Community corner: Volunteers create connections

By Drew Johnson

We hear a lot of people talk about the importance of connections and community lately, but it can be hard to know how to make those connections on your own. Fortunately, we’ve got just the prescription: volunteering!

Kitty is a senior and a transportation client at South County Community Services. She can sometimes get rides to important appointments, but most of the time she relies on SCCS to get her to the doctor and back. “You’re so much better than the insurance company… they left me twice!” Kitty says. Although some riders get rides from only one or two drivers, Kitty often rides with someone new: “They’re all wonderful. And so courteous and polite, and on-time—they are a joy to ride with!”

Kitty enjoys getting rides from us, and the feeling is mutual: Tamra, our transportation coordinator, says that Kitty is a “lovely lady” that she “thoroughly enjoys driving”. This is a common theme at SCCS—the people we work with are great and we love spending time with them!

If you are interested in helping people in the community and making connections with older adults, you might like to volunteer with SCCS. One of the great things about South County Community Services is that most of our volunteer opportunities involve spending quite a bit of time with the people we help—drivers often report engaging conversations they had with the person they were transporting, volunteers who deliver food give us regular updates on the clients they drop off to, and our pantry volunteers pass the time with clients talking about cooking, kids, etc. while they shop.

In 2019, our pantry volunteers were awarded the Willie Webster Outstanding Volunteer Award from Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes and the presenting KLF staff member mentioned that most of our clients request to be scheduled with us when they call for an appointment—not something that she had seen with any other KLF pantries. (And, just to show how genuine her compliment was, Linda—that KLF staff member, now retired—is now a volunteer with our food pantry!)

It’s easy to begin volunteering with us: if you go to and scroll to the Volunteer section, you’ll see our volunteer handbook and an application that you can fill out online. We’ll try to work out the best place to get you started, and then we’ll plug you into a great group of people that care about and enjoy helping their neighbors!

Current volunteer needs:

Graphic design: We are looking for someone to help us with creating engaging website content.

Pantry delivery: We are looking for 1-2 people to deliver food to seniors on a weekly or every two-week basis.

Driver: We are always looking for drivers! The schedule is flexible and can be adjusted to fit your needs. Reach out to Tamra at 649-2901 extension 7 for more details.

Wednesday Winners: We are looking for 1-2 people to volunteer every other Wednesday with Wednesday Winners, our program for adults with disabilities.

Drew Johnson lives in Kalamazoo and is the Director at South County Community Services. He has a small quarter acre homestead with chickens, bees, and hops (and more!), a wonderful wife, and three energetic children. He can be reached at 649-2901 or

For more information on South County Community Services, please check out our Facebook page at or our website:

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