The New Year is upon us and with it comes the season of bold pronouncements — resolutions to get more exercise, be more social, discover new passions and stop smacking our gum. While it’s great to take that seasonal determination and use it to push ourselves to do better, what if this year we also look to make things better not only for ourselves but for our fellow creatures — human or otherwise.
To get you started, Xpress has compiled 14 organizations that could use your help in 2014. You can go for a run with a rescue dog at an animal shelter, make new friends while cleaning up local rivers and green spaces or find a passion for teaching while helping kids. The gum-smacking we’ll leave to you.
Asheville Area Arts Council
What it does: AAAC fosters the arts community in Asheville through exhibits, programs and workshops at its River Arts District gallery and professional development, funding and resources for local artists. Volunteers are needed to help with construction, installation of exhibits, gallery sitting, office tasks and graphic design.
To sign up: Fill out the application at ashevillearts.com.
What it does: GreenWorks coordinates grassroots projects like tree plantings, litter cleanups and creating green spaces to enhance the environment and quality of life in Asheville and Buncombe county. Volunteers can sign up for activities such as planting projects, river cleanups or invasive/exotic plant removal based on what fits their schedule.
To sign up: Visit ashevillegreenworks.org or call Eric Bradford at 254-1776.
Asheville Humane Society
What it does: The Humane society works to give animals a home through rescue, reunion and rehabilitation. It partners with Buncombe County to run both an adoption and education center and the Buncombe County Animal Shelter. Volunteering opportunities include fostering animals, manning information tables at events, cleaning kennels and bathing animals or keeping resident animals healthy and happy through walking, playing and cuddling.
To sign up: Contact Heather Brannan at email@example.com or 761-2001. Application and orientation required.
Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue
What it does: Charlie’s Angels rescues homeless and abused animals by placing them in a foster homes via partners throughout the Northeast, in homes as far away as Canada. Other animals are kept in the group’s Safe Haven no-kill shelter in Fletcher until they can be adopted. Charlie’s Angels needs volunteers to help with transportation, both locally to animals hospitals and spray/neuter clinics and over long distances to place foster pets in homes in various states. Cleanup, dog-walking and office help are also needed for Safe Haven.
To sign up: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Volunteer” in the subject line.
Council on Aging of Buncombe County
What it does: The council’s goal is to promote independence, dignity and wellness for older adults. The nonprofit has a desperate need for volunteers to take seniors to doctors appointments, grocery stores and other errands as part of the Call-A-Ride Program. Volunteers will use their own vehicles but will be reimbursed for mileage. Tutors are also needed on a long-term basis for the Medicare counseling and the Navigator Program, which teaches all ages how to use HealthCare.gov.
To sign up: Visit coabc.org to fill out an application or call Zoe Trout at 277-8299.
Literacy Council of Buncombe County
What it does: A recent recipient of the Stewardship Award, the state’s highest honor for nonprofits, the Literacy Council works to increase literacy and English language skills. The center is seeking volunteers to tutor in three of its programs: Adult Education, which teaches basic reading, writing and spelling; English for Speakers of Other Languages, which works with adult immigrants; and The Augustine Project, where tutors help improve academic performance and self-esteem in low-income children testing under grade level. Previous teaching experience is not required.
To sign up: Call 254-3442 or write to email@example.com. Orientation is required.
The Lord’s Acre
What it does: This community garden, located in Fairview, offers volunteers an opportunity to learn organic growing techniques while growing local food that’s donated to food banks. Gardening skills or previous experience is not required, though master gardeners may also volunteer as teachers. Gardening volunteers are needed April through October, but the organization is looking for off-season help with everything from videography and spreadsheets to equipment repair and grant writing.
To sign up: Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meals on Wheels
What it does: The organization delivers food to more than 500 elderly homebound people in WNC. It needs home-delivery drivers either on a substitute or regular basis, as well as receptionists, office assistants, kitchen helpers and special-events assistants.
To sign up: Contact Marita Alexander at 253-5286.
Mountain Area Radio Reading Service
What it does: MAARS is a radio reading service for people who are blind or visually or print impaired. Volunteers are needed to read news and events from local and national publications and to deliver the radio units used by clients.
To sign up: Contact MAARS via email@example.com or 251-2166. An audition is require to be a reader.
What it does: As a crisis intervention and prevention agency, Our Voice serves victims of sexual violence through case management, counseling and support. Volunteers are needed to work special events, educate the community through outreach programs or work the 24/7 crisis line.
To sign up: Visit ourvoicenc.org or call 252-0562. Training is required to work the crisis line.
Western North Carolina AIDS Project
What it does: WNCAP provides HIV-related-services to adults and children in WNC. The nonprofit needs volunteers to deliver food boxes on the second and fourth Saturday of each month to homebound men and women who have HIV/AIDS. Office volunteers are also needed for data entry and computer-related tasks during daytime office hours, Monday-Friday.
To sign up: Contact Chris Winebrenner at 252-7489, ext. 315, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Confidentiality agreements are required.
WNC Nature Center
What it does: The Nature Center teaches people about biodiversity and conservation by connecting them with the plants and animals of the Southern Appalachians. The center is seeking help in the animal department, where volunteers can help clean habitats and feed critters in the barn, petting area and the reptile and amphibian house. Previous animal care experience is not required.
To sign up: Fill out an application at wildwnc.org.
YMI Cultural Center
What it does: The YMI promotes interculturalism while celebrating African-American culture and diversity through exhibits, seminars, classes and special events. The nonprofit needs volunteers to help with behind-the-scenes support at both the center and at special events such as guest lectures or West African drum and dance classes.
To sign up: Contact YMI at 257-4540 or visit ymiculturalcenter.org.
YWCA of Asheville
What they do: YWCA provides child care, fitness classes, mentoring programs and advocacy designed to foster its mission to “empower women and eliminate racism.” The organization needs volunteers in its child-care department to help prepare and serve meals and assist with classroom activities, including music, academic coaching and gardening. Clerical assistants are also needed.
To sign up: Contact Angel Redmond at 254-7206 or email@example.com. A background check, medical questionnaire, TB screening and a minimum age of 16 are required to work in the child care department.