Volunteering in Houston Just Got Easier

If you've been eagerly awaiting a chance to volunteer but couldn't figure out how, you've just lost that excuse.

Mayor Annise Parker unveiled a new program and Web site today called Houston SERVICE which highlights opportunities and makes it easier to get info on them.

The Web site, and a coordinator for the initiative, are funded by a $200,000 grant from the Cities of Service program.

"This grant enables the city of Houston to help both Houstonians with big hearts and organizations in great need of volunteers, especially those that focus on at-risk youth, veteran outreach and heart health," Parker said.

After getting the grant last year, a panel studied where volunteers were most needed.

They came up with three areas:

After-School Zones: This initiative seeks to increase both the number of mentors engaged with the city's at-risk youth and the number of young people who are able to participate in academically rich after-school programming

Houston Veterans Continuing Service: The veterans' initiative will offer peer-to-peer mentoring support to help 250-500 newly returning combat veterans reintegrate successfully into civilian life over two years

Everyone Can Be a Lifesaver: Recognizing heart disease and stroke as the nation's leading causes of death, this initiative will train citizens how to perform effective bystander CPR using compressions only. These "volunteer trainers" pledge to teach compression-only CPR to five others, which will impact the entire Houston population by having more residents ready to respond to instances of cardiac arrest.

So it's time to come up with a different excuse or, if all else fails, volunteer.

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