Around 70 people stopped out to check out volunteer opportunities available in this area Tuesday during the second annual volunteer fair at Crystal Brook in Park Rapids.

Connie Carmichael is the event coordinator.

“It was a dream that I had to develop an event where members of the community could come in and see what’s available,” she said. “There are a lot of new people moving to town who want to volunteer but don’t know what’s out there.”

She said the volunteer fair is also a great opportunity for area non-profit organizations to showcase the resources they have to offer.

The majority of the people stopping by the fair were retirees. “A lot of them are already volunteering in the community, but they may be looking for other opportunities,” she said. “I heard comments today from someone who lives here and sees the Let’s Go Fishing pontoon out on the lake, but had no idea what the organization was doing. Now they do. Word of mouth is huge, and positive interaction is even better.”

Agencies participating in this year’s volunteer fair included senior nutrition, Park Rapids Lions, Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations, Lutheran Social Services, Park Rapids Library, Pregnancy Resource Center, ACTION Park Rapids, Volunteer Heartland Lakes, Support Within Reach, Let's Go Fishing, Hospice of the Red River Valley, Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area, Senior Linkage Line, MAHUBE-OTWA, Headwaters Adult Day Services, May Creek of Walker and Kinship.

“There were four or five new ones who weren’t here last year,” Carmichael said. “We’re hoping to do it again next year and get even more people to come. When you have collaboration for these kind of events it makes it even more successful.”

Living at Homes sponsors the fair, along with CHI St. Joseph’s Health.

“Part of Living at Home’s vision is to connect seniors with opportunities in the community, so we put it in our budget and get some grant funding to have these kinds of events,” Carmichael said. “When some people hear the word volunteer, they might think they can’t do that because they don’t drive anymore or do as much as they used to. But there are so many opportunities. If they can’t drive, maybe they can connect with a volunteer who gives rides.”

Anyone who missed the fair can see what is available locally by going to the Volunteer Heartland Lakes website or calling Carmichael at 732-3137.

The Volunteer Heartland Lakes website is affiliated with ACTION Park Rapids, an initiative designed to make volunteering easier. They may be reached at Organizations that want to be included on their website pay a $30 annual fee to list volunteer needs and events.

“When a volunteer signs up, if there is a need that matches what they have chosen, they will get an email about that event,” Carmichael said.