Volunteer coordinator Toni Miles said approximately 1,500 people are helped every month with July recently seeing 1,623 people served in the food warehouse alone.
The food warehouse, clothing center and social services are open to guests Monday through Friday, with varying hours.
“We are averaging over 1,600 volunteer hours per month. We wouldn’t be able to be open [this much], if we didn’t have this volunteer group,” Miles said. “If we can’t keep [our volunteer base], or increase that, it gets harder for us to serve.”
Statistics for 2011 and 2012 show steady growth in those receiving services. According to the reports, 3,439 families were served in 2011 with an increase of almost 300 for 2012’s 3,734. The number does not reveal how many times a family was served.
February through July of 2013 revealed record numbers for food bags distributed. These numbers included 1,371 in February; 1,322 in March; 1,480 in April; 1,586 in May; 1,432 in June; and 1,623 in July.
As the number of clients increases, so does the demand for additional help.
The Caring Place currently has approximately 130 volunteers. Miles explained the number is not as large as it seems when put in context. A minimum of 30 volunteers are needed for any given three-hour shift. Upwards of 40 are required for Tuesday nights.
“All of our volunteers really have to be full of love and, when they have contact with our clients, be able to display that love,” Miles said. “If we burn everyone out, then you are not at your best to serve.”
The most need is currently being seen for the 9 a.m. to noon shift Monday through Friday. Miles said this time is ideal for stay-at-home moms, retirees, students and those who are semi-retired.
Volunteers do not need to sign up for every shift. Every individual is spoken with to ensure their hours don’t conflict with their personal schedules.
A variety of options are available for those eager to serve.
“We need strong men and women who are willing to work in a warehouse setting who are able to lift 40 to 80 pounds,” Miles said. “We need individuals who can drive a forklift. We need drivers of our vans and truck to do the pickup for food and also to help us with our food drive when we need to deliver the big bins.”
Additional roles include monitors, registrars, food distributors and those helping in the clothing center.
A special need has been seen for clothing sorters. These volunteers determine which donations will be placed on the racks.
“We need someone who can take the responsibility ... of making those ‘standard’ decisions, as we call it. We have standards of what clothing we will give our clients,” Miles explained. “Our standards are, if it is something we will not wear, then we are not going to give it to our clients.”
Miles said she is not talking about style. The Caring Place’s emphasis is placed on providing good, quality items. This means no holes, stains or shabby clothes.
Those who find it difficult to sign up for a 9 a.m. to noon shift may also volunteer Fridays from 1 to 3. Clothing workers are needed to sort through items and place them on racks. This allows the clothing manager to complete administrative work.
TCP employees have stepped into the gap when the need for additional volunteers has arisen. Miles explained employees completing volunteer work impedes their ability to finish tasks like find additional funders, complete paperwork and get the word out about The Caring Place.
Those who are interested may sign up online at www.thecaringplanceonline.org. The emails will go straight to Miles, who said she will respond promptly.
“I just think volunteers are the best people in the world — people who unselfishly give of their selves and their time to ensure someone else is helped,” Miles said. “You can’t beat that.”