Calling All Helpers

Area residents seeking volunteer opportunities over the summer months need look no further than St. Susan Center.

The center is calling for as many volunteers as are interested in helping with the preparation and distribution of meals to those in need.

“We’re opening this up to anyone who may be interested, even if they can only do it once a month,” said Sue Colwell, executive director of St. Susan Center. “During the holidays, people tend to have more time and think of volunteering more. For us (at St. Susan Center), with kids getting out of school and things like that, we tend to get – for lack of a better word – mobbed down here.”

During the summer months, the center maintains consistently scheduled hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 9 a.m. to noon, noon to 2 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. on weekends.

Colwell said St. Susan Center provides more meals during the summer months than any other time in the year, indicating an 18 percent increase in the average number of meals served on weekends and a 20 percent increase during the week. On a typical summer weekend, she said more than 300 meals can be served over a two-hour period.

In contrast to the summertime spike in service, Colwell said the center’s volunteer base tends to decrease during these months. She said weekends present the area of most need, but any support the center can receive in the way of additional volunteers would be greatly appreciated.

“It’s difficult to serve people without our volunteers,” she said. “We have a small staff, and we really depend on our volunteers. The amount of money people have throughout the month varies, but sometimes during the week we’ll serve over 500 meals; and we couldn’t do that without the support of our community.”

Colwell said the duties of volunteers include helping to bus tables, prepare food, wash dishes and serve the meals. The volunteers will coordinate with a cook who works as a member of the center staff.

In addition to the regular meals it serves, the center has piloted a program called “Breakfast Tomorrow,” which is aimed at providing children with an extra meal outside of the building.

“When the kids come to eat a meal, they receive a bagged meal on their way out the door,” Colwell said. “It consists of shelf-stable milk, cereal or a healthy snack bar, another dairy product and something to carry them through breakfast the following day. That way, we can be sure they’re getting at least two meals a day.”

Volunteers are required to assist with bagging and distributing the meals under the “Breakfast Tomorrow” program.

St. Susan Center served a total of 108,242 meals last year, representing a 9.38 percent from 2012. The upward trend is expected to continue this year, as totals for the early months of 2014 have thus far exceeded those of 2013.

The center is located in the Jamestown Gateway Center at 31 Water St. For more information on becoming a volunteer, call Woody Howland at 664-2253, ext. 2, or visit www.stsusancenter.org, and fill out the form provided on t