A second chance for some comes in volunteering

By Dawn M. Aerts

Iron County Today

CEDAR CITY–Do you need your church grounds spruced up, help with an annual fundraiser, or someone to assist with a clean-up at your organization?

Cindy Rose, coordinator, Community Action Program (CAP), Five County Association is looking for a match with local non-profits, agencies, or neighborhood churches who could use some help and are willing to give a volunteer with the Court-Ordered Community Service Program (COCS) a second-chance opportunity.

Rose, a native of Southern California, wears many hats in her Iron County role – working with Youth Volunteer Services, Youth Court volunteers, and AmeriCorp, as well as with local homeless programs. You might say she is always looking into the needs of the community and to grow volunteerism year-round.

“We probably have 50 or so adults (with minor offenses) that would like to serve the community in a volunteer role,” said Rose of the program, “Each of these have expressed their interest in volunteering – And those that do, often come away feeling good about their experience.”

According to Rose, COCS volunteers benefit when organizations give them the opportunity to be part of something constructive and worthwhile. “I think most volunteers find that they get something out of the experience. So, it becomes a personal investment of their time and helps them look at things differently,” she said.

Rose explained that non-profit agencies or churches can specify their needs, set the schedule, and also the criteria they are looking for in a short-term volunteer. “Sometimes that may be a person who doesn’t smoke, or someone who has had a pretty minor offense on their record,” Rose said. “So the guidelines can be set by the host-organization.”

The COCS program has successfully matched adult (COCS) volunteers with agencies like the Cedar City Parks and Recreation Office, Iron County Care and Share Foodbank, as well as with a number of animal rescue groups and shelters.

“I’ve had some volunteers want to help with a specific project at their local church, or for a particular group,” Rose said of her work. “So I think this program is really about giving people in the community a ‘second chance’ so maybe they’ve made a mistake, but this is something that benefits the person, the organization and our community too.”

Hard-to-fill volunteer jobs like walking homeless pets at the shelter or even cleaning up a park, a playground, or a tourist location are options that often go unfilled and are much needed efforts for a community.

“This is a way for a wide range of agencies, (churches) and non-profits to make a difference in the life of a person who steps forward to volunteer here. Some of the projects may require a few hours a week, or maybe a few hours a month, but it’s a great option for any group that needs a volunteer connection,” she said.

While most (COCS) adults are committed to volunteer an average of 50 hours total – Rose points out that some choose to continue their volunteer work, or to consider volunteering as part of their lifestyle. “We are looking for more groups and organizations to participate, and to find (COCS) adult volunteers a positive match.” For information, or to participate, call Rose at 435.867.8384.



Caption: Cindy Rose, coordinator for Court-Ordered Community Service (COCS).

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