By Josette Keelor
National Volunteer Week is in full swing around the area, offering discounts, desserts and information for maintaining a healthy life.
What began Sunday with a giveaway of discount cards to 2,500 local volunteers, will continue Friday with a dessert party for the whole community and Saturday with the Healthy Living Event Kick-off to promote healthy lifestyles. Both events will be on the Our Health Campus, at 329 N. Cameron St. in Winchester.
Established in 1974 by former President Nixon, National Volunteer Week has grown each year with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled around the nation.
Sharen Gromling, executive director of the Our Health Inc., a Valley Health affiliate, said the week's local events are planned in appreciation of local volunteers.
She said the event has had a wonderful response so far.
Gift cards sent out to area volunteers from more than 50 nonprofit organizations give them 15 percent off their purchases at participating businesses in downtown Winchester.
On Tuesday, the third annual J. Donald Shockey Jr. Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management was awarded to Connie Nutter, president of the area chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness.
On Friday, an event Gromling said "is just fun" will include root beer floats, banana nut bread, carrot cake and also healthier options like fruit, cheese and crackers from 2 to 4 p.m.
"Anybody can come by," Gromling said. "Yes, the public is welcome. We'll go until we run out of desserts."
The week's concluding event will be the kick-off to Our Health's season of healthy living events, which Gromling said harnesses the availability of farmers markets.
Teaming with students from Frederick County Public Schools' Gifted and Independent Study program and students from Shenandoah University's Vista Program, Our Health has planned the Healthy Living Event for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday on the Kendall Campus GreenSpace.
Fresh produce, healthy foods, children's activities and free health screenings will be part of the festivities.
In honor of Global Youth Services Day, Our Health teamed with area students already working on programs to promote health.
Students at S.U. are working with the Boys and Girls Club to help combat childhood obesity using an Americorp Vista grant, and Gromling said county students are helping so they can fulfill a need to plan a project about health.
"They wanted to do some type of fair," Gromling said. "So it seemed fitting for us to [help]."
The event will be the first of the year to include local farmers' markets, she said. Events will continue on the first Wednesday of the month through November.
For more information, call 536-1600 or visit www.valleyhealthlink.com.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org