The Pine Street event center was packed with CWU students, community members, and more than 25 local organizations and non-profit groups for the Ellensburg City Center Association volunteer exhibition on March 2.
There are all kinds of volunteer opportunities, such as community events, working in the arts and working in nature.
Kittitas County Women’s Voters’ League
The League of Women Voters (LWV), a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, was represented by Program Director Tish Eaton and volunteer Susan Kelleher.
“Our mission is to encourage informed and active citizen participation in government and influencing public policy through education,” said Kelleher.
The league prepares presentations on current topics that will influence voting constituencies in the area.
“We go to school and educate kids about how to vote and why it matters,” says Eaton. “We do PowerPoint presentations in public high schools and we have a once-a-month program that deals with current issues.”
Some of the most recent program topics and presentations include Planned Parenthood, electoral integrity, regional commissioners and environmental issues.
“We go to county commission meetings, city council meetings and we just observe and take notes on what’s going on,” Eaton said. “Our newspapers don’t always cover it, we’re sort of watchdogs..
LWV is always looking for volunteers to help with things like registering people to vote at CWU and the many events the league holds.
Kelleher says anyone can sign up to volunteer on their website, kittitasleague.organd that they are looking for new members and board members.
Jon Morrow, co-director of the Ellensburg rodeo, says they always need volunteers to help run the rodeo.
“From 650 [Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association]rodeos worldwide, Canada and the United States, Ellensburg is ranked number four,” said Morrow.
Volunteers can assist in a variety of ways, such as serving as ticket scanners or ushers, assisting with set-up and unpacking, driving golf carts, and assisting with parking.
It’s the 100th anniversary of the Ellensburg rodeo this year and tickets are nearly sold out, according to Morrow. The rodeo event runs from August 30 to September 4.
The Helen House is a safe space that represents youth and young adult sexuality, orientation, gender, identity and expression (SOGIE). The house is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3 – 6pm to stop by.
Amanda Russert, assistant director, said, “we want to get more volunteers; that way, we can look at other programming things in the future that we can start doing.”
FISH Food Bank
The Friends in Service to Humanity (FISH) food bank also has a table at the volunteer fair, featuring many opportunities for local residents and CWU students to help out.
Elise Warren, FISH volunteer coordinator and executive assistant, said FISH has a food pantry and open table dining service. They also do Meals on Wheels, which provides nutrition and medically adapted meals for seniors.
Volunteers can work the warehouse and stock racks, work in the pantry and help guests select groceries, or work with Meals on Wheels driving and delivering food to seniors.
Prospective volunteers can email [email protected] for more information.
Valley Music Theatre
Jessica Black, executive director of Valley Musical Theater (VMT), says they have lots of opportunities for students to get involved.
“It takes a village to put on a show,” says Black. “Everything from not only on stage, but backstage. So, everything from costume or set design, lighting operations, and props.”
Theater experience and knowledge is not required to register, as Black made it clear that community theater is for everyone.
“A lot of times we do pre-training, so if someone is new to theater and they want to get involved, that’s community theater, to start introducing theater to people and giving them an easy way. to find a creative outlet,” said Black.
VMT puts on three to four shows annually, Black said the upcoming summer show “9 to 5 the Musical” could appeal to CWU students. More information is on their website www.valleymusicaltheater.com.
Mid-Columbia Fisheries Improvement Group
The Mid-Columbia Fisheries Improvement Group provides volunteer opportunities for those who love to be in nature.
Aaron Balagot, restoration technician, supervisor and volunteer coordinator, said the organization is a non-profit dedicated to salmon restoration.
“We’re working around the Columbia and Yakima rivers and all the tributaries that connect to them, and it’s all for salmon increase,” Balagot said.
The organization has established several large-scale plantings and large timber installations in the river to create river habitat for the salmon.
Volunteers help with site maintenance as well as events throughout the year.
“Starting in spring, we do a lot of preparations such as mulching, picking up trash and removing tarpaulin from the planting site, said Balagot. “Then, as we move on to summer, more watering and weeding, and then in the fall, we plant.”
Balagot said he hires a seasonal crew every year and being involved with Mid-Columbia Fisheries would also be a good experience for students interested in environmental science.
“We have a pint at the Iron Horse brewery on March 30th, and we are always looking for more volunteers,” said Balagot.
Marcus Ashton, a CWU senior geology major, goes to a volunteer fair with his roommates and friends from church.
“We’re all just putting our bits out there with the opportunity to volunteer,” Ashton said.
He said his favorite desk at the fair was Mid-Columbia Fisheries.
“I just got into a position with them, so seeing them here is pretty cool,” said Ashton.
Jerry Pettit, a retired county auditor and volunteer firefighter in the community, hopes the Ellensburg community will find more volunteers.
Pettit has been a volunteer firefighter for over 30 years, and he and his wife have been helping the community in various ways for more than 40 years.
“We always need volunteers in the community, that’s something I believe in,” said Pettit. “I have been volunteering for many things for a long time. It’s so important to our community, to give back. That’s what makes the community what it is.”