Volunteering benefits those who serve as much as local organizations | ParkRecord.com

Volunteering benefits those who serve as much as local organizations

Donated time gives back to the community

Amelie Corson Park Record intern
For information about EATS Park City, visit eatsparkcity.org   For information about PC Tots, visit pctots.org
Volunteer Katrina Kmak leads a group of toddlers in song at PC Tots. PC Tots Program Director Melissa Mendez says volunteers show kids “that they are safe in this world and their needs matter.”
Courtesy of PC Tots

Volunteering is a fantastic way to give back to the community. In such a tight-knit town like Park City, volunteering makes a tangible impact not only on the lives of community members but also on the lives of volunteers themselves. 

Joyce Cossin, 14-year Park City resident and 12-year volunteer at local nonprofits and churches, stated that “volunteering provides me with a sense of purpose and a sense of community.” 

She continued that volunteering allows individuals to both learn new skills and get out of their comfort zones, while helping others at the same time. 

“The main benefit is that it is rewarding,” she said. “What you get is the appreciation of the people you’re working with and the connection you’re making with others. Sometimes it’s just that smile you get knowing that you may have lifted someone up that day and moment with your volunteering.” 

Volunteers will feel refreshed from their rewarding hard work of creating a more beautiful community…” Meaghan Miller-Gitlin, EATS Park City executive director

Cossin recommends that those interested in volunteering should choose an organization they “believe in and that does something [they] are passionate about.” 

Due to the wealth of nonprofits looking for volunteers, Park City is a great place to discover one’s passion for community involvement.

At EATS Park City, for example, volunteers have helped the nutrition advocacy organization teach over 3,460 kids, grow over 600 pounds of fresh food, divert 15,000 pounds of food waste and provide almost 12,000 backpack meals to children facing food insecurity. 

Executive Director Meaghan Miller-Gitlin, said there are “so many stories of kids helping kids.” Whether it’s weeding gardens, building beds, sowing seeds, instructing cooking classes or bundling food distributions, there are plenty of ways for volunteers to get involved.

Miller-Gitlin added that kids of all ages can volunteer in different ways. She said for gardening specifically, “older groups are preferred, ideally (ages) 15+, but we are of course open to younger groups.” 

Volunteers of all ages can benefit from serving local nonprofits.
Courtesy of EATS Park City

In other areas, like food bundling, all ages can assist. And for elementary cooking classes, middle, junior high and high school students all provide support.

Though some background in gardening or cooking is useful, EATS gladly accepts volunteers with any level of experience or skill.

“Skill wise, we are open to any,” Miller-Gitlin said. “We are willing to accommodate accessibility needs in order to get folks into the garden.” 

Still, “people with specific skills in things like gardening or irrigation would be awesome to have,” she said.

In addition to aiding underserved populations, Miller-Gitlin adds that volunteering has a lot to offer for the volunteers as well. 

“Volunteers will feel refreshed from their rewarding hard work of creating a more beautiful community,” she said.

However, volunteering is not the only way to get involved. 

Miller-Gitlin said that “If people are eager to get involved but do not have the time to volunteer, we are happy to accept gifts, whether itemized or monetary.” All contributions help support the work EATS Park City does with its gardens, cooking classes and food security efforts. 

Another Park City nonprofit that eagerly accepts volunteers is PC Tots, an early childhood center focused on providing an affordable, diverse and safe learning environment for Summit County toddlers. 

Program Director Melissa Mendez stressed how there is something for everybody at PC Tots. 

“If rocking babies makes you happy, you can volunteer in an infant room,” she said. “If reading stories, singing and playing are your thing, you can volunteer in any classroom, ages 12 months to 5 years old.”

Anyone from teachers to handymen can find a way to help, said Mendez. 

“If you enjoy teaching reading, our 4/5 classroom is the place to be,” she said. “If you are a handyman or love to organize, we could use your help with facilities.”

Even simple interactions have massive impacts on toddlers.

“The most valuable time to invest in children is the early childhood ages zero to five years when…90% of the brain develops,” Mendez said. She called thinking about how that 90% impacts mental health, social and emotional growth and literacy “an essential focus at PC Tots.” 

Helping toddlers benefits not only the young kids but the volunteers as well.  

“Volunteers love giving back,” Mendez said. “One volunteer stated that she loves seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter in the classroom. Another volunteer loves rocking the babies; she loves supporting the teachers in the classroom as well as snuggling and feeding little ones their bottles.”

Mendez added that volunteers help PC Tots make toddlers feel appreciated from young ages. 

She said volunteers help teach babies “that they are safe in this world and their needs matter. They matter.”

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