Graphic courtesy of the City of San Marcos
3rd Annual Stronger Together Volunteer Fair
The San Marcos Public Library is hosting the third annual Stronger Together Volunteer Fair on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in hopes of connecting local organizations and nonprofits with the community and potential volunteers.
The term “Stronger Together” became a cry for San Marcos after being hit by two devastating flooding events in 2015. The community banded together to clean out people's homes, to collect and donate items, to pick the debris from the streets and culverts and to volunteer their skills, their time and their money in whatever way they could. It became the silver lining to those heavy deluges according to Workforce Development Librarian Deborah Carter.
“That stronger together logo was created for the 2015 floods, when we all pulled together.” Carter said. “Everyone who was here during that time remembers the spirit, the feeling that we all needed each other, and we were all there for each other. So I love that we use that logo and name for this.”
The library is looking to revive that spirit in San Marcos residents by hosting a volunteer fair to give organizations and nonprofits the chance to gain volunteers and build partnerships and as a way for residents to reengage with their community in a positive way.
The library has already garnered a list of 16 organizations that represent a multitude of interests for volunteers, whether that be animal organizations, environmental care, child care or special needs.
“The volunteer fair brings together many of the important nonprofit organizations in San Marcos that provide the social safety net for all of us — for the environment, animals, children, families,” Carter said. “These are all the organizations that help with food insecurity, with childhood literacy, with our river, with all of the things that make us San Marcos.”
Carter said nonprofits are a vital resource for the community, but volunteers are the lifeblood that make them work.
“All these organizations rely on volunteers and so that's an important part of how they exist and how we have a social safety net is that we all contribute what we can. And it has been found that contributing time is more important in several ways than contributing just money,” Carter said. “When you contribute time, you also contribute to being a part of the puzzle, what makes us all work together.”
New to this year’s fair is nonprofit El Camino Real Mobile Bicycle Project. They will be out not only trying to recruit volunteers for their organization, but showing exactly what their organization provides to the community: free bike maintenance as well as repair knowledge.
“They are an organization that's trying to provide sustainable transportation and accessible transportation to people who would like to be more on bicycles but do not have a bicycle or maybe they have a flat tire and don't feel confident about being able to do repairs,” Carter said. “So they teach people, they have all the tools and they're going to be here on the front porch recruiting bike lovers as volunteers and also just fixing people's bikes. So if you want to ride your bike for a tuneup, if you want to bring your bike that has a flat tire, they will be fixing all the bikes for free and also just showing you how to do it and giving you confidence as well as recruiting volunteers.”
The Stronger Together Volunteer Fair is hosted in the beginning of December every year, during the middle of the giving season; making it a great opportunity for those looking to give back this season to find ways to make a difference for a cause that resonates with them.
“We all get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives and also in the materialism of our lives, especially as we near Christmas sometimes. We start thinking about our budgets, money, presents, the giving and the decorating, which is also costly,” Carter said. “And for me, (the volunteer fair) kind of puts the real spirit back into the season of giving and thinking about our neighbors and being kind to our neighbors. We sometimes don't even know who our neighbors are these days. So this event brings together the community to get to know each other and to get to know these very important organizations. It's an event of kindred spirits – for everybody who feels inclined sometimes to see what they can do for someone else or something else.”
Those unable to make it to the fair but that are still interested in learning more about local nonprofits and volunteering opportunities, can stop by the library’s reference desk for the Stronger Together Community Resource Directory, that will list all the up-to-date information – including whether it counts toward community service – about organizations with volunteering opportunities in San Marcos.