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Summer Splash: Ventura County / Family | FOR THE KIDS

Time Well Spent

County volunteers have plenty choices--from coaching to food bank work.


Kids out of school for the summer should consider doing some volunteer work. They can get out of the house, meet people from a different ZIP Code and do somebody some good. And, they may add some luster to their college or job applications.

There certainly is no shortage of volunteer opportunities for teens around the county. Margaret Stallings, a city of Ventura director of recreation enrichment, says departments call her all the time looking for volunteers. "We couldn't be doing all the things we do otherwise," she says.

Her community service department's counselor-in-training program is open to youths 13-17. Under the supervision of the professional staff, CITs--as they're called--help plan activities for summer day-camp programs at city parks.

There's a special camp program just to train the CITs from June 16-20. For information call Dorie Alvarez, director of volunteers, at (805) 654-7770.

Some teens have figured out that seniors citizens can be very interesting company.

One volunteer opportunity that pairs old and young is at Ventura County Food Share, the community food bank that feeds more than 30,000 people each month. Director Jim Mangas says that joining his rotating crew of 550 volunteers, "is an eye-opener for the youth."

While packing groceries donated to Food Share, or gleaning produce from local fields, kids meet retired executives, fishermen, military personnel and others "who have amazing stories." The seniors, Mangas says, "think young but they have all this experience. They can become mentors to the kids."

Another enriching volunteer opportunity where teens work with seniors is OASIS, which stands for Older Adults Services & Intervention Systems, sponsored by Catholic Charities of Ventura County.

In Camarillo, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, young volunteers make home visits to the elderly to assist with reading and writing letters, light housekeeping, shopping and light yard work.

There's a certain level of training necessary for this work. OASIS staff member Lanier Baxter provides it, along with a promise that "as these youth share, through service, they are enriched by the wisdom of the seniors." For information, call (805) 987-2083.

To help with Ventura County's summer recreation programs in Oakview, Casitas Springs, Saticoy, El Rio, Nyeland and Piru, call Pam Gallo at (805) 654-3934. Volunteers 15 and older are needed to help coach soccer, baseball, basketball and chess, and provide crafts instruction for three hours a day, three to five times a week.

The state Parks and Recreation Department uses high school volunteers at its Channel Coast District facilities. Call (805) 899-1400.

High school youths who want to volunteer at National Park Service facilities in Ventura County and nearby should call Mike Malone at (818) 597-9192.

The Conejo Valley Recreation and Parks District's Teen Volunteer Program involves kids 12-17 in helping the professional staff with summer recreation programs and reception desk duties. Call (805) 494-5165 for details.

At the Old Meadows Center in Thousand Oaks, volunteers 15 and older are needed to help the therapeutic recreation staff, which serves individuals with disabilities.

To match up volunteers with agencies, government and private organizations have formed the Ventura County Volunteer Coordinators Council. Betty Krause at (805) 654-3361 handles referrals in the west county; Norma Colero at the Thousand Oaks Library, (805) 449-2660, Ext. 225, in the east county.

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