BY JENNIFER FARNSWORTH
If you have ever said you want to help others out in some way, or you want to give back or pay it forward and just don’t know where to start, the upcoming Community Volunteer Expo might have the answers. The Expo, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ballston Spa, may just be the perfect venue for figuring out how you can get involved.
The Community Volunteer Expo, for residents of the Ballston Spa area, will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24 at the Ballston Area Community Center. Rotary member and past president John Cromie said over two dozen community groups will take part, offering plenty of information about volunteer opportunities for those who want to become more involved in their community.
The village has a reputation for deeply valuing the power of community, and the Expo acknowledges just that fact. The event both celebrates community giving and hopes to help recruit citizens of all ages and from all walks of life, for whom traditional routes to volunteering are not available.
The Rotary believes hosting the event also brings a high level of recognition to the volunteerism that makes for a thriving community, benefiting everyone. Cromie said the idea grew out of a Rotary membership committee meeting.
“We were discussing how to contact folks who work from their home and don’t have many opportunities to get out into the community,” Cromie said. “We felt there are a lot of proprietors and professionals who could join Rotary and use their talents to better the local community and foster international goodwill. There are also potential members for our morning meeting who work outside the immediate area. There was no good way to reach these people.”
As the discussion evolved, the board realized the Rotary was not alone with this dilemma and that all other organizations have the same problem, Cromie said.
“It also seemed that a group effort to attract new members would create a critical mass of opportunities, likely to draw people from all walks of life to volunteer to better their community,” he said. “We began to envision an expo that would give a boost to area organizations and, by increasing community involvement, produce an even more vital and enjoyable Ballston Spa.”
The Rotary said they have gotten a great response from two dozen non-sectarian organizations. Each group will have a table at the expo describing their activities and programs in an effort to seek out new members and volunteers. There will also be door prizes and light refreshments.
“Just about every member of Rotary is involved in some way, planning or executing the event,” Cromie said.
The large variety of organizations in attendance will offer something for just about everyone. Attendees will be able to explore firefighting, hosting children from New York City, protecting the Kayadeross, or assisting the library, Brookside, and the Bottle Museum.
In addition to invitations to join the Ballston Spa or Malta Rotaries, people will also have the opportunity to become involved with the Elks, Lions, Masons, Milton Grange, Garden Club and the Senior Citizens. Veterans can speak to the American Legion and VFW and learn how they can support RPC’s homeless veteran program. Charitable groups such as BACC’s teen center, Ballston Community Allies, the Educational Foundation, Gateway House Hospice, and FANS will also have representatives seeking volunteers and supporters.
The Ballston Area Community Center is located at at 20 Malta Ave. The event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. For information visit the Rotary’s website at www.ballstonsparotary.com.