Lyme Volunteer Open House to be held Sunday

Lyme — Residents interested in giving back to the community, exploring a passion, or becoming involved in town decisions can stop by an event Sunday to learn about volunteer opportunities, event organizers said.

The first Lyme Volunteer Open House will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Lyme Fire House.

The need for volunteers comes at a time when Lyme, like many other small towns in Connecticut, has an aging population, said Ann Rich, the co-chairwoman of the Lyme Committee on Volunteerism and Lyme Volunteer Open House. Some volunteers who help run the town may wish to step down at some point in the future and let other people "take the reins."

"There are opportunities for anybody who is interested in a volunteer gig to find out what is really going on in the town and how they can get involved," Rich said.

Representatives from town boards, nonprofit and community organizations will be at the open house. The town and the Lyme Committee on Volunteerism are sponsoring the event, according to the news release.

While the town has a "handful of full-time employees," volunteers fill 140 additional positions, according to the release.

Rich said that people have their own reasons why they volunteer. For example, volunteering can give people opportunities to make their voice heard, learn new skills, contribute their talents, explore an interest from childhood, learn on the "ground floor" how decisions are made in town, pursue activities with their family, and make friends and meet neighbors, among other benefits.

Don Gerber, a member of the committee on volunteerism who grew up with parents who volunteered and has grown daughters who volunteer, said volunteering not only helps the town, but also brings personal fulfillment.

Gerber is involved with the Republican Town Committee and Lyme Land Conservation Trust. He also has served with the fire department, on the board of Camp Claire and on the Planning and Zoning Commission and Conservation & Inland Wetlands Commission.

"Certainly the town of Lyme has low taxes, and the only way you can do that is if you have a lot of volunteer help," he said.

"There's also a level of fulfillment with helping people and solving problems," he added. "It makes you feel good, it makes you enjoy life and it makes you feel like you’re an active participant and contributor."

He said there is flexibility for people with busy schedules to volunteer. For example, a small group of people could get together to work on a trail maintenance project based on their schedules.

Bob Cope, who serves on the town's Parks and Recreation Commission, moved to the town about a year and a half ago and he and his wife have two young boys. He said he is trying to find fun ways for people to get together, whether it's through a hike, sporting event or parade.

He said he is encouraging other families with young children to get involved and hopes that people in town get to know each other.

"A neighborhood is built by people getting together and creating it," he said.

Free picnic food, including donations by Four Mile River Farm and Deep River Snacks, will be available at the event, according to a news release.

Entities participating in the open house include: the Town of Lyme; Lyme Land Conservation Trust; Friends of the Lyme Public Library; Lyme Garden Club; Lyme Public Hall Association; Open Space Committee; Lyme Local History Archives; Parks & Recreation Commission; Cemetery Commission; Friends of Whalebone Cove; Lyme Consolidated School Parent-Teachers Organization; Lyme Ambulance Association; Lyme/Old Lyme Education Foundation; Lyme Fire Company; Mentoring Corps for Community Development; Lyme Grange 147; Lyme-Old Lyme Volunteer Connection; Friends of Lymes' Senior Center; Lyme Farmers Market Inc.; Lyme Veterans Memorial Committee; Camp Claire; Republican Town Committee; Hamburg Fair Committee; Democratic Town Committee; and High Hopes Therapeutic Riding.



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