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Volunteering just got easier with online registration

Community in Action

Whether you’re a parent looking for ways to help at your child’s school, or a community member wanting to help Bellingham schools in general, volunteering is easier this year with the district’s new online registration form.

The new system is a time saver for both volunteers and school staff. Volunteers need only fill out the form once every two years — not every year, as with the old paper forms. School staff are no longer making photocopies of drivers licenses and handling all that paper. Volunteers now submit photo identification online, and all applicants are still screened through a Washington State Patrol background check.

More than 2,000 volunteers were registered and approved by the end of September. Now, schools can reach out to a small army of volunteers with a few clicks of the mouse.

“Feedback has been resoundingly good,” said volunteer coordinator Jennifer Gaer, referring to the new online registration. “We never had the ability to communicate with our volunteer base before, and that is going to be a huge benefit to students and teachers.”

Volunteers at Bellingham schools can be a classroom helper, a tutor, or a student mentor — to name a few options. More details about volunteer opportunities can be found on the volunteer program webpage and in the volunteer handbook, which is a must-read for new volunteers.

A recent Harvard study showed that students who participate in after-school activities are more likely to succeed. So one of Ms. Gaer’s highest priorities right now is looking for volunteers willing to assist with after-school programs at Cordata and Alderwood elementary schools, and after-school tutors in the high schools. There is also a high demand for mentors and recess buddies.

No special skills are required, Ms. Gaer said — “just a desire to help support a young person’s learning. That’s really the core requirement,” she said.

People without Internet access can register on computers available in the lobby of the district office at 1306 Dupont Street in Bellingham. For help registering or for more information, contact Ms. Gaer at 360-647-6848.






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