Forest Hills Y helps recruit non-profit volunteers

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Connecting community agencies with volunteers, the Central Queens YM and YWHA held its first volunteer fair late last month.

“Providing opportunities to volunteer is the most important thing because people want to be useful and have a purpose,” event founder and coordinator Lauren Fredston-Hermann said.

Fredston-Hermann directs the senior and adult programs at the Central Queens Y, at 67-09 108th St. in Forest Hills. She created the volunteer fair in response to the demand for service opportunities from students and adults of all ages.

“I have been trying to create opportunities for adults of all ages. I see this moving forward as something that can be useful for both adults and seniors,” she said.

About 50 people, including both graduate students and retired seniors, came out in the rain to the fair, which was held Aug. 25.

The 16 organizations represented ranged from health care services, such as the Visiting Nurse Service, to animal care organizations like Bobbi and the Strays.

One group, Mentoring USA, pairs children ages 7 to 21 with adult volunteers who can provide guidance on life issues. Most mentors tend to be college students, but the organization would like to diversify.

“We want more people to be involved who are older and have more experience and can commit more time,” said recruitment coordinator Janelle M. Edwards.

At another booth, Andrea Depaula of North Shore-LIJ Forest Hills Hospital said she was looking for people with a calling for volunteering.

“Volunteers are a very important component of the workforce at Forest Hills,” she said. “They help enhance the experience of the patients. That’s what patients remember — the kindness of the volunteers.”

Sarah Roza Benyaminova, child psychologist and founder and director of the Russian Ethnic Bilingual Educational and Cultural Association Inc. hoped to find volunteers to expand her organization digitally.

“Money has been cut off, so it is very hard to run anything,” she said.

REBECA, founded 25 years ago, runs school workshops and a Russian-English radio talk show to help prevent drug use among youths.

Woodside resident and senior Ralph Schloss came to the fair with his wife and volunteers regularly at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and Self-Help, which assists the underserved in economic development.

Despite his current volunteer work, Schloss still found the fair useful.

“They offer you interesting subjects,” he said of the booths.

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