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Bastrop Volunteer Fair draws praise, large turnout at Convention Center

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By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer/photographer

Dee and John Wilson (Photo by Terry Hagerty Photography)Dee and John Wilson had come to the 2018 Bastrop Volunteer Fair to check out the myriad ways to help contribute to the area community. “I’m a retired teacher, so I have a little time on my hands,” Dee said. Dee had previously volunteered at her church’s food bank, and had also answered phones at a Baytown hospital. She and John had moved to Bastrop from Houston about a year and half ago. Dee said she found the fair “very informative” and the setup of tables at the Convention Center “well laid out.”

The first ever Bastrop Volunteer Fair was well attended.

The tables of the approximate 40 organizations – including City of Bastrop and Bastrop County representatives – lay end to end along the four walls of the main ballroom, thereby forming an open square in the middle of the room for people to easily view all tables and to converse with one another. The organizers of the fair said prospective volunteers would be “able to ‘shop’ organizations and opportunities of interest...a great opportunity to talk individually with a representative, explore an organization’s purposes, programs, and volunteer needs.” Dee said she found the representatives “very friendly and easy to talk with. I have time to give back to the community, so this has been great.”

Representatives of the Lost Pines Art CenterRobert and DeAnna Gillespie, both registered nurses, likewise were impressed with the fair. “This is an amazing venue. I love the way they did this,” DeAnna said. DeAnna had previously worked with the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Family Crisis Center. Robert said the fair was “a good way to see what’s out there,” referring to the numerous local volunteer opportunities, including serving on the City of Bastrop’s approximately dozen boards and commissions.

Combined Community Action's Helen Snow

Helen Snow has served 30 years with Combined Community Action, which is based in Giddings. Meals on Wheels, which provides free meals and other helpful support to the elderly, is perhaps the best-known component of CCA, Helen said. She was hosting CCA’s information table and had high praise for the both the great turnout and the crucial contributions of volunteers: “Our program could not survive without the volunteers,” she said.

Bastrop Chamber President Becki Womble summed up the inaugural event. “The Volunteer Fair was incredible! The average volunteer hour is worth $24.69. We met so many new people during the event that want to engage, and this is going to be a tremendous benefit to our community.”