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At a time when many people need a little extra help in life, you may be asking if there’s something you could do – maybe even from home. There is. Check out JustServe.
JustServe is a web platform supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that acts as a clearinghouse both for those seeking volunteers and those who want to help out.
Organizations post their volunteer needs at justserve.org. Volunteers log on, learn what’s available, and choose a way to serve the community.
Though supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the platform exists only to help nonprofit organizations to facilitate community service projects. While most JustServe listings involve group or “getting out there” activities, even during the Coronavirus pandemic, volunteers can still serve in restricted way.
Trudie Bell of Tallahassee coordinates the JustServe program for the Tallahassee Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which includes congregations in Tallahassee, Thomasville, Cairo, Quincy, Crawfordville, Perry, and Madison.
“JustServe is like a bulletin board on the web,” she said. “It’s an excellent way to put people in touch with each other. We want to continue expanding it as an accurate, go-to news source.”
As a facilitator of those connections, Bell sometimes contacts organizations to get information, and sometimes they contact her. Either way, her goal is to reach all the geographic areas within the Tallahassee stake.
“We’re working to increase the visibility of JustServe in our region,” she said. “I try to make sure there are volunteer opportunities throughout the stake, not just Tallahassee. We connect with other churches, too, and let them know about JustServe.”
Bell said past JustServe projects that have taken place include various projects with the American Red Cross; Grace Mission; ongoing help with Second Harvest food bank; and Hearts and Hands in Thomasville, a horse therapy program that uses basic, even non-equestrian, volunteer help.
“It’s amazing the places that people volunteer,” Bell said, “from big places like Salvation Army all the way down to smaller groups like Hearts and Hands.”
Meals on Wheels
After her retirement, Cindy Clawson of Tallahassee began looking for volunteer opportunities. Through the JustServe portal, she learned about Meals on Wheels and, to her delight, found she could take her grandchildren along on her route.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. “My people know me, and it’s such a blessing for my grandkids to go with me. It’s given them a chance to become comfortable with the elderly and disabled and to see that life is more than just their little world. They love to make cards and notes for the people we visit.”
She said there are around 100 people on a waiting list for meal delivery. “They don’t have enough funding or volunteers to get them on a route.”
About once a month — in normal times — a classroom at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Buck Lake Road turns into a sewing and assembly room for various projects. The sewing group, directed by Jeanie Campbell, started a couple of years ago.
“Our group began by making pillowcases for children afflicted with cancer,” said Campbell. “Kids get a new case every time they spend the night in the hospital. Then we started making neonatal blankets for babies in NICU hospital units.”
While Campbell said she didn’t learn about these needs from JustServe, she plans to add them as projects. “We would love the extra help.”
Days for Girls
A project she did find on JustServe is called Days for Girls. It involves making hygiene kits that are sent to preteen and teenage girls in third world countries and refugee groups. The kits include multi-layered machine-sewn menstrual shields, fabric bags, underwear, soap, and print information to help girls who don’t have parental teaching.
Currently they’re making kits that will go eventually to Zimbabwe. According to the Days for Girls website, daysforgirls.org, women in these impoverished areas are also taught to sew so they can make money to support their families.
- Each Days for Girls Kit, which lasts up to three years, replaces 360+ disposable pads.
- our enterprise approach enables women to earn an income and ensures program continuity.
Campbell stressed the satisfaction that comes from all these projects and invited others to join in. “Drop by at your leisure, second Tuesday every month, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.” she said. “No expense to volunteers. Bring a spool of thread and a pair of scissors—that’s all you need for some really worthwhile service.”
From justserve.org, here are some ongoing projects in the Tallahassee area:
- Host a blood drive (the Big Red Bus will go to your site)
- Or be a blood donor yourself
- Deliver Meals on Wheels
- Be a running buddy to a young person who needs encouragement
- Help in a church-sponsored garden that provides food for many
- Work with Elder Care Services
- Volunteer with Senior Corps to mentor a child
- Participate in the YMCA READS! program, which uses volunteer-tutors to serve at-risk students
“There’s so much strength in the community — a lot of good will and desire to help,” Trudie Bell concluded. “When people can focus on a goal, the power is amazing! JustServe helps harness that power.”