By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – While students throughout Shrewsbury are starting another school year, Beth McCollum, Coordinator of Volunteer Activities (CVA), is hard at work putting together a broad range of innovative and successful educational experiences for them. Her offerings include presentations on “Enrichment Activities for Animals in Captivity,” “Broad Trends in International Relations,” visits from local chefs sharing healthy recipes, and scientists from UMass Medical School leading discussions in bioethics classes. The district will once again benefit from McCollum's hard work and planning.
“As the Coordinator of Volunteer Activities, I have endeavored to strengthen the extant volunteer base, explore new ways for volunteers to contribute, enhance the academic program, and strengthen ties to the business community,” McCollum said.
McCollum earned a B.S. in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and an M.Sc. in history and Philosophy of Science from University College London. She worked at AT&T/Lucent Technologies in sales until she had her first daughter and decided to stay home. In 2005, as a parent volunteer with two children in the public schools, McCollum applied for the (newly created) job as CVA. She is currently serving her seventh year in the position. McCollum works 15 hours per week during the school year, with the flexibility to arrange days and times around the demands of the position. Historically, Shrewsbury schools have benefited from having about 1,000 volunteers each year.
McCollum is instrumental in fundraising initiatives by organizing the annual Road Scholars 5K Race. The Shrewsbury Road Scholars 5K/Fun Run is an annual event that promotes good health and raises much needed money for Shrewsbury schools by way of the Citizens for Education Fund. The race, which is planned and executed by a volunteer committee, has raised nearly $50,000 (to benefit the students) in five years.
Along with the annual race, McCollum coordinates school benefit programs with local supermarkets and department stores.
To meet the needs of the diverse student population in Shrewsbury, McCollum helps to recruit volunteer translators to help with communications with non-English speaking families. When new families register, their welcome packet includes a letter on volunteer opportunities and interpreting. If they are willing to volunteer as translators, their information is added to a database. These individuals are contacted whenever a translation need arises that can be handled by a volunteer.
“Each year the requests for volunteer help change to meet the specific needs of the school community,” said McCollum. “Our volunteer population boasts a great diversity of abilities and expertise to assist with needs ranging from clerical help to Science Fair judging. Students unquestionably benefit from our volunteers” skill sets, and from the wonderful example of community service they provide. Volunteers, too, benefit from their experiences working in our schools and with our students.”
McCollum is hoping to see folks volunteer who might not feel that they have enough time, or an appropriate skill to share. She stresses that the needs are very diverse and volunteer opportunities can include a one-time commitment or ongoing opportunities.
To learn about volunteers opportunities contact McCollum via email at [email protected]