Upper Arlington News

Annual Volunteer

UA Expo aims to make connections

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Call it a matchmaking event.

The sixth annual Volunteer UA Expo that aims to link local civic groups and nonprofit organizations with people who want to volunteer their time is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 17 at Upper Arlington Public Library's main branch, 2800 Tremont Road.

The event is free and open to people of all ages.

Last year's event featured exhibit tables for about 30 civic groups and nonprofit organizations that serve Upper Arlington.

"It's to raise awareness of local opportunities and to help people and nonprofits find good matches," said Beth Sharb, community affairs coordinator for the city of Upper Arlington. "Some volunteers want to help at a one-time event, others want to be involved on an ongoing basis, some like physical activity, others enjoy interaction with people, etc.

"The expo provides a great forum to find out what's involved and if a certain project (or) entity is a good match."

The Volunteer UA Expo is put on through a collaboration among the Upper Arlington Commission on Aging, the city of Upper Arlington, Upper Arlington Public Library, the TriVillage Mentoring League, Leadership UA and Syntero Inc./Northwest Counseling Services.

Each of the founding organizations will set up an exhibition table at the event, as will a multitude of other local civic and nonprofit groups.

Currently, organizers are soliciting more participation from other community and nonprofit groups. Information is available from Amy Schossler at the UA Commission on Aging at 614-583-5326.

Sharb said the Volunteer UA Expo was developed following an Upper Arlington state of the city address when several participants in the city's annual community fair sought strategies for increasing awareness about local volunteer opportunities.

"Any time we can work with those who are invested in UA as much as we are, we want to do it," she said. "Amazing residents are what keeps UA strong, and if we can push some of those great residents towards volunteering, even better.

"So many organizations rely on volunteers to go above and beyond the call of duty. This program has resulted in some great volunteer-organization matches that otherwise might not have happened."

In addition to information about volunteer opportunities, this year's Volunteer UA Expo will include a presentation called "The Accidental Volunteer" by Shirley Brooks-Jones, a Dublin resident who was traveling by airplane at the time of the terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001.

According to Sharb, Brooks-Jones' plane was diverted to Lewisporte, Newfoundland, as a result of the attacks. She and roughly 800 fellow passengers were forced to seek refuge and assistance in Newfoundland for three days before the plane could return to the U.S.

As a result, Sharb said, Brooks-Jones was inspired to seek opportunities to give back through volunteering and community activism, and she's since helped generate nearly $1.5 million through a Columbus Foundation scholarship fund.

"After her extraordinary experience during the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, Brooks-Jones chose to pay it forward by joining the Tri-Village Lions," Sharb said. "As one of the partners of the Volunteer UA Expo, Ms. Brooks-Jones seemed to be a natural fit."

Additional information about this year's Volunteer UA Expo is available at Upper Arlington's website, uaoh.net.

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