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Joyce Endee

Job Fair connects organizations with volunteers


September 23, 2021
GILFORD — Organizations and potential volunteers had the opportunity to meet in one place thanks to the first Belknap County Volunteer Job Fair at Gunstock.

Representatives from several different organizations around the region with focuses on conservation and food security set up tables in the main lodge on Sunday afternoon from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and spoke with potential volunteers.

This was the first fair held by the Belknap County Conservation District (BCCD). Donna Hepp, chair of the BCCD's Volunteer Board, said this was a way to bring many different organizations with a similar focus together with volunteers

"While we all wear different hats, one of the things we're all focused on is volunteers," Hepp said.

The BCCD received a grant from Volunteer New Hampshire to create a part time volunteer coordinator position, which Hepp said not only helps the commission but also helps any other organization in Belknap County focused on conservation and food assistance. The position will create tools and opportunities for connecting volunteers with organizations.

The fair was meant to be a form of outreach to connect organizations with potential volunteers.

"Volunteerism in Belknap County is alive and well, but it's hard to find where those opportunities are," Hepp said.

The event also included a volunteer appreciation event where around 80 volunteers from around the county were recognized for their work.

There were also outdoor demonstrations where potential volunteers saw the work they could be doing in trailblazing, stream restoration, nature trail maintenance, and other resources that can all be found at Gunstock. Hepp said Gunstock is a significant resource for Belknap County and they have a great partnership with them.

The BCCD's Web site will also have a one stop location for resources and tools for volunteers and organizations. Visit belknapccd.org for more details.

NH Lakes was looking for volunteers, especially people to serve as Lake Hosts. Lake Hosts will stay at different docks and landings, meet with boaters, and inspect vehicles for any potential invasive plant species. Lake Hosts will check trailers, boats, trucks, and any other vehicle or piece of equipment going in the water and can find plants in hidden places such as wheel wells.

Kat Kelleher, Conservation Program Assistant with NH Lakes, said quite a few people came up to the table and asked about NH Lakes.

"We had a lot of people who were interested in getting involved with the program," Kelleher said.

She also said there were many people interested in seeing if Lake Hosts could be posted at different waterbodies that didn't have them yet.

Grafton County Master Gardeners, a program of the UNH Cooperative Extension, were also at the fair. Master gardener Bonnie Miller said the group is looking for master gardeners to help with many different community projects across the state. In Grafton County, master gardeners helped plant flower beds around solar panel projects in Plymouth and Bethlehem, worked in a community garden in Littleton, and many other tasks.

Miller said this is an opportunity for people with different interests in gardening and agriculture including plants, bees, chicks, and others. Every county in the state except for Strafford County has a master gardener program. Potential master gardeners can take an eight-to-12-week course through the Cooperative Extension and learn many different skills. Miller herself has been a master gardener since 2005.

"I had quite a few people that stopped in, some of them have taken some of the flyers," Miller said.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) was looking for volunteers. Volunteers with the organization will act as officers of the court and check in on children in the foster care system and who have been victims of abuse.

Volunteer Amy Kivimaki said CASA was asked to come to the fair because they are on the frontlines of addressing food insecurity.

"The fair has been wonderful for us, very, very worthwhile," Kivimaki said.

Her and fellow volunteer Tom Goulette spoke with many people about the program and around six people had signed up by 12:30 p.m.

"It's perfect, I was surprised," Kivimaki said. "Tom and I thought we'd be sitting here talking to each other for two hours, (but) it's been nonstop."

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