Wood Lane seeks more volunteers

Kristen Tomins and Kristen Tomins

Wood Lane Residential Services is seeking volunteers to spend time and partake in activities with its residents and participating families.

WLRS provides residential services to people with developmental disabilities throughout Wood County. Some services include 24-hour on-site support and drop-in services to families or individuals living in a group home or apartment.

There are many different ways students can get involved, said Linda Brownell, WLRS program coordinator.

Brownell said many students from the University volunteer in groups and do a one-day community service, or some do a semester-long service.

“We get many groups but not nearly enough individuals,” she said.

Individual volunteers are matched with a resident based on shared interests to ensure both parties have a genuinely enjoyable experience, Brownell said.

Volunteers can do a variety of activities with residents, such as reading to or with them, going on walks downtown, watching sporting events, or spending time with them to talk and get to know one another.

Brownell said their individuals and families are unique from one another. She said this year they are seeking a volunteer who can speak and understand Chinese to accommodate one of their Chinese-speaking individuals.

“Finding someone with a similar cultural background brings familiarity to that individual,” she said.

Relating to the individuals and giving back to the community are just some of the rewarding aspects that come with volunteering, said senior Phil Martin.

Some of the activities Martin and his assigned individual do together are playing Wii bowling and golf and watching TV shows like The Walking Dead.

Martin said one of his favorite memories from volunteering for WLRS was when one of the individuals he frequently visits brought him back a necklace from their trip to Florida.

“It serves as a reminder for why I volunteer,” Martin said. “People need help and support, just like I did when I have struggled through rough times.”

Martin began volunteering January of this year and looks forward to applying for a full-time position upon his graduation this May.

Volunteering at WLRS can also help students discover what career path is the best fit for them, said Cindy Minnick, WLRS residential coordinator.

“We have a broad range of individuals, so students that are thinking about going into education, social work or geriatrics may be able to solidify their decision by volunteering here and working with the families,” Minnick said.

Aside from volunteering directly with the families or individuals, Brownell said there are plenty of other opportunities to get involved. WLRS also offers internships based on certain needs, such as technical needs with the use of iPads and the organization’s website. Other areas of potential internships include public relations and communication and health services.

Because WLRS is a non-profit organization, Brownell said students can also volunteer at their fundraising events. WLRS is planning a 5K event in July, which students can participate in, donate to, or help coordinate the event altogether. Applications to volunteer are available to download on the organization’s website.