Like April flowers that push through late snow, volunteers persist to spread joy and aid in our community. They set aside time and personal challenges to lift others—visiting an older person, mentoring a child, brightening our parks, and more. Licking County Foundation salutes all volunteers this month, including those providing comfort and safety to others in our community.
The all-volunteer Licking County Emergency Warming Center Task Force formed in 2018 and set up a fund in 2019 at the Licking County Foundation with generous community donations. The fund helps cover costs of running the centers, which open when overnight temperatures fall below 15 degrees. In 2022, 15 nights met this threshold. Without volunteers, this shelter would not be possible.
In addition to comfort, conversation, and a safe, clean sleeping space, volunteers offer hot meals, sort and distribute winter clothes, and conduct COVID–19 symptom checks and other cold weather injury screening. They wash bedding and sanitize cots and rooms graciously provided by host sites—in 2022, Trinity Lutheran Church and The Disciple Factory. Volunteer drivers from Vertical 196 and Newark Church of the Nazarene handled transportation with help from Licking County Transit Service. Licking Memorial Hospital prepared warm food for all. Thanks to broad collaboration, 150 beds were offered to people who chose to come in from the harsh weather.
Volunteering changes our community and changes us, too.
“Everyone deserves a warm, safe place to sleep at night," one volunteer said. "I wanted to be part of making that a reality. It opened my eyes to some of the unique challenges people face when they are without reliable shelter. I encourage everyone who is able to participate in activities like this that give back to the community. In the long run, it's such a small investment of your time that has potential to positively impact the lives of others.”