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Volunteers help keep FCSS programs running

Volunteer Week is set for April 24 to 30.

ST. PAUL - Among the many programs offered through the Town of St. Paul FCSS, there are a few that rely on the support and dedication of volunteers.

With many pandemic restrictions eased, many programs and events are back up and running.

One important program managed to persevere and continued to operate throughout the pandemic, with changes made to ensure everyone's safety. The Meals on Wheels program "maintains and improves the nutritional health of those who are unable to prepare adequate meals for themselves," according to information from the Town of St. Paul FCSS.

The service is offered to a variety of people - such as seniors, new moms, individuals with impairments, and more. The meals cost $5 each, and are delivered thanks to a core of volunteers, Monday to Friday during the lunch hour.

New volunteers are always welcomed to contact the Town of St. Paul FCSS to become part of the program. 

“The more you have, the lighter the load it is for everyone," says Lynn Smid, Director with the Town of St. Paul FCSS. She adds that the volunteers were crucial to continuing the service throughout the pandemic.

Volunteer appreciation

With Volunteer Week coming up, the Regional St. Paul FCSS is happy to welcome the Caring Cups campaign back for 2022. The initiative acts as a way to show appreciation for volunteers in St. Paul and throughout the area.

From April 25 to 29, volunteers with a variety of organizations will be able to use coupons supplied by businesses to enjoy a beverage. 

Organizations picked up their coupons last week to hand them out to volunteers. From coaches to volunteers who perform a range of services that help the community, over 400 coupons went out to volunteers, according to Smid.

Groups that want to get involved for the next Caring Cups campaign can reach out to the Regional St. Paul FCSS office.

Smid says she's grateful to the businesses who stepped up to provide the thank-you coupons.

So much more

Another service offered by FCSS that is reliant on volunteers is the income tax program. The program offers a hand to residents who have a modest income and a simple tax situation.

Volunteers are trained on the software and help seniors or low income families, for example, who need help filing their taxes. 

Although this season is nearly over, Smid says there is training available - usually offered in the fall - for those interested in becoming a volunteer. And the volunteer opportunity is open to people of all ages, she adds. Youth who are wanting to help out can also take the training and learn how to use the software. 

"Everything is provided when they become a volunteer for that program," says Smid.

With plenty of other opportunities available to volunteers now that events are being organized, there's a range of places to offer a helping hand - from the St. Paul Youth Council, to seniors week activities, for example. 

“We want to encourage people to get involved," says Smid, adding, "It's nice to have volunteers back."

When asked why she would encourage residents to step up and volunteer, Smid says there are plenty of benefits.

"It allows them to interact with community members they’ve never met before. It brings a sense of fulfillment when you're able to help," and there are also mental health benefits to volunteerism. 

This year, National Volunteer Week runs from April 24 to 30. The 2022 theme is: “Volunteering Is Empathy In Action.”

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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