Make a difference in the lives of children and adults with disabilities. Volunteers of all ages, from ages 13 to seniors, share, care and take an interest in a variety of programs. Volunteer opportunities abound today in many non-profit organizations, including The Kennedy Center, who utilizes more than 400 volunteers annually.

Have some free time on your hands? Want to acquire some new job seeking skills? Do you have some professional skills to teach others? Now is a great time of year to get involved.

“Our volunteers are the heartbeat of The Kennedy Center,” said Barbara Germak, volunteer coordinator at The Kennedy Center, “and range from students to retirees. Volunteers contribute as little as one hour a week to as many as 20 hours a week, depending on an individual’s schedule. Our agency depends on our large corps of volunteers to enhance our programs operationally.”

Volunteers keep score for weekend bowling, use their sign language skills, and even play the drums for senior programs. “We match your skills to fit our many programming needs,” added Germak.

Specifically, volunteer opportunities fall into four categories: interns, service learning college students, capstone seniors and general volunteer opportunities. More than 50 interns a year typically earn college credits from The Kennedy Center, primarily human services and recreation therapy majors from the University of Bridgeport. Students accrue 180 hours for credit.

Service learning college students have another volunteer goal in mind: 16 hours community service for a religious class. Sacred Heart University students who major in human services are involved in this partnership. Likewise, capstone seniors are selected for high academic achievement. These student volunteers work at the Kennedy Center for two months for approximately 150 hours.

There are many other general volunteer opportunities available at The Kennedy Center. Volunteers with the following skills are needed: IPAD training, swimming, graphic arts, film and video, reading, arts and crafts, and sharing a specialty such as knitting. In addition, the Autism Program attracts many high school students who act as peer volunteers and return year after year. As many as 25 students often volunteer at Camp Tepee in Monroe and provide support to children with disabilities.

For more information about volunteering at The Kennedy Center, contact Barbara Germak, at 203-332-4535, ext. 270, or e-mail bgermak@thekennedyctr.org.

The Kennedy Center is a nationally accredited, non-profit, community-based rehabilitation organization serving Stratford, the region and 2,400 individuals annually. The agency actively responds to the needs of the community by offering innovative, comprehensive service options to persons with disabilities and special needs, from birth to senior years.