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Published: Monday, 4/28/2014

Volunteer fair pulls in 100 to mull work aiding kids, critters

Stautzenberger College student Cheryl Franklin speaks to Anne Grady Services representative Stephanie Reighard during the Community Volunteer Fair at Stautzenberger in Maumee. Stautzenberger College student Cheryl Franklin speaks to Anne Grady Services representative Stephanie Reighard during the Community Volunteer Fair at Stautzenberger in Maumee.
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In her spare time, Valerie Giovannucci, 56, of Maumee transports injured birds, ducks, and even opossums to a nursery where they are treated.

Julie Hannan, 31, of Lake Township and Tammy Skaggs, 41, of Sandusky on Monday signed up as volunteer ambassadors for ProMedica St. Luke’s Hospital. The two women are students at Stautzenberger College in Maumee, where more than 100 students and community residents attended a Community Volunteer Fair on Monday.

The goal was to communicate the importance of being good citizens and making positive contributions to the community, said Brittany Welker, the college’s community outreach coordinator.

Ms. Hannan said serving as a community volunteer is rewarding on many levels.

“You can sometimes get more out of it than what you put into it,” she said. “I enjoy working with special needs children. You think you have it rough; they teach you real quickly how to persevere in the midst of real trouble.”

The volunteer fair was an opportunity for people like Ms. Skaggs and Ms. Hannan to meet and network with representatives of medical organizations such as Hospice of Northwest Ohio and the University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio Hospital.

There are many reasons to volunteer, said Ms. Welker. Volunteering often combats depression because it keeps one interacting with others, increases social skills and self-confidence, and teaches valuable job skills. Serving as a volunteer also can impact the lives of others.

Harry Cummins III, executive director of Toledo’s International Boxing Club, has been helping to keep children off the streets, and out of gangs, for 16 years.

Mr. Cummins said he has plenty of volunteer opportunities, even for those who don’t know how to box. Volunteers who can encourage and motivate youth are always in need. Tutors of various school subjects and volunteers who are willing to supervise and help students when they clean up the gym would be helpful. His greatest wish is that women would volunteer to serve as mentors to the female boxers.

“Many of the kids who come here are from the streets,” he said. “Some of the ladies have been abused. I’m glad they trust me enough to come talk to me. But I think women would be better able to relate.”

Candee Ellsworth, the new executive director of Nature’s Nursery in Whitehouse, said the nonprofit agency is always looking for volunteers to feed and exercise animals, clean cages, answer phones, and set appointments.

“Sixty percent of the critters we take in are rehabilitated and released,” she said. Those that aren’t capable of surviving on their own are placed in homes or used for educational purposes in teaching about wildlife.

“The goal of the educational program is to build empathy for other living things that people may fear — things that may be in their backyards,” she said.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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