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Bronx activist helps kickstart volunteer network

Bronx Times

Marlon Molina saw need in the Bronx for a child to learn how to read, a homeless man looking to be fed or a park that needs to be swept, but few volunteers to help.

In response, Molina helped create the Bronx Volunteer Coalition, a network of 16 nonprofits rallying to bump up the number of volunteers.

Molina, a founding member, has been on a campaign tour for BVC at the borough community board meetings.

“You just got to step out your door and go do it,” declared Molina, a member of Community Board 3 in Morrisania.

The banker was also a seasoned community organizer for the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, setting up tenant organizations or rooting out quality-of-life elements.

He helped push out prostitution at a hot sheets motel near the Sheridan Expressway using the Mount Hope Organization and neighbors to pressure cops to use the nuisance abatement law.

He saw the power of volunteerism working as a trainer for Safe Horizons, leading volunteer notary publics to sign off on paperwork needed to assist 9/11 victims.

It was a breeze finding helpers in the early months following the tragedy, but eventually the wave of volunteers dwindled.

“Sometimes we couldn’t carry out the volunteer sessions to come in and notarize the documents,” recalled Molina.

Hurricane Sandy also inspired “spontaneous volunteers,” which ultimately died off. But Molina hopes the BVC can maintain those numbers, because, as he sees it, “there’s always a need.”

The BVC has teamed with Big Brothers Big Sisters to teach member groups such as South Bronx United, TriLatino and Literacy Incorporated the three R’s of volunteerism – recruit, retain and reward.

And Molina looks to make it easier for would-be volunteers to find their niche group by organizing Bronx Volunteer Week, a springtime event he dubs a “call to action.”

The Bronx Museum of the Arts will showcase a weeklong exhibit on volunteerism in May, with BVC’s member groups manning tables to recruite volunteers.

Bronx Volunteer Week will coincide with Bronx Week, whose focus this year will be on volunteerism.

Anyone looking to join a volunteer-based group can register at bxvc.org.

“We’re gonna tell all Bronxites if you been thinking about volunteering,” said Molina, “this is the time for you to do it.”

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group