Want to commemorate 9/11 by serving your community? Here’s how in Upshur County

BUCKHANNON – Most people who are old enough to have lived through Sept. 11, 2001 cannot help but shudder as they remember watching airplanes hit the Twin Towers and watching those towers collapse – and grieving for those lost on that day.

This year, 19 years following 9/11, we recall those events and recognize September 11 as Patriot Day, and as the National Day of Service and Remembrance. The website www.nationalservice.gov reminds us that “across the United States, Americans are called to volunteer in their local communities in tribute to the individuals lost and injured in those attacks, first responders and the many who have risen in service to defend freedom.”

Buckhannon offers a database that connects volunteers looking for ways to help and connects those wishing to help with those in need. The Buckhannon Volunteer Center’s website, http://buckhannonwv.org/volunteer/, lists local opportunities for anyone wishing to assist their community.

Callie Cronin Sams, information coordinator and grant writer for the City of Buckhannon, said the Buckhannon Volunteer Center is not actually a place, but is a virtual site for information that is more than two years old. Sams said she is helping to coordinate the website along with Michelle Harter at Stockert Youth & Community Center and Catherine Norko, director of the Charles W. Gibson Library in Buckhannon.

Sams said there will be displays at Stockert and the Gibson Library to encourage more people to volunteer.

“That is the plan for the Buckhannon Volunteer Center moving forward as we are not intending to hire a new coordinator,” Sams said. “In the past, we had part-time positions, and it was helpful to have someone to get it off the ground. At this point, it is up and going. We are encouraging not only individuals, but partner organizations to sign up to give and receive volunteers and post their needs.”

Sams said because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, there have been few volunteer trainings or events that have taken place recently.

“Hopefully, once we get past the pandemic, we will be able to get back to doing our volunteer training and be able to sponsor volunteer events and recognitions,” Sams said. “You might recall our Community & Kindness Day. A large portion of that event was through West Virginia Wesleyan College and their Center for Community Engagement. With them being remote this fall and with social distancing, we will not be holding Community & Kindness Day.”

Sams said volunteers who wish to help with cleanup at the Buckhannon Riverwalk Trail are welcome to come to Buckhannon City Hall, where they can find gloves and bags.

“That would be something people can do while also being outdoors and socially distanced,” Sams said. “Kathy Gregg (professor of Biology Emerita at West Virginia Wesleyan College and curator of the George B. Rossbach Herbarium at West Virginia Wesleyan College) needs help all the time. Also, Steve Wykoff (Volunteers in Police Service coordinator) and Brian Shreves with the Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management are looking for volunteers for Upshur County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). The Buckhannon VIPS (Volunteers in Police Service) are also looking for volunteers.”
The VIPS are the volunteer wing of the Buckhannon Police Department that helps the BPD with traffic control, events and other administrative tasks.

Sams said for the month of September, the Buckhannon Volunteer Center is encouraging folks to be prepared.

“Have a plan in place for your family and know what you would do in case of an emergency or disaster, whether that be an actual disaster or a terrorism event,” Sams said. “There are a lot of resources on the www.ready.gov website to help make a plan for your family and to make an emergency kit for your home and vehicle.”

Opportunities for volunteering listed on the Buckhannon Volunteer Center include requests from agencies like the Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance, Education Alliance AmeriCorps VISTA, Upshur County Senior Citizens’ Center, Stockert Youth & Community Center, VIPS, the Annual Green Bean Day Celebration, Buckhannon River Watershed Association, the American Red Cross, the City of Buckhannon, the Buckhannon Dog Park, the Upshur County Public Library, the Upshur County Convention & Visitors Bureau and Buckhannon River Habitat for Humanity, Buckhannon Nature Park and Learning Trail.

My Buckhannon reached out to the Stockert Youth & Community Center and spoke with Director Debora Brockleman, who said people wishing to volunteer can begin by signing up online at the Buckhannon Volunteer Center.

“People can complete the application online,” Brockleman said. “We need help for our Study Hall and the after-school program. Folks could volunteer to help pull weeds in our flower beds or rake the volleyball pit. There is always something that needs completed. Even if people want to come and read stories to the children, do an activity or anything like that.”

Sarah Campbell, director of the Upshur County Senior Center, said they are looking for volunteers.

“Currently, we are looking for volunteers for our Meals on Wheels,” Campbell said. “What they do is come in and help us load up the meals that will be going out into the homes. We have two routes where volunteers help us deliver and both of those are in town.”

Campbell said the Upshur County Senior Center is offering a volunteer training on Thursday, Sept. 10 and will be offering another training for volunteers in the future. Additional information is available by calling the center at 304-472-0528.

“We are looking for some volunteers who would be willing to come in and volunteer some time to call our seniors,” Campbell said. “We are realizing, with COVID-19, this may be a long time and we are coming up with more proactive ways to reach out to our seniors and making them feel more connected as this continues.”

She said across the state, groups are coming up with some ways to keep older adults connected including virtual book clubs.

“We are looking for ideas that people might have in order to get our seniors involved,” Campbell said. “As we move toward the holidays, we will be looking for donations for care packages. This year, doing things for seniors will be more important than ever – especially with the isolation COVID creates.”

Appropriate donations for older adults include include hygiene items like soap, shampoo, razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, conditioner, deodorant and fun items such as crossword puzzles, slippers, fuzzy socks and throw blankets.

“One year, we gave out new pillows,” Campbell said. “When you are on a limited income, a new pillow or throw blanket are overlooked as monies are spent on essentials such as bills and medicine.”

Campbell said folks may also volunteer to write out cards to go out with the Meals on Wheels but noted people don’t necessarily have to volunteer through the Senior Center to send cards and well wishes to their older adult neighbors.

“They don’t necessarily have to go through us,” she said. “If someone knows there is a senior in the community, they can write them a card or pick up the phone and call them. Things like that make a huge impact right now.”

So, whether you have lots of time to give back or just a short amount of time, be sure to save some to give back to your community while honoring the lives lost and first responders during Friday’s Sept. 11 Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance.

News Feed

Subscribe to remove popups, or just enjoy this free story and support our local businesses!