Agency sets up volunteer work with Web site Computer users can find jobs, times and answers

November 21, 1998|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

Internet users intent on volunteering at some Baltimore nonprofit now have fewer excuses to avoid doing their professed duty.

Hands on Baltimore Inc., which allows volunteers to pick jobs and working times, opened a Web site this week explaining its programs and offering service opportunities.

Questions or offers of help can be sent to the agency's site at www.handsonbaltimore.org.

"We will make it as easy as possible for people to volunteer," said Jennifer A. Wittman, 26, the new executive director. "We want to pull in as many people as we can."

Wittman and Kelly Hodge-Williams, chairman of the Hands on Baltimore board, announced these new agency projects:

In February, it will begin collecting 50,000 books to donate to 30 city elementary schools in cooperation with the school system, Barnes and Noble, Baltimore Reads and The Sun's Reading by 9 program.

Hands on Baltimore will distribute 100,000 books and hold reading parties for children as part of its spring Serv-A-Thon April 17. This reflects a change of focus for the Serv-A-Thon, from improving school grounds to promoting literacy.

The agency will conduct the first of a series of volunteer classes to teach people how to recruit and manage volunteers from 6 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. Dec. 3 at the agency's office, 312 N. Charles St.

It has joined with other nonprofit service groups to form the Baltimore Consortium for Civic Involvement, which will plan a volunteer center serving all volunteers and nonprofits.

St. Paul Companies Inc., which bought USF&G, has given $145,000 for planning and seed money for the volunteer center. United Way of Central Maryland and the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations are among the dozen participants.

Before graduating from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1995, Wittman worked with the homeless at Sarah's House, a shelter near Fort Meade. For four years during and after college, she planned the Youth Service group.

Wittman said Hands on Baltimore, which was started five years ago and has four full-time workers and a $400,000 budget, is "the central resource for voluntarism in the Baltimore area." The nonprofit agency is one of 27 affiliates of City Cares of America, a national group promoting volunteerism.

Its Maryland recruits gave 2,880 service hours in 1993; that has grown to 24,275 hours this year.

The group has a database of 2,500 "hard-core" repeat volunteers and 3,500 more who serve in other ways. To use the free service, volunteers first attend a 45-minute orientation session at the agency's office.

In five years, more than 10,000 volunteers have worked in 250 agencies.

The Abell Foundation provided $26,000 for the Web site. In addition to Serv-A-Thon and the Volunteer School, the agency lists these programs:

"Flexible Volunteer," a monthly calendar listing 30 to 50 projects.

Discovery, a Saturday morning program for elementary school pupils.

Team Works, for middle schoolers and adults.

Impact Teens, for teen-agers.

Corporate Partners, for company groups.

Referrals, linking volunteers with agencies.

Information: 410-547-8810.

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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