Charlie Levy, who books rock 'n' roll shows through Stateside Presents, is the mastermind behind this weekend's Volunteer Fair, where more than 70 nonprofit organizations will gather so Tucsonans interested in volunteering this summer can get connected to worthy organizations that can use their skills. The fair will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 7, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., and Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. For more information, visit tucsonvolunteerfair.com.
Where did the idea of the volunteer fair come from?
I've talked to so many people who want to volunteer and give back to the community, but they just don't know how. "Where do you go? Who needs help? What times? What kind of help?" This is a way that people can find all that in one afternoon.
You had some trouble when you tried to volunteer, didn't you?
A couple of years ago, I had some spare time over the summer, and I wanted to go volunteer. I went on a couple of Web sites, and I visited three or four nonprofit organizations who said they needed help, but when I showed up, either they didn't need help, or ... I didn't really feel that I gave that much.
They weren't putting your skills to work.
They weren't at all. I signed up to volunteer at places, and they never called me, or they didn't need me, or they needed me from 5 to 9 a.m. on Saturdays, which I wasn't able to do. I kind of gave up. And I talked to other people, and that also happened to them. So I wanted to volunteer this summer, and I didn't want to go through the same situation, so I figured I'd throw a fair for myself and everybody else in Tucson.
So the idea is: These organizations all come together in one place and have a solid idea of how they can use people.
These are organizations that definitely need help. They've all signed up. We're up to more than 70 organizations, so it's one-stop shopping. When you go to them, they'll tell you what kind of skills they need and what times. It's going to be easy to find your niche.
Who are you going to have at this thing?
We've got Habitat for Humanity, Casa de los Niños, the Center for Biological Diversity, Literacy Volunteers, Mobile Meals, Sky Island Alliance, Wingspan. ... There are so many. There's something for everybody.
Will you have any bands playing?
No bands. We were thinking about it, but then we decided it might be hard, when you're trying to get information and get signed up for stuff, to have Golden Boots blaring out a song. It might be a little distracting.
You're workingp with the Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona on this?
Yeah. I went to them, and they were really excited and thought the idea was really good. They're the main sponsor, and they're the ones who got all the nonprofits to come. They've been tremendous. I think they work with 500 nonprofits. They place volunteers with nonprofits. It's a great organization.
What else can people expect?
We're going to have a table for service organizations. Because of all the extra money that the Obama administration has allocated to AmeriCorps and VISTA (AmeriCorps' program to fight poverty), there are more than 50 job opportunities in Southern Arizona. You can go up to people who work with VISTA and AmeriCorps now and ask them about the time commitment.
You can take advantage of that stimulus money.
They've got 50 jobs to fill, but this is the thing: People don't know about it. "How do you work for AmeriCorps? What is a VISTA?" Well, you can actually find out what a VISTA does, how much they get paid, what their hours are and what they do.
I have no idea.
Me neither! So I'm going to ask. I'm curious myself.
So if you have some extra time, and you want to help out the community, you can learn how you can really put your skills to work instead of just showing up somewhere.
Correct. That's what happened to me. Hopefully, this way, everyone can find a good match. And I really think, in this last year with the new president, people really are about helping out the community. I think people are ready for something like this. That's one of the reasons I moved to Tucson—because of the strong sense of community compared to Phoenix. I think people want to make this place better.