Volunteer Recruitment

Al Johnson, left, and Bill Horning work on a line for tall ship Madeline at Maritime Heritage Alliance on Thursday. Several nonprofits are hosting a volunteer recruitment at the Discovery Center on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

GREILICKVILLE — Several years ago, Kathy Sanders said she never would have thought she'd be able to help crew an historical schooner ship.

"It sounded like a lot of fun and I have an interest in history," said Sanders, of Traverse City, a current volunteer with local nonprofit Maritime Heritage Alliance. "It became of the best experiences I've had."

Representatives from five water-focused nonprofit organizations based at the Discovery Center in Greilickville will gather for an open house intended to encourage new volunteers to sign up for any number of activities. The idea is to flood the groups with people like Sanders.

The free event will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Discovery Center campus, 13240 S. West Bay Shore Drive in Greilickville. Available volunteer opportunities vary from individual events to regular commitments.

Tom Maynard, impact manager with Great Lakes Children's Museum, said he helped to organize the volunteerism event. The goal is to get more people through the door and match their interests with the needs of the participating nonprofits, he said.

The museum seeks volunteers to assist with arts and crafts, events support, cleaning and front desk work, plus those who can do painting, plumbing, electrical, construction and remodeling. The hope is to restart the museum's volunteer program, Maynard said.

Also part of the volunteerism event are the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, Inland Seas Education Association and Traverse Area Community Sailing. Volunteer opportunities with the nonprofits range from serving as a crew member on a schooner and monitoring stream water quality, to helping with grant writing, beach cleanups or woodshop projects.

Michelle Handke, outreach and fundraising coordinator for Maritime Heritage Alliance, said the organization is almost entirely run by volunteers, as she is the only full-time employee. Each year the ranks of volunteers are reinforced with an open house and this year all the organizations at the Discovery Center opted to collaborate for the volunteer recruitment effort, she said.

The Discovery Center is a shared campus among organizations focused on freshwater ecology and the Great Lakes in Greilickville, across from the old coal docks used for the lakeside power plant before its decommission and demolition in 2005. The campus is a project of Rotary Charities and Camps & Services of Traverse City, intended to bring together water-focused groups with similar environmental stewardship and historic preservation goals.

Want to go?

What: Volunteer open house

Where: Discovery Center, 13240 S. West Bay Shore Drive, Traverse City

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2

Why: Find volunteer opportunities among five water-focused nonprofit organizations

More: Call 231-932-4526 or visit discoverygreatlakes.org online

Reporter