DATE POSTED: Thursday, January 20, 2011 5:05 PM EST
By Lea Kahn
Jenner Beck is always looking for opportunities to volunteer, so when she learned of a volunteer recruitment fair and food drive at the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, there was no need to think twice about attending it.
”I am always interested in looking for opportunities to volunteer in the community and knowing it would be all in one place made it very attractive,” Ms. Beck said as she toured the nearly 20 booths in the church’s all-purpose room Monday.
Ms. Beck said that while she is “service-minded,” she was even more aware of it Monday because it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The national holiday, which celebrates the civil rights leader’s birthday, is focused on volunteer activities and community service.
Several volunteer opportunities caught Ms. Beck’s eye, but the Princeton resident said she needed to read the literature from those groups before deciding whether to volunteer with any of the nonprofit groups.
Lisa Pliskin, who also lives in Princeton, enjoys helping people and that’s why she spent about 30 minutes visiting the booths at the church on Main Street in Lawrenceville.
”I am blessed and I enjoy giving back (to the community),” Ms. Pliskin said. “I have just been lucky in my life and I feel like I owe it to do what I can to help. I think it is a lot of fun to help other people.”
While Ms. Beck and Ms. Pliskin enjoy volunteer activities, retired teacher Mary Ann Martin is looking for ways to keep busy and involved. She has time to help other people and that’s what drew the Pennington resident to the event.
”I am just looking for something to keep me busy and out of trouble,” Ms. Martin said with a smile. She is a former Lawrence resident and also taught in the township school district.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Volunteer Recruitment Fair and Food Drive was co-sponsored by the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, CONTACT of Mercer County and its Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and VolunteerConnect. The price of admission was $3, or a can of food that would be turned over to the Crisis Ministry.
The purpose of the event is to recruit volunteers for local nonprofit and community organizations. Invitations to participate were sent to about 100 agencies. About two dozen expressed an interest in taking part, said Hugh Adams, director of RSVP of Mercer County.
The volunteer fair also provides a chance for the nonprofit groups to learn about each other and to possibly share volunteers, Mr. Adams said. He added that he hopes the two-year event will continue because “we think it is a service to the community.”
Meanwhile, the agencies represented Monday ranged from Enable Inc., which helps individuals with disabilities to live full and independent lives, to Court Appointed Special Advocates of Mercer County. CASA speaks up in court for the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, and who have been placed in foster homes, group homes or treatment facilities.
Lawrence Meals on Wheels and Interfaith Caregivers Trenton were represented Monday. The Meals on Wheels program delivers a hot meal to the elderly and residents who are homebound. Interfaith Caregivers matches homebound elderly residents and those with disabilities with volunteers who provide help with the tasks of daily living.
”The intent is to provide a chance for volunteers to connect with the agencies and to set them up for a lifetime of service,” Mr. Adams said. “We hope people will make a connection to all different kinds of service."