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2011 City Guide: Volunteering

With so many worthy volunteer-driven organizations in Buffalo, it’s not easy to stand out. HandsOn Greater Buffalo (HOGB) has found a way. The WNY AmeriCorps initiative was launched in 2006 with a clear goal: connecting engaged citizens with local opportunities to contribute their time and talent. There’s been a real diversity in their projects—from April’s “Art for Earth Day” and a Gallagher Beach clean-up to their partnership in July’s echo: Art Fair. Doug Wasiura, HandsOn’s development director, says “providing a single source for concerned citizens to seek and find opportunities that interest them and satisfy their particular skill sets more effectively maximizes the impact of volunteerism in the region.”

He says it’s imperative to find opportunities that match one’s passions, and to seek to involve family, kids, friends, co-workers. But most important, he believes, is the spirit of collaboration. “In order for Buffalo to become a strong, dynamic, vibrant city again, we all need to work together, with no ego, no pride, just a strong feeling that we want to make a difference in the community,” he says. “That’s the way Buffalo will be the ‘win’ story. And HandsOn Greater Buffalo would love to lead the charge.”

On the weekend of June 10 to 12, Hands is partnering with Buffalo B team and Surface Solutions to renovate Ontario Street United Methodist Church. The Riverside church will now be home to a wheelchair ramp, and Wasiura says its kitchen, dining, and gym areas will also be overhauled. “They can use this to hold community dinners and host plays, community theater, and classes. For us, it’s about helping to give life to a property that, without the work of their pastor and amazing church membership, could have been another boarded-up building. We’re very excited to be a part of a rebirth in that neighborhood.”

A new website is planned that will make it even easier for interested folk to figure out the volunteer option that’s best for them. “My goal is to grow HandsOn Greater Buffalo into a premier volunteer organization,” Wasiura says. “I truly believe that we can provide something that is unique to Buffalo—a one-stop shop for volunteers providing a wide range of opportunities all over Buffalo, making it as easy as possible for them to give of their time.”

For more information, call 574-2728, write to dwasiura@handsongreaterbuffalo.org, or visit www.handsongreaterbuffalo.org.

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