to learn about the needs of nonprofits especially with the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“These are challenging economic times and a large number of the nonprofits are here to network with each other and reach out to the community to get volunteers,” said Marc Silverstein, who designed the program in 2006. Silverstein also gave a special thank to Nanuet High School for hosting the event.

Ready to provide information and recruit male and female volunteers for the Clarkstown Auxiliary Police are Officers John Lombardi and Tony Morena.

The following is a partial description of some of the groups that took part in the event and need volunteers:

1.     The Clarkstown Auxiliary Police are dedicated volunteers who serve the community and provide additional eyes and ears for the Clarkstown Police Department. The unit allows the town to provide a police presence at many special functions, such as traffic and crowd control at parades, run-a-thons, and crime prevention. Training includes CPR, First Aid, radio protocol and arrest techniques.

2.     The most fundamental goal of the Challenger Little League is to give everyone a chance to play baseball regardless of their limitations. Volunteer buddies assist the players according to their needs, such as helping a player bat, field a ball or push a wheel-chair bound child around the bases.

3.     The Children of Promise Stable (COPS) provides professional equine assisted activities and therapies for children and adults with special needs. Volunteers with equestrian experience or those who want to learn can help groom horses, serve as horse leaders or walk alongside the rider for support. A capital campaign to raise funds for the Thomas Foley Indoor Arena is in progress.

4.     Grassroots is an organization of local people who help initiate programs by bringing together people of need to work with trained facilitators. Projects include a dance-inspired agenda of gentle movement accompanied by music for people with strokes; an arts improvement project that brings together special needs students with mainstream student volunteers to build mutual understanding and story collecting, where volunteers are needed to visit hospice and senior center to collect life stories.

5.     The newly formed Greater Nanuet Chamber of Commerce needs volunteers to be part of the revitalization of Nanuet. A kickoff project involved the collection of non-perishable or shelf-stable food donations at food barrels around town, with a goal of providing food to local residents for the winter months.

6.     Helping Hands is the interfaith coalition for the homeless of Rockland County. Its mission is to aid homeless men and women find alternatives to life on the streets. The outreach center provides guests with laundry facilities, a shower and access to clean clothing. There are Rockland ‘runs’ with volunteers that reach out to homeless people on the streets with regular deliveries of food, clothing and hygiene items.

7.     Many parents know the heartbreak of watching helplessly, as their sons or daughters spin out of control due to drug or alcohol abuse, arrests or other destructive behaviors. Parents Helping Parents, a self-help support group, assists parents to determine what the problems are and which ones they should work on first. Members support each other in active ways, such as court or jail visits plus attending mental health evaluations.

8.     The mission of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is to help address community needs by recruiting volunteers 55 and older to lend their time and expertise in community service to nonprofit agencies and proprietary health care facilities. In 2011, 631 RSVP members donated 101,000 volunteer hours to 117 Rockland County agencies, saving millions of dollars. Volunteers worked at sites as tutors, fundraisers, ombudsmen and agricultural assistants.

9.     The Visions Center on Blindness is a comprehensive residential rehabilitation and training program serving people of all ages who are blind and visually impaired .Visions recruits and trains high school student volunteers to serve as escorts, readers and shoppers.

10.  Youth for Hospice volunteers provide an invaluable service to patients and their families facing the challenges of serious illness and loss. Volunteers can choose to work with individuals and families, assist in the office or fundraising. Youngsters 14 years of age or older can help plan events such as dance-a-thons, blood drives or haircut-a-thons.