It's that time of year again, surprisingly soon and utterly relentless. Some may have been planning for, even rejoicing in, this impending eve, while others procrastinated, stealing one more day of guiltless debauchery. But the zero hour has arrived; it's time to decide some definites for the next 365 days.
Why not resolve to break away from the old, tired resolutions that are soon forgotten? This year, resolve to do something that makes a difference. Instead of committing and failing (for the fourth year running) to exercise off those pounds in a gym, commit time to a disabled or abused child. Instead of starving yourself on a new diet, opt to deliver food to the needy. Your time is more precious than money, so save some time to give a helping hand.
Central Florida is home to scores of nonprofits that need your help. The following list is just a sample. So while you're still full of punch and vigor, resolve to do something good for yourself by doing good for others. It's good for your soul -- and nonfattening as well.
AIDS Resource Alliance provides case management for clients with AIDS, supplying multiple services including dental, medical, counseling and clothing. Volunteers act as one-on-one buddies and phone friends, provide transportation, assist with office help and health fairs, work on special events and in care teams that clean a client's homes. Contact: Sharon Raddock; 701 E. South St., Orlando 32801; (407) 894-2233.
CENTAUR, or Central Florida Aids Unified Resources Inc. provides support and assistance to those affected by HIV/AIDS. Volunteer services include: providing general information and referrals, working as a 24-hour crisis hotline operator, helping with distribution and donation of food and clothing, lending a hand with outreach education events and seminars, and being a "Buddy Support" care team member. Contact: Sue Cirelli; 741 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando 32804; (407) 849-1452.
Hope and Help Center of Central Florida is a resource agency for persons with HIV/AIDS. Volunteer opportunities include providing transportation and friendship for clients and office work. Contact: Laurie Torres; 1935 Woodcrest Drive, Winter Park 32792; (407) 645-2577.
Joy MCC AIDS Ministry extends a helping hand to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. The church uses volunteers for general office, painting, cleaning, yard work, food bank help, AIDS outreach/coordination, and Internet, mail and newsletter design and/or production assistance. Contact: Rev. Paul Anway; 2351 S. Ferncreek Ave., Orlando 32806; (407) 894-1081.
Serenity House Pediatric AIDS Foundation seeks volunteers to assist with programs aiding children and their families affected by AIDS. Opportunities include assistance as office receptionists and delivery drivers, fundraising personnel, and participation in the Holiday Angel Committee. Contact: Kara Montanarella; 2500 Curry Ford Road., Orlando 32806; (407) 894-2437.
Canine Companions for Independence strives to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by providing trained assistance dogs and ongoing support. Volunteers provide foster homes to raise a puppy for up to 14 months or assist the staff with various tasks in one of five regional centers. Contact: Cherie Biederman; PO Box 547511, Orlando 32854; (407) 834-2555.
Orlando Humane Society seeks volunteers to love and care for animals. Opportunities include: administrative assistance, animal exercise escorts, bathers, greeters, thrift shop assistance and foster care staff. Contact: Stacie Depew; 2727 Americana Blvd., Orlando 32839; (407) 351-7722.
Arts & education
Civic Theatres of Central Florida puts volunteers to work greeting patrons, ushering in its three theaters, working concessions, assisting with fund-raising and working backstage or to assist the education department. Contact: Pam O'Bannon; 1001 E. Princeton St., Orlando 32803; (407) 896-7365.
Friends of the Orange County Library System run a recycled book store and support special projects. Volunteers help run the cash register, assist customers, stock shelves and sort books. Contact: Laura Murru; Orlando Public Library, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando 32801; (407) 425-4694.
Maitland Art Center offers art classes, provides tours of the historic grounds and galleries and hosts annual events. Volunteers assist with groundskeeping, library operations, mailings, office work, tours and events. Contact: Rita Krossber; 231 W. Packwood Ave., Maitland 32751; (407) 539-2181.
Maitland Historical Society collects, preserves and exhibits artifacts pertaining to the Maitland area. Volunteers assist with educational programs, act as museum guides, provide clerical and curatorial assistance and help with fundraising. Contact: Jenn Beam; P.O. Box 941001, Maitland 32794; (407) 644-2451; email@example.com.
American Red Cross of Central Florida uses volunteers to make daily calls to elderly shut-ins, serve as daytime delivery drivers, act as disaster-relief volunteers in emergencies and teach CPR, first aid, water safety and HIV/AIDS classes during days and evenings. Contact: Quisa Foster; 5 N. Bumby Ave., Orlando 32803; (407) 894-4141.
Central Florida Helpline is a free, confidential call-in service for anyone who has a problem, needs to talk, or would like someone to pray with. Volunteers must complete a 13-week training program. Contact: Phyllis Oas; P.O. Box 941524, Maitland 32794; (407) 740-7408.
Restore Orlando provides a once-a-month emergency food boxes, after-school tutoring, evening meals for children, a thrift store and home-buying application assistance for needy families. Contact: Anne Jedraszczk; 1030 W. Kaley Ave., Orlando 32856; (407) 246-0061; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Salvation Army seeks help with their ongoing efforts to provide food, clothing and household items to the community. Volunteers can serve as data-entry clerks, sorting assistants, clerical assistants and mailing assistants. Contact: Lisette Guillen; 440 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando 32804; (407) 423-8581, Ext. 215.
We Care Crisis Center's 24-hour crisis line and teen hotline offer confidential support and referrals. Counselors undergo a 60-hour training period before answering the phones and must commit to one year's service of four hours a week. Contact: Sara Hintzmann; 112 Pasadena Place, Orlando 32803; (407) 425-5201
Alzheimer's Association provides a telephone hotline for information and referral to those affected by the disease. The group also organizes a speaker's bureau, newsletter, lending library and various educational and training programs. Volunteers help with clerical duties, data entry and special events. Contact: Ann Dumont; 2010 Mizell Ave., Winter Park 32792; (407) 629-1997.
Alzheimer's Resource Center strives to lighten the burden and improve the quality of life for families affected by Alzheimer's. Volunteers help with mailings, assist with the annual conference and help with health fairs. Contact: Linda Caskey; 69 W. Underwood St., Orlando 32856; (407) 843-1910.
Alzheimer's Respite Care Program provides assistance to people afflicted with memory loss and their caregivers. Volunteers work under staff supervision as activity assistants and companions at six day-care locations in Central Florida as well as in-home. Contact: Marlene Farber; 808 W. Central Blvd., Orlando 32805; (407) 423-5311.
Best Buddies pairs people with mentally retarded individuals in one-to-one, long-term friendships nurtured through weekly and monthly contact. Regular group outings are provided at no cost. Volunteer also can choose to be a "buddy" for special assignments. Contact: Jennifer Serena; 550 N. Bumby Ave., Suite 235, Orlando 32803; (407) 898-0787.
Center for Independent Living helps those with disabilities by providing daily living skills training, peer support, job search assistance and social activities. Volunteer opportunities include office work, fund-raising events, and assistance as outreach workers. Individuals proficient in sign language are also needed. Contact: Ginger Malcom; 720 N. Denning Drive, Winter Park 32789; (407) 623-1390.
Mental Health Association of Central Florida provides information and referrals. Volunteers help with phones and clerical work. Contact: Bob Decker; 608 Mariposa St., Orlando 32801; (407) 843-1563.
Community Care for the Elderly assists those who need help but choose to remain in their own homes. Volunteers assist with shopping, cooking, transportation, respite and/or emotional support. Contact: Carolyn Campbell; 600 Courtland St., Suite 200, Orlando 32804; (407) 628-2884.
RSVP, or Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, places those ages 55 and older into volunteer positions throughout Orange County, mostly with agencies whose focus is education, public safety and the environment. The SWATT team (Seniors With Available Time & Talent) perform in a band, vocal group, and dance troupe to entertain at health-care facilities, schools and events. Contact: Terri Miller; 99 E. Marks St., Suite 102, Orlando 32803; (407) 422-1535; email@example.com.
Seniors First/Meals on Wheels helps senior citizens maintain their independence through nutrition, home improvement and support services. Daily and weekly food deliveries, adult day care, financial counseling and guardianship require year-round volunteer support. Contact: Katherine Zimmerman; 5395 L.B. McLeod Road, Orlando 32811; (407) 292-0177, Ext. 240.
Coastal Conservation Association Florida is dedicated to conserving and protecting Florida's marine resources through education and advocacy. Volunteers assist with administration services including mailings, data entry and filing. Contact: Chris Covert; 1890 Semoran Blvd., Suite 355, Winter Park 32792; (407) 672-2058.
Community Service Center offers social services to families in south Orange County including financial assistance, food, clothing, and eyecare. Volunteers aid with tasks from answering phones and filing to food shopping and yard work. Contact: Geraldine Buchin; 621 Wilks Ave., Orlando 32809; (407) 851-5920.
Esteem provides family programs that focus on academics, sports, the arts, employment skills training and volunteerism. The organization works with community groups to help them hire and train neighborhood residents to implement, administer and fund their own social programs. Volunteers engage in public relations, fundraising, human resources, computer operation, special event planning and academic tutoring. Contact: Jan Sobotik; 718 Margaret Square, Winter Park 32789; (407) 645-1193.
Justice and Peace Office sponsors various programs including Single Mothers in a Learning Environment, Partners in Ground Level Justice, GROWS Literary Council, and the Central Florida Religion & Labor Coalition. All of these programs work with volunteers in their attempt to foster self-help and education for low-income families in an effort to teach them skills to improve their standard of living and quality of life. Contact:Teresa McElwee; 52 E. Main St., Apopka 32703; (407) 889-0100.
Metropolitan Orlando Urban League provides a host of community services with a focus currently on youth. Programs offer counseling, self-esteem enhancement, drug awareness and coping strategies for peer pressure. Volunteers act as mentors and serve on the task force for all programs. Contact: Ronita Sanders; 2512 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando 32804; (407) 841-7654, Ext. 317.
Food & necessities
Goodwill Industries of Central Florida needs volunteers to help sort and process donated goods at any of their retail stores, which sell donated clothing and other household items to fund employment and training programs. Contact: Andrea Ross-Duggan; 6400 S. Orange Ave., Orlando 32809; (407) 857-0659.
Second Harvest Food Bank collects and stores donated food for nonprofit agencies that feed the ill, needy and children. Volunteer options include food drive transportation, food drive sponsors, salvage sorters and office assistance. Contact: Gina Cawley; 2008 Brengle Ave., Orlando 32808; (407) 295-1066.
Health & medicine
American Cancer Society aims to save lives and diminish suffering caused by the disease through research, education, advocacy and a comprehensive patient services program. Volunteers help with office work, events and mailings. Contact: Alice Allington; 1601 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando 32804; (407) 843-8680.
Central Florida Blood Bank provides blood-products to more than 40 health-care facilities and operates other services such as a tissue bank, donor programs and educational programs. Volunteer activities include lab assistance, clerical duties, telephone recruitment, data entry and maintenance work. Contact: Shirley Burke; 32 W. Gore St., Orlando 32806; (407) 849-6100, Ext. 8507.
Health Care Center for the Homeless provides free medical, eye and dental care, and seeks volunteer support from primary care physicians, dentists, optometrists, ophthalmologists, nurses and mental health counselors. Contact: Suzanne Lander; 11 N. Parramore Ave., Orlando 32801; (407) 428-5751.
Leukemia Society of America's local chapter provides family support groups, aid for treatment-related expenses, advocacy, information and education for patients, their families and the public. Volunteers provide in-office clerical help and data entry. Contact: Deborah Baily; 3101 Maguire Blvd., Suite 225, Orlando 32803; (407) 898-0733.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Mid-Florida chapter offers support to more than 30,000 people in 23 counties affected by MS with programs that include: education, counseling, literature, emergency respite funding and self-help groups. Volunteers assist with all. Contact: Gina Casto; 3659 Maguire Blvd., Suite 110, Orlando 32803; (407) 896-3873.
Prevent Blindness Florida screens for eye problems and prevention of blindness. The organization trains and certifies volunteers to screen both adults and children. Contact: Doris Dickson; 3825 Henderson Blvd., Suite 402, Tampa 33629; (813) 874-2020.
United Cerebral Palsy provides therapeutic and education support, as well as early prevention services and occupational, physical and speech therapy for those up to age 21 in Orlando, Sanford and Kissimmee. Volunteers who assist teachers and aides with classroom activities, feeding and playtime must attend a brief orientation. General office and maintenance assistance opportunities also are available. Contact: volunteer coordinator; 930 S. Orange Ave., Orlando 32806; (407) 841-7491.
Housing & homelessness
Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida offers shelter, food, housing options, education, advocacy and support services focused on returning homeless individuals and families to self-sufficiency. Volunteers provide general and tutorial assistance to all programs. Contact: Roberta Bloom; 639 W. Central Blvd., Orlando 32801; (407) 426-1250.
Habitat for Humanity has built 63 homes for families in need since 1987, with four more currently under construction in Orlando, and seeks construction volunteers for weekdays and Saturdays. Volunteers also assist with general office help. Contact: Diane Yost; 808 W. Central Blvd., Orlando 32805; (407) 648-4567.
Orlando Union Rescue Mission provides shelter for homeless families and meals for the hungry. Volunteers assist in the day-care center, tutor both adults and children in the Career Learning Center, cook and serve three meals a day in the cafeteria, and cut hair in the beauty shop. Contact: Ladonne Carpenter; P.O. Box 2791, Orlando 32802-2791; (407) 422-4855; firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Center for Women offers free pregnancy tests, confidential care, education about pregnancy, fetal development and abortion, adoption assistance, referrals for medical care, shelter, clothing and baby supplies. Volunteers provide one-on-one education and counseling support and help with special events. Contact Katie Boomer or Sharon Phillips; 315 N. Wymore Road, Winter Park 32789; (407) 629-5437.
Harbor House is a center against domestic violence funded in part by the city of Orlando and Orange County, and which provides temporary shelter, counseling and support for persons vulnerable in an abusive environment. Volunteers assist with a variety of programs including a 24-hour crisis line, referrals, community education, children's services and teen-dating violence prevention programs. Contact Linnette Padron; P.O. Box 680748, Orlando 32868; (407) 886-2244.
Living Hope International Ministry's New Beginnings Home Treatment Program assists women 18 years and older by providing a homelike, secure environment to help them recover from chemical dependency, abuse and a dysfunctional lifestyle. Volunteers assist with clerical work, cold calling, telephones, fund-raising and transporting residents. Contact: Robin Jenkins; P.O. Box 560403, Orlando 32856; (407) 422-6797.
Boys & Girls Club develops character and leadership in youth while providing education and career development, health and life skills, sports, fitness, recreation and exposure to the arts. Volunteers help with all programs at any one of 13 Central Florida branch locations. Contact: Melanie Veliz; 801 N. Magnolia Ave. Suite 305, Orlando 32802; (407) 841-6855.
Charlee Family Care Services of Central Florida provides foster care and shelter for abused or neglected children. Volunteer clerical help is needed Monday through Friday. Contact: Mary Wilffert; 11875 High Tech Ave., Suite 200, Orlando; (407) 273-8444.
Children's Home Society seeks TeenPal Volunteers to provide emotional support, weekly contact, transportation to scheduled meetings, and attendance of monthly group outings for four to six hours per week. Contact: Renee Bleecker; 2647 Michigan Ave., Kissimmee 34744; (407) 846-5220.
Citizen Volunteer Program organizes volunteers for a variety of programs sponsored by the city. Needs include storytelling assistants to listen to and tutor youths in reading; park rangers at Lake Eola; computer lab tutors, and a Neon Dance Club host to coordinate events and concessions for physically and mentally challenged adults. Contact: Sarah Butler; 400 S. Orange Ave., Orlando 32801; (407) 246-3309.
Covenant House Florida provides a service center for homeless and runaway youths under 21 years old offering meals, clothing, and use of telephones and laundry facilities. Counseling, family reunification, life skills and self-esteem sessions, GED classes and employment assistance also are provided. Volunteers help with food service and shopping, recreation, arts and crafts, sorting clothing and reception. Contact: Pat Grant; 888 N. Orange Ave., Orlando 32801; (407) 426-7888.
Dividends School Volunteer Program is a school-based program in Seminole County Public Schools that promotes community involvement. Volunteers can teach conversational Spanish to students, speak about careers, travel, hobbies, and act as mentors. Contact: Jane Lane; 400 E. Lake Mary Blvd., Sanford 32773; (407) 320-0178.
Junior Achievement volunteers work with teachers in grades K-12 to serve as role models and help students grasp economic fundamentals and career opportunities, encouraging them to develop skills for success through games and activities. Classroom training and materials are provided. Contact: Kim Gwin; 2121 Camden Road, Orlando 32803; (407) 896-2237.
Make-a-Wish Foundation fulfills the special wish of children with life-threatening illnesses. Volunteers assist with wish fulfillment, special events, fund-raising, airport greeting and office assistance. Contact: Sheryl Mays; 880 N. Orange Ave., Suite 200, Orlando 32801; (407) 246-1974.
New Hope Center offers comprehensive services for grief and loss including the Children's Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, and Grieving Children Services, which provides support for children grieving the loss of a loved one. New Hope trains volunteers to support programs, operate its Thrift & Gift shops, assist with fund-raising and promote community awareness. Contact: Rosie Wilder or Yolande Fiola; 100 E. Sybelia Ave., Suite 300, Maitland 32751; (407) 629-8920: email@example.com.
Osceola County Children's Home is a residential facility for youths who are part of Florida's foster care system due to neglect, abandonment and/or abuse. Volunteers interact with children and assist with emotional and educational needs. Contact: Paula Cogswell; 2534 Neptune Road, Kissimmee 34744; (407) 847-6048.
Pace Center for Girls works to improve the quality of life for at-risk girls by helping them further their education, build self-esteem, and develop personal, social and family relationship skills. Volunteer opportunities include career coach mentors, office assistance, arts and crafts instruction, intern coordinators, transportation, study buddies and general topic speakers. Contact: volunteer coordinator; 33 W. Washington St., Orlando 32801; (407) 843-1775.
Heart of Florida United Way provides volunteer information and referral services, mentoring programs and agency training programs. Contact: Debbie Episcopo; P.O. Box 140636, Orlando 32814; (407) 897-6677.