Janesville45.7°

Janesville family volunteers to help others in the community

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
March 23, 2012
— Bobi Abraham and her 10-year-old son, Brennan, were volunteering Tuesday during game night at Cedar Crest.

Bobi watched at bingo for those who needed help and then instructed Brennan to stand nearby.


"He had these two ladies, each at different tables, and they wanted his help. So every number called, he ran back and forth because they were calling for him. They could have easily done it themselves, but they just love that youthful attention," Bobi said.


Bobi and Brennan are among 90 volunteers at Cedar Crest, a nonprofit senior living community that provides memory care, assisted living, skilled nursing and independent living, said Linda Lyke, volunteer coordinator.


The local volunteers are among the more than 64.3 million people who volunteered nationwide through or for an organization at least once between September 2010 and September 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Despite the big numbers, more volunteers are needed at churches, youth and service organizations and nonprofits. The United Way Volunteer Network, the Voluntary Action Center and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Rock County frequently list their needs for volunteers in local publications.


Lyke said the number of volunteers has tripled in two years at Cedar Crest, but there's a demand for more.


"I have a good, long list of activities—from birthday parties to games and crafts—for volunteers to help with. We also have chapel services that residents need help getting to, someone to visit one-on-one with residents and take them on wheelchair walks," she said.


The skill, diversity, creativity and perspective volunteers provide is "priceless," Lyke said.


"We have students, seniors, and all ages in between. We even have disabled volunteers, retired, those still working, those looking for work, families and couples," she said.


That's what is so wonderful about volunteering, Lyke said.


"You can meet your needs for your family but also meet the need within that nonprofit organization," she said.


Bobi agreed: "What we're doing today really is making a difference in these people's lives. It kind of gives you a purpose.


"The residents really appreciate that we're there so they're able to do activities, and that's one of the reasons we always try to make sure we can make it," she said.


Instilling volunteerism is important to the Abraham family. They also volunteer at their church.


"It's something we can do together, as a family, shows the boys we're helping people with things in their lives and that someday we may be in their situations and we'll want people helping us."


To help


Volunteers are always needed at Cedar Crest, 1702 S. River Road, Janesville. Anyone interested in volunteering can call (608) 373-6327 or visit cedarcrestnet.com and click on the "Volunteer" tab.


Churches, youth and service organizations, plus other nonprofits, also are in need of more volunteers. To help, contact:


-- United Way of North Rock County's Volunteer Network: Visit unitedwayjanesville.org, stop in at 205 N. Main St., Janesville, or call (608) 757-3058.


-- The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Rock County: Visit rsvp-rock.org, visit 2433 S. Riverside Drive, Beloit, or call (608) 756-4281 or (608) 362-9593.


-- The Voluntary Action Center: Visit vacbeloit.org, stop in at 611 E. Grand Ave., Beloit, or call (608) 365-1278.

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