GONZALES — If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to volunteer more, the nonprofit organization Volunteer Ascension has plenty of service opportunities for 2016.
And the organization has made it even easier to volunteer by forming an online scheduling system for people to click on service opportunities that best fit their time frames and interests, said Sherry Denig, Volunteer Ascension executive director.
“Being able to go online any time and take a look at the calendar has been really helpful,” Denig said.
Around 300 volunteers signed up for service events in 2015 using the online system while many others signed up for Volunteer Ascension events over the phone, Denig said.
Many of these phone calls were from parents looking for volunteer service events for their older children, she said.
Volunteering as a family is an activity Volunteer Ascension promotes, and as a result, the organization places these older children, too young to volunteer alone, alongside relatives, Denig said.
Denig said these older children, usually 10 or 11 years old, have volunteered with their family members sorting and sizing clothes at school uniform drives and at the Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival’s information booth.
Volunteer Ascension also has created the ConnecTeens program for youth ages 12-17 to connect with volunteer projects in the community.
As the kids grow, they mature and learn about the value of volunteering, Denig said.
“That’s a great thing to watch those 12-year-olds come in and learn how to serve,” Denig said.
Volunteer Ascension is encouraging families to volunteer together on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Jan. 18 when many parents and children are off work and school, Denig said.
There are many types of volunteer opportunities, especially in local nursing homes, Denig said, and Volunteer Ascension usually gives a few recommendations to families to help get the ball rolling.
The organization usually begins to see an uptick in volunteer requests from individuals starting around Thanksgiving and Christmas when families seek to help those in need, Denig said.
The start of a new year also brings in more volunteers seeking to keep their resolutions, she said.
That’s why Volunteer Ascension keeps their online calendar full for January and February to give the public plenty of volunteer choices.
For information about Volunteer Ascension, visit the organization’s website at www.volunteerascension.org or call (225) 644-7655.