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The Central Hillside has a need for volunteers

DCN Reporter

Although it may not be obvious at first glance, the city of Duluth has a definite need for volunteers to lend a helping hand in many unexpected ways.

Jan Lappy, the director of resident program services at Saint Anne’s Residence, in the Central Hillside said her organization has experienced shortages of volunteers.

In the 40 years that it has been in operation, Saint Anne’s has established a firm base of volunteers, but it continues to have a need for more.

Even an established organization in the Hillside such as Saint Anne’s has difficulty finding volunteers at times.

“For certain things there is difficulty finding volunteers,? said Lappy.

Steve "Floyd" Wahl of Floyd’s Hair Chopper’s on 4th Street is one man who happens to be willing to give his time outside of his regular work schedule to cut hair for long term patients at the Miller Dwan Medical Center.

“I feel really good when I leave there,? said Wahl regarding the times that he has cut hair for patients.

Although the simple act of cutting hair may seem trivial to most, the fact that he is willing to work outside of his normal schedule creates a massive impact in the lives of the people he works with.

“It is important for patients to have a haircut,? said Dave Schunk, a social worker at Miller Dwan. “It gives them a sense of normality.?

To many patients who have had their heads shaved due to surgery, a good haircut can often help them to feel normal again explained Schunk.

Not only do they receive a sense of normality, but it proves to be “one of those little things that can make your stay,? said Floyd.

Although Floyd is willing to donate his time, there exists a need for even more volunteers.

“For us there is a need,? said Schunk. “There are only two or three volunteers who are willing to come.?

Paul Reed, a professor at Carleton University, conducted a study between 1997 and 2000 showing that 18 percent of people who volunteered in those years stopped two years later.

There was only an 11 percent growth in volunteers in that time period showing a decline in volunteers by 7 percent.

Casey LaCore, a volunteer program coordinator at the University of Minnesota Duluth said that she currently has around 1,000 active volunteers.

However, she said if she were to have 400 more participants she would have no difficulty finding places for them to volunteer.

LaCore said that the Central Hillside area is a difficult area to find volunteers for.

“People feel that the Central Hillside is scary,? said LaCore with a concerned look on her face.

She proceeded to explain that it has a stigma that people find frightening, thus scaring off potential volunteers.

“A lot of what they need is advocacy work,? said Casey.

A reason for the need in this area of volunteering is that people tend to stay away from advocacy work because it tends to be more time consuming.

Casey explained that advocacy work involves such activities as food-shelf work, legislating, talking about voting and hanging posters around town.

In the long run, this type of work will not only help to solve some of the Hillside’s problems but it will also help to prevent many needs it may require in the future.