Civic Engagement

OLLI's Civic Engagement Committee seeks to identify, define and develop a sustainable plan of action which addresses signature social issues in Greater Asheville that engage and provide a significant volunteer experience among the OLLI membership community.  


Current Community Volunteer Opportunities

Hour of Code - A short term opportunity from Asheville City Schools

Julia Shuster

It is that time of year again where the Asheville City Schools (ACS) district starts planning for the Hour of Code (HOC). HOC is a global event where students around the world spend an hour demystifying the field of computer science. This year, students in Asheville City Schools will be participating in the HOC from December 7-18, and volunteers are needed Monday-Friday. ACS is waiting to hear specific timeslots from school staff, but there will be needs every day between 8:30am-3:30pm.

Volunteers are asked to commit to one hour in a classroom or computer lab. Volunteers for the Hour of Code act as an extra set of  eyes, ears and hands at the elementary level, helping kids log in to the computers, finding the right keys on the keyboard, comprehend directions, and praising them for a job well done. At the middle and high school level, volunteers will need to be a bit more "computer savvy" and be able to help students understand coding directions and help keep kids on task and doing what they should be doing on the computers.

Please contact ACS as soon as possible with your availability, if you are interested in being a part of this great event.

For more information about the Hour of Code, and why it is important, please visit To find out more about how you can be a part of the Hour of Code, contact Julia Shuster at or 828-350-6135.


Call To Action for Food Insecurity- An opportunity from MANNA FoodBank

Max Gruber

The holiday season is almost upon us!  In years past, MANNA volunteers have built the Ingles Giving Tree and staffed a table during the holiday season to accept financial and food donations.  This year, in addition to building the Ingles Giving Tree, MANNA will be providing a donation based holiday wrapping station at the Asheville Mall.

Instead of staffing the Giving Tree with volunteers, MANNA is asking you to assist with staffing the holiday wrapping station!  The wrapping station is set to run from Black Friday until Christmas Eve (November 27, 2015 – December 24, 2015).  Between two and five volunteers are needed to staff the station during all Mall hours (save for the first hour of each day).

Due to the highly variable schedule at the Asheville Mall, they have created a calendar of 2-3 hour long shifts for the wrapping station.  The available shifts can be viewed at the following link (shifts highlighted in red are considered booked):

This is a wonderful opportunity for holiday engagement, and MANNA is in need of tremendous volunteer support!  If you are interested in helping MANNA wrap up hunger this holiday season, please refer to this calendar and email Max your desired shift (  Be sure to include the names of all other individuals who will be volunteering with you. 

A video orientation and detailed instructions will be provided to all volunteers before their scheduled wrapping shift.  Please let Max know if you would like to reserve a shift or two this holiday season!

Call To Action for Education- An opportunity from Asheville City Schools

Julia Horn

In Real Life After-school Needs:
Final 2 weeks of Fall Session (November 30-December 11, 2015):
• Program support (supervision and direct service) on Monday-Friday from 3:30-5 p.m.

J Term (January 11-February 5, 2016):
• Tutors for Math and ELA on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 3:30-4:30 p.m.
• Field trip chaperones from 4:30-5:30 p.m. (locations TBA)

Professional Development Opportunity - Ignite A Passion For Reading: Transforming Reluctant Readers In Middle School


Tamaria Kelly
Middle School Success Project Coordinator
United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County
50 S. French Broad Avenue, Asheville NC 28801
Main: 828.255.0696 x 3337

Join the United Way on Thursday, November 19 from 1 to 2:15 p.m. at United Way of Asheville & Buncombe County.

Reading achievement is a key indicator of high school graduation and success with college and career. Across this country and in this community, there are many middle school youth who are reading several grade levels below their expected level. These kids need help. Along side local educators and parents, community partners and volunteers can play an important role in helping students overcome challenges as you work together to identify, support and advocate on behalf of area students.

The collaborative team from OpenDoors of Asheville and Camp Spring Creek will share best practices that have helped their volunteers and tutors support the kids they serve. OpenDoors of Asheville and Susie Vandervoorst have trained 18 Asheville City Schools classroom educators to date, who then serve about 350 students per year using the Orton-Gillingham, multi-sensory, research-based method reading instruction. As a result, OpenDoors trainings have raised many students' reading levels and strengthened teacher's multi-sensory instructional skills.

This hands-on interactive workshop is designed for both in- and out-of-school time professionals and volunteers who work with middle grades youth. Learn practical ways to identify struggling learners as well as ways to support all young people who read below grade level.

Click here for registration information

Call to Action for Education

Starting in January 2014, the Civic Engagement Committee dedicated its efforts to improving education in three Asheville City Schools (Ira B. Jones Elementary, Asheville Middle School and Asheville High School) by supplying OLLI tutors, mentors, class assistants and special events helpers. Read more about the Call to Action for Education.

Call to Action for Food Insecurity

In 2013, the Civic Engagement Committee chose the signature issue of Food Insecurity in Western North Carolina as our focus for the year. We hosted several symposia to inform and enlighten our OLLI members and that offered opportunities for meaningful volunteer service to help alleviate the hunger problem in our area.

Currently, two teams of OLLI volunteers contribute to montly workdays at MANNA. Check back for future updates on opportunities related to food insecurity.