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Volunteers: Help wanted at fair

A nonprofit group seeking to restore the Hull House in Lancaster hit the jackpot at Volunteer Fair 2005. Six people remain active, and one, Dwayne Kurowski of Cheektowaga, is now a trustee and the group's treasurer.

"It was a godsend. Just when we needed him, he was there," said Gary Costello, who is directing the restoration project of the oldest stone building in Erie County.

The organization was one of 35 that recruited volunteers last year at the first Volunteer Fair, organized to ease the plight of nonprofit groups reeling from Erie County budget cuts.

A similar number of groups is expected for Volunteer Fair 2006 on Saturday, when volunteer opportunities in Erie and Niagara counties will once again be showcased.

Cradle Beach Camp, which offers a summer camping program for children who are disabled or disadvantaged, will be on hand.

"We're looking for volunteers to help us," said Cara Stillman, the executive director. "We have 60 acres of lakefront property in Angola, and we need some help in getting it ready for the summer camping program."

Other participating organizations include the Food Bank of Western New York, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the North Tonawanda History Museum and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County. Volunteer needs include answering phones, helping with mailings, maintaining flower beds and giving tours.

About 300 prospective volunteers attended last year.

"We are trying to take down the barriers to volunteering," said event co-chairwoman Carol Bronnenkant. "Here is a chance to meet with a number of organizations face to face to hear about their mission and what they need help with."

The volunteer fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in WNED Studios, 140 Lower Terrace. It is co-sponsored by Experience Buffalo Tour. For more information, call WNED volunteer coordinator Lisa Napier, 845-7025.

e-mail: msommer@buffnews.com

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