, Salem, MA

November 29, 2013

Column: Salem schools could use an extra hand

Yvonne van Bodengraven
The Salem News

---- — What if you could make a difference in the life of a child and you could do it with a time commitment that fit your schedule? What if you could brighten someone’s day and it wouldn’t cost you a penny? And what if doing those things brought you feelings of accomplishment, success and pleasure? It wouldn’t be called impossible, it would be called volunteerism.

The Salem public schools have initiated new efforts to increase volunteerism in the schools. The Community Volunteer Program is actively enlisting the help of neighbors and businesses to contribute to the success of Salem’s students. Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and abilities, all levels of education and experience, and with all measures of commitment. The only requirement is a willingness to help.

Volunteers are an extremely important resource for our schools. You don’t have to be able to do “new math” or recite important dates in history in order to help. There are hundreds of different ways to be of valuable service. Volunteers provide one-on-one support to students, assist with office tasks, build raised beds for school gardens and help to shelve books into their proper places. Volunteers work one, two or more hours per week, or work on one-time projects. If you have an interest in giving your time, any amount of time, to benefit education, there is a student or a teacher or a school that would love to meet you.

Prospective volunteers should contact me at 781-584-2146 or email New volunteers will be asked to complete a volunteer application form. This form provides Salem public schools with important information regarding contact numbers, interests and availability. A routine check of criminal records (CORI) will be conducted on all applicants. The next step is to schedule a meeting with the volunteer coordinator to discuss possible volunteer placements. The Community Volunteer Program works diligently to match volunteers with opportunities that maximize the benefits to the schools, while providing a positive experience for the volunteer.

The Community Volunteer Program thanks the wonderful individuals who have already jumped in to support this new initiative. Thank you, Ben, for providing the muscle last Saturday and helping with a new playground installation. Many thanks to Betsy, who reads to first- and second-graders for an hour every Thursday. Our gratitude goes out to Loretta, who shows up twice a week to organize books for the Literacy Program. Kudos to Janet, who helped finish up some office tasks, and to Linda, who puts in a day or two each week to shelve books in the library. Gracias to Sarah for her help in the adult English Language Program. Thank you, Helen, for scooping ice-cream during a recent fundraiser, and thank you to Susan, Kristen, Zina, Liz, Georgette, Heather and Jeanne for offering your time and energy to support the students of Salem. Many hands are already helping in the Salem schools, yet there is a constant need for new volunteers. The goal of the Community Volunteer Program is to increase volunteer help in the schools by one thousand hours this school year.

Are you ready to lend a hand? Please email Prospective volunteers looking for additional information can also check out the Salem Public Schools website ( ). From there, please follow the Quick Links to Community Volunteer Program. Join our team of volunteers and support Salem public schools. Together, we can have a positive impact.

Yvonne van Bodengraven is community volunteer coordinator for the Salem public schools. This column is one in a series from the Community Advisory Board for the Salem schools.