The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse needs more volunteer docents, such as Bill Henry, shown here walking the 203 steps to the top.

Whether it is guiding tours of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, advocating for children, taking care of shelter animals, bringing hot meals to seniors, beautifying the gardens of local museums and nature venues, helping veteran organizations, assisting the homeless or staffing theatres, the need for volunteers throughout Volusia County has never been greater.

John Mann, a volunteer and lead docent at the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, has been volunteering there since 2005. For a multitude of reasons, the Lighthouse has half the volunteers it did pre-Covid-19 and needs more help.

“In addition to tours, we are an attraction and a museum,” Mr. Mann said. “We are both onsite and outreach. There are about 400 lighthouse organizations that are active in the United States.”

The lighthouse began as an all volunteer operation, he said. “It wasn’t until the '90’s that we actually had some paid personnel. We do a lot of programs for school groups that come in during the school year. We (also) developed programs to go out to the schools and do our program in the classroom.”

Numerous programs are offered virtually, which was developed during the pandemic. The lighthouse is open daily, only closed for Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day.

Formal tours can be requested. Masks are requested for indoors and social distancing is adhered to.

If interested in volunteering, email Programs Manager Zach Hopple at zhopple@ponceinlet.org, call (386) 761-1821 or visit ponceinlet.org.

The lighthouse is indicative of the need for volunteers through Volusia County.

Courtney Edgcomb, president of United Way Volusia-Flagler Counties, said a lot of agencies have had to adjust the way they do volunteer projects to accommodate social distancing or mask requirements.

“A lot of our agencies are still very much in need of support from the community,” Ms. Edgcomb said. “We are working really hard to get people out there in a safe way so they can continue to serve their local area.”

The United Way website at unitedwayvfc.org has a link, Get Involved, which leads to volunteer opportunities. You can search for areas you are especially interested in and needs from relevant agencies will pop up. You can then connect directly to those agencies to offer your services as a volunteer.

One agency on the United Way website is the Guardian ad Litem program, which has a critical ongoing need for volunteers to advocate for children. The children have been removed from their home because of abuse, abandonment or neglect, and through no fault of their own. The guardian observes and notes what is in the best interest of the child, mentors them, encourages them and attends court on their behalf. All volunteers are trained and will work as a team to provide advocacy for the child.

The Council on Aging is always seeking committed volunteers to help serve local seniors. Consider delivering meals to local seniors while conducting well-being checks. Use your skills in one of the senior centers or dining sites by serving food, teaching a class, entertaining members or helping with events.

The Halifax Humane Society has just accepted 10 dogs from the Humane Society of Southern Mississippi in Gulfport. The shelter reached out for assistance in preparation for Hurricane Ida, and several animal shelters, including HHS happily agreed to help. Volunteers are needed to help these furry hurricane victims along with ongoing volunteer needs at HHS.

At the Ormond Memorial Art Gardens & Museum in Ormond Beach, Museum Director Susan Richmond agreed they could also use volunteers. Although the museum is closed for renovations and an addition, the gardens are still open. When the facility reopens early next year, volunteers will most definitely be needed.

“We will be looking to get our volunteers back and (add) new ones,” Ms. Richmond said.

To volunteer at the gardens and museum, call (386) 676-3347 or visit ormondartmuseum.org.

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