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Rowan Helping Ministries in need of volunteers

SALISBURY — Patricia Dalton began volunteering two years ago at Rowan Helping Ministries, sorting clothes and helping those who receive services get needed clothing.

Dalton, who is from Salisbury, spends her days at the shelter because of the Senior Community Service Employment Program.

“I like helping people,” Dalton said.

She even inspired her grandson, Laron McCullough, 15, a student at North Rowan High School, to volunteer.

Her family is quick to volunteer, as are area church members who give of their time. But according to Executive Director Kyna Grubb, Rowan Helping Ministries has a shortage of volunteers. She says many who have been with the shelter for 30 plus years have “retired,” and others have found jobs and don’t have as much time to volunteer.

McCullough, who was at the shelter Wednesday with his classmates, volunteered earlier this year with his grandmother. Dalton one day asked her grandson to go with her to the shelter, she said, since he wasn’t doing anything that day. He helped her sort clothing.

“It gives you a nice and warm feeling in your heart,” McCullough said of volunteering.

McCullough said he puts himself in the place of someone in need. He said he would want someone to help him if he had a need, and that is why he volunteers.

Help wanted

Grubb said the staff has known for some time that it would have a shortage of people and began putting plans in place to fill the gaps.

She said the agency reached out to the faith community.

“It’s the unique place when people who want to help can come and those who need help can come,” Grubb said.

Staff members also worked to better define the term “volunteer” in a way that anyone with a talent is welcome to apply. Grubb said volunteer work can go beyond preparing meals and sorting clothing.

There is a need for volunteers to help with data entry, interview clients applying for financial assistance, bag toiletries for shelter guests, serve as life coaches, pick up food donations from local stores, bag rice and beans, wash dishes, and do laundry.

In addition to accepting adult volunteers, the shelter allows teenagers to volunteer. Volunteers 13 to 15 years old can work with a parent packing food. Those 18 and older can volunteer as interviewers and drivers, said volunteer coordinator Chris Resner.

After taking North Rowan students on a tour of the shelter, Resner plans to talk with other students about volunteering at the shelter. Resner will take high school students through orientation and tell them more about volunteering. Volunteer orientation is held at 3 p.m. every Tuesday. Participants get an insider’s tour of the facility to see all the volunteer opportunities.

Anyone interested in volunteering who cannot meet on Tuesday for orientation can contact Resner to make other arrangements.

Each volunteer shadows or trains with the staff before being on his own for a particular task. Resner said some neighbors and groups of friends help at the shelter. Some are able to volunteer only once a week.

“It would be nice to get more groups to volunteer,” she said.

Giving back

Pat Hill, who is nearing retirement, volunteers mostly at the front desk.

“I’m doing what I like doing,” Hill said.

Robert Morris of Spencer has been volunteering for four months after initially not knowing much about the shelter and its operations. The retired maintenance engineer now works three times a week in maintenance and repair.

Morris said he appreciates the diversity of the people and getting to communicate with so many from different walks of life who all have a story to tell.

Carl Doby and Fred West are just two of the many volunteers with Mount Hope Church who volunteer in Jeannie’s Kitchen cooking and serving meals.

Doby said he’s been a volunteer through his church for 13 to 14 years.

“Our church is very mission-oriented. This is one of the missions of the church,” Doby said.

The church members are also on a reserve list if a volunteer cancels, but typically kitchen manager Cheryl Linder is the one who steps in to fill in.

Linder is responsible for creating a menu and scheduling volunteers to prepare meals.

On average, the kitchen feeds 300 people a day. Last year, it served 100,000 meals.

To register to become a volunteer, visit www.rowanhelpingministries.org/volunteer to fill out an application or visit a kiosk at Rowan Helping Ministries, 226 N. Long St.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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