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It's that time of year again, surprisingly soon and utterly relentless. Some may have been planning for, even rejoicing in, this impending eve, while others procrastinated, stealing one more day of guiltless debauchery. But the zero hour has arrived; it's time to decide some definites for the next 365 days.
Why not resolve to break away from the old, tired resolutions that are soon forgotten? This year, resolve to do something that makes a difference. Instead of committing and failing (for the fourth year running) to exercise off those pounds in a gym, commit time to a disabled or abused child. Instead of starving yourself on a new diet, opt to deliver food to the needy. Your time is more precious than money, so save some time to give a helping hand.
Central Florida is home to scores of nonprofits that need your help. The following list is just a sample. So while you're still full of punch and vigor, resolve to do something good for yourself by doing good for others. It's good for your soul -- and nonfattening as well.
AIDS Resource Alliance provides case management for clients with AIDS, supplying multiple services including dental, medical, counseling and clothing. Volunteers act as one-on-one buddies and phone friends, provide transportation and assist with office help, health fairs, special events and cleaning clients' homes. Contact Sharon Raddock; 701 E. South St., Orlando 32801; (407) 894-2233, ext. 38.
CENTAUR, or Central Florida AIDS Unified Resources Inc., provides support to those affected by HIV/AIDS. Volunteer services include: providing information and referrals, working as a 24-hour crisis hotline operator, helping with distribution of food and clothing, lending a hand with outreach education events, and being a "Buddy Support" care team member. Contact Ron Ford; 741 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando 32804; (407) 849-1452.
Hope and Help Center of Central Florida is a resource for persons with HIV/AIDS. Volunteers provide transportation and friendship for clients and help with office work. Contact Laurie Torres; 1935 Wood-crest Drive, Winter Park 32792; (407) 228-2277.
Serenity House Pediatric AIDS Foundation seeks volunteers to assist with programs aiding children and their families affected by AIDS. Needs are for office receptionists and delivery drivers, fundraising personnel, and participants in the Holiday Angel Committee. Contact Tisela Veira or Marta Lamberty; 2500 Curry Ford Road, Orlando 32806; (407) 894-2437.
Canine Companions for Independence strives to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by providing trained assistance dogs and ongoing support. Volunteers provide foster homes to raise a puppy for up to 14 months or assist the staff with various tasks in one of five regional centers. Contact Liz Brock; 1073-B Orienta Ave., Altamonte Springs; www.caninecompanions.org; (407) 834-2555.
Orlando Humane Society seeks volunteers to care for animals. Opportunities include administrative assistance, animal exercise escorts, bathers, greeters, thrift-shop assistance and foster-care staff. Contact Stacie Depew; 2727 Americana Blvd., Orlando 32839; www.ohs-spca.org; (407) 351-7722.
Arts & Education
Central Florida Theatre Alliance is a three-year-old collective that represents 78 producing groups in Central Florida. Various theater groups -- including the Orlando International Fringe Festival, Theatre Downtown, SAK Theatre and the Civic Theatres of Central Florida -- put volunteers to work as performers, ushers, ticket takers, concession salespeople, crew members and office assistants. Contact Terry Olson; 398 W. Amelia St., Orlando 32801; www.orlandotheatre.com; (407) 872-2382.
Friends of the Orange County Library System run a recycled-book store and support special projects. Volunteers run the cash register, assist customers, stock shelves and sort books. Contact Laura Murru or Marilyn Hoffman; Orlando Public Library, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando 32801; (407) 835-7323.
American Red Cross of Central Florida uses volunteers to make daily calls to elderly shut-ins, serve as daytime delivery drivers, act as disaster-relief volunteers in emergencies, and teach CPR, first aid, water safety and HIV/AIDS classes during days and evenings. Contact Quisa Foster or Judy Ensign; 5 N. Bumby Ave., Orlando 32803; (407) 894-4141.
Central Florida Helpline is a free, confidential call-in service for anyone who has a problem, needs to talk or would like someone to pray with. Volunteers must complete a 13-week training program. Contact Phyllis Oas; P.O. Box 941524, Maitland 32794; www.intpro.com/helpline; (407) 740-7408.
Restore Orlando provides a once-a-month emergency food boxes, after-school tutoring, evening meals for children, a thrift store and home-buying application assistance for needy families. Contact volunteer coordinator; 1030 W. Kaley Ave., Orlando 32856; email@example.com; (407) 246-0061.
The Salvation Army seeks help with their efforts to provide food, clothing and household items to the community. Volunteers can serve as data-entry clerks, sorting assistants, clerical assistants and mailing assistants. Contact Lisette Dolby; 416 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando 32804; (407) 423-8581, ext. 215.
We Care Crisis Center's 24-hour crisis line and teen hotline offer confidential support and referrals. Counselors undergo a 60-hour training period before answering the phones and must commit to one year's service of four hours a week. Contact Davus Jenkins or Sara Hintzmann; 112 Pasadena Place, Orlando 32803; www.wecarecrisiscenter.org; (407) 425-5201.
Alzheimer's Association provides a telephone hotline for information and referral to those affected by the disease. The group also organizes a speaker's bureau, newsletter, lending library, and educational and training programs. Volunteers help with clerical duties, data entry and special events. Contact Ann Dumont; 2010 Mizell Ave., Winter Park 32792; (407) 629-1997.
Alzheimer's Resource Center strives to lighten the burden and improve the quality of life for families affected by Alzheimer's. Volunteers help with mailings, an annual conference and health fairs. Contact volunteer coordinator; 69 W. Underwood St., Orlando 32856; (407) 843-1910.
Alzheimer's Respite Care Program provides assistance to people afflicted with memory loss and their caregivers. Volunteers work under staff supervision as activity assistants and companions at six day-care locations as well as in-home. Contact Susan Shaheen; 808 W. Central Blvd., Orlando 32805; (407) 423-5311.
Center for Independent Living helps those with disabilities by providing daily living-skills training, peer support, job-search assistance and social activities. Volunteers assist with office work and fund-raising events, and individuals proficient in sign language assist as TDD operators. Contact Ginger Malcom; 720 N. Denning Drive, Winter Park 32789; (407) 623-1070.
Mental Health Association of Central Florida provides information and referrals. Volunteers help with phones, mailings and clerical work. Contact Bob Decker; 608 Mariposa St., Orlando 32801; (407) 843-1563.
Center for Older Adult Services provides assistance designed to keep seniors in their homes. Volunteers help with clerical needs, field trips and educational programs, and are required to attend a three-hour orientation session. Contact Leslie Godleski; 2010 Mizell Ave., Winter Park 32792; firstname.lastname@example.org; (407) 629-5771.
RSVP, or Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, places those ages 55 and older into volunteer positions throughout Orange County, mostly with agencies whose focus is education, public safety and the environment. Volunteers also perform in vocal and dance groups that entertain at health-care facilities, schools and events. Contact Gina Sabetto; 99 E. Marks St., Suite 102, Orlando 32803; (407) 422-1535.
Seniors First/Meals on Wheels helps senior citizens maintain their independence through nutrition, home improvement and support services. Current needs are for drivers and receptionists. Contact Katherine Zimmerman; 5395 L.B. McLeod Road, Orlando 32811; (407) 292-0177, ext. 240.
Coastal Conservation Association Florida is dedicated to conserving and protecting Florida's marine resources through education and advocacy. Volunteers assist with administration services including mailings, data entry and filing. Contact volunteer coordinator; 1890 Semoran Blvd., Suite 355, Winter Park 32792; www.cca-florida.com; (407) 672-2058.
Community Service Center offers social services to families in south Orange County including financial assistance, food, clothing, and eye care. Volunteers aid with answering phones, filing and food shopping. Contact Geraldine Buchin; 621 Wilkes Ave., Orlando 32809; (407) 851-5920.
Esteem provides family programs that focus on academics, sports, the arts, employment skills and volunteerism. The organization works with community groups to help them hire and train neighborhood residents to implement, administer and fund their own social programs. Volunteers engage in public relations, fund-raising, human resources, computer operation, special-event planning and academic tutoring. Contact Julie Rice; 718 Margaret Square, Winter Park 32789; (407) 645-1193.
Justice and Peace Office sponsors various programs including Single Mothers in a Learning Environment, Partners in Ground Level Justice, GROWS Literary Council, and the Central Florida Religion & Labor Coalition. All of these programs work with volunteers in their attempt to foster self-help and education for low-income families in an effort to teach them skills to improve their standard of living. Contact Sister Teresa McElwee; 52 E. Main St., Apopka 32703; Tmcel43280@aol.com; (407) 889-0100.
Food & Necessities
Goodwill Industries of Central Florida needs volunteers to help sort and process donated goods at any of their retail stores, which sell donated clothing and other household items to fund employment and training programs. Contact Dorea Mays; 6400 S. Orange Ave., Orlando 32809; www.goodwill.org; (407) 857-0659.
Second Harvest Food Bank collects and stores donated food for nonprofit agencies that feed the ill, needy and children. Volunteer options include food-drive pickups, food-drive sponsors, food sorters, office assistance and help with special events. Contact Sheryl Weaver; 2008 Brengle Ave., Orlando 32808; www.orlando.digitalcity.com/secondharvest; (407) 295-1066.
Health & Medicine
American Cancer Society aims to save lives and diminish suffering caused by the disease through research, education, advocacy and a comprehensive patient services program. Volunteers help with office work, events and mailings. Contact Skye Bowlin; 1601 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando 32804; www.cancer.org; (407) 843-8680, ext. 532.
Central Florida Blood Bank provides blood-products to more than 40 health-care facilities and operates other services such as a tissue bank, donor programs and educational programs. Volunteer needs include drivers, donor services and lab assistance. Contact Shirley Burke; 32 W. Gore St., Orlando 32806; www.cfbb.org; (407) 849-6100, ext. 8507.
Health Care Center for the Homeless provides free medical, eye and dental care, and seeks volunteer support from primary care physicians, dentists, optometrists, ophthalmologists, nurses and mental-health counselors. Contact Paul McGlone; 11 N. Parramore Ave., Orlando 32801; (407) 428-5751.
Leukemia Society of America's local chapter provides family support groups, aid for treatment-related expenses, advocacy, information and education for patients, their families and the public. Volunteers provide in-office clerical help and data entry. Contact Colleen McCormick; 3101 Maguire Blvd., Suite 225, Orlando 32803; www.leukemia.org; (407) 898-0733.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society's mid-Florida chapter offers support to more than 30,000 people in 23 counties affected by MS with programs that include education, counseling, literature, emergency respite funding and self-help groups. Volunteers assist with all. Contact Cari Py; 3659 Maguire Blvd., Suite 110, Orlando 32803; www.nmss.org; (407) 896-3873, ext. 22.
Prevent Blindness Florida screens for eye problems and prevention of blindness. The organization trains and certifies volunteers to screen both adults and children. Contact Doris Dickson; 3825 Henderson Blvd., Suite 402, Tampa 33629; www.preventblindness.org; (813) 874-2020, ext. 107.
Housing & Homelessness
Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida offers shelter, food, housing options, education, advocacy and support services focused on returning homeless individuals and families to self-sufficiency. Volunteers provide general and tutorial assistance to all programs. Contact Roberta Bloom; 639 W. Central Blvd., Orlando 32801; (407) 426-1250.
Covenant House Florida provides a service center for homeless and runaway youths under 21 years old offering meals, clothing, and use of telephones and laundry facilities. Counseling, family reunification, life skills and self-esteem sessions, GED classes and employment assistance also are provided. Current volunteer need is for teacher-certified tutors to help for 2-3 hours per week; needs will increase in the spring with the opening of a shelter. Contact Pat Grant; 888 N. Orange Ave., Orlando 32801; www.covenanthouse.org; (407) 426-7888.
Habitat for Humanity has built 77 homes for families in need since 1987, with five more currently under construction in Orlando, and seeks construction volunteers for weekdays and Saturdays. Volunteers also assist with office help. Contact Diane Yost; 808 W. Central Blvd., Orlando 32805; www.habitat-orlando.org; (407) 648-4567.
Orlando Union Rescue Mission provides shelter for homeless families and meals for the hungry. Volunteers assist in the daycare center, tutor both adults and children in the Career Learning Center, cook and serve three meals a day in the cafeteria, and cut hair in the beauty shop. Contact Ladonne Carpenter; P.O. Box 2791, Orlando 32802-2791; (407) 422-4855.
A Center for Women offers free pregnancy tests, confidential care, education about pregnancy, fetal development and abortion, adoption assistance, referrals for medical care, shelter, clothing and baby supplies. Volunteers provide one-on-one education and counseling support, organize baby-closet donations, and help with fund-raising, clerical work and special events. Contact Rhonda Morales; 315 N. Wymore Road, Winter Park 32789; (407) 628-5433.
Harbor House is a center against domestic violence funded in part by the city of Orlando and Orange County, and which provides temporary shelter, counseling and support for persons vulnerable in an abusive environment. Volunteers assist with a variety of programs including a 24-hour crisis line, referrals, community education, children's services and teen-dating violence-prevention programs. Contact Linnette Padron; P.O. Box 680748, Orlando 32868; (407) 895-6099.
Living Hope International Ministry's New Beginnings Home Treatment Program assists women 18 years and older by providing a homelike, secure environment to help them recover from chemical dependency, abuse and a dysfunctional lifestyle. Volunteers assist with clerical work, cold calling, telephones, fund-raising and transporting residents. Contact Myra Richardson; P.O. Box 560403, Orlando 32856; LHIM@gdi.net; (407) 422-6797.
Boys & Girls Club develops character and leadership in youth while providing education and career development, life skills, sports, recreation and exposure to the arts. Volunteers help with programs at any one of 13 Central Florida locations. Contact Pam Brandstadt; 801 N. Magnolia Ave. Suite 305, Orlando 32802; www.bgccf.org; (407) 841-6855.
Charlee Family Care Services of Central Florida provides foster care and shelter for abused or neglected children. Volunteer clerical help is needed Mondays through Fridays. Contact Martha Barnhill; 11875 High Tech Ave., Suite 200, Orlando; (407) 273-8444.
Children's Home Society seeks TeenPal Volunteers to provide emotional support, weekly contact, transportation to meetings, and attendance of monthly group outings for four to six hours per week. Contact Renee Bleecker; 2647 Michigan Ave., Kissimmee 34744; (407) 846-5220.
Dividends School Volunteer Program is a school-based program in Seminole County Public Schools that promotes community involvement. Volunteers are needed to teach conversational Spanish, speak about careers and hobbies, act as mentors, and assist with the Take Stock in Children scholarship program or the second-chance program for high-school students. Contact Jane Lane; 400 E. Lake Mary Blvd., Sanford 32773; email@example.com; (407) 320-0178.
Junior Achievement volunteers work with teachers in grades K-12 to serve as role models and help students grasp economic fundamentals and career opportunities, encouraging them to develop skills through games and activities. Classroom training and materials are provided. Contact Kim Gwin; 2121 Camden Road, Orlando 32803; www.jaorlando.org; (407) 898-2121, ext. 21.
Make-a-Wish Foundation fulfills the special wish of children with life-threatening illnesses. Volunteers assist with wish fulfillment, special events, fund-raising, airport greeting and office assistance. Contact Sheryl Mays; 663 S. Harold Ave., Winter Park 32789; www.wish.org; (407) 246-1974.
New Hope Center offers comprehensive services for grief and loss including the Children's Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, and Grieving Children Services, which provides support for children grieving the loss of a loved one. New Hope trains volunteers to support programs, operate its Thrift & Gift shops and assist with fund-raising. Contact Rosie Wilder or Yolande Fiola (407-648-0160 for thrift shop); 100 E. Sybelia Ave., Suite 300, Maitland 32751; www.newhopeorlando.org; (407) 629-8920.
Osceola County Children's Home is a residential facility for youths who are part of Florida's foster-care system due to neglect, abandonment or abuse. Volunteers assist with emotional and educational needs. Contact Stacy Harris; 2534 E. Neptune Road, Kissimmee 34744; (407) 847-6048.
Pace Center for Girls works to improve the quality of life for at-risk girls by helping them further their education, build self-esteem, and develop personal, social and family relationship skills. Volunteer opportunities include career coach mentors, office assistance, arts and crafts instruction, intern coordinators, transportation, study buddies and general topic speakers. Contact volunteer coordinator; 33 W. Washington St., Orlando 32801; (407) 843-1775.
Citizen Volunteer Program organizes volunteers for a variety of programs sponsored by the city. Needs include storytelling assistants to tutor youths; park rangers at Lake Eola; Leu Gardens volunteers; help with the police department's fingerprinting ID program, reception desk and Citizens Observer program; computer-lab tutors; and a Neon Dance Club host to coordinate events for physically and mentally challenged adults. Contact Donna Wyatt; 400 S. Orange Ave., Orlando 32801; firstname.lastname@example.org. fl.us; (407) 246-2082.
Heart of Florida United Way provides volunteer information and referral services, mentoring programs and agency training programs in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. Contact Debbie Episcopo; 1940 Traylor Blvd., Orlando 32804; www.unitedway.org; (407) 835-0900, ext. 364.