It seems impossible that it had never been done before.
It is a brilliant idea that dovetails the needs of and the giving nature of northeastern Connecticut.
Putnam Rotary Club member Melissa Bonsall said she was pondering the work Rotary does one day and thought, “Beyond what we all do, how can we inspire the Rotary’s motto, ‘Service Above Self’.”
The answer, she thought, was a volunteerism expo. She asked around to see if organizations would be interested in a “volunteer fair” and organizations were “excited” about the concept, she said. “It struck me that this type of event had never occurred,” she added.
After the concept was OK’d by the Putnam Rotary Club Board of Directors, Bonsall and her committee got to work organizing. At Your Service: A Volunteerism Expo was born.
The expo will be held from 9 a.m. to noon March 16 at Putnam High School cafeteria (enter from the back of the school). There will be refreshments. The snow date is March 23. For more information, call Bonsall at 860-456-6208.
Bonsall, the chief operating officer at Generations Family Health Center, said more than 100 volunteer opportunities are signed up for the expo.
Those residents longing to give back but don’t know quite how can learn about hundreds of volunteer opportunities in northeastern Connecticut.
“Organizations are looking for individuals who wish to share their skills, time and talent as a way to strengthen our community and its services. There are options available for a range of interests and abilities.”
Bonsall said volunteers can wander through the expo and see what fits them, what fits their schedules. It could be a short-term volunteer offer or a continuing offer, she said.
Some of the opportunities are for a one-time event, and some are for ongoing support. Organizations come from a wide area as the Killingly-Brooklyn and the Plainfield Rotary Clubs have teamed up with the Putnam Rotary. “We all have the same motto, Service Above Self, the same message,” Bonsall said.
The expo is perfect for students looking to fulfill the community service portion of their graduation requirements; and also adults and retirees who wish to get involved in the community and offer their time and talent.
“Lots of people would like to volunteer but they don’t know how to go about it, so this (expo) fills the niche,” Bonsall added.
In northeastern Connecticut volunteers are the lifeblood of many organizations. Bonsall said some groups looking for volunteer help include: firefighters, health services, Scouts, land preservation, sports and youth organizations, food distribution, nonprofits, historical groups and many more.


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