Spring is in the air (on some days), the cicadas are waiting in the wings, and we already have had a few inquiries about our Summer Fiction issue. When will it come out, people ask, and when is the deadline for submissions of poems and short stories?

The answers: Wednesday, July 24, is the publication date. Friday, June 14, is the deadline for submissions.

As always, we remind you that the issue is not a “contest” in the traditional sense of the word. We are looking for short stories and poems that are by and for the people who read this newspaper. That means a person who wiles their time away writing poetry in a cabin in Vermont is not going to be treated the same as an office worker at the Carnegie Center who captures the latest in office-speak in a satiric short story. (Hmmm, we may ring-fence that idea ourselves.)

As for your child (or grandchild) who has written that wonderfully poignant poem, we recommend that this is the time to get together with classmates and start a little literary journal of their own. We don’t prohibit submissions by school kids, but we do discourage them.

As always we look forward to your writing.

#b#To the Editor: Time to Volunteer#/b#

In recognition of National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 21-27), I would like to encourage readers to celebrate the extraordinary people who donate their time to improve our communities or simply help friends or neighbors.

I urge everyone to take a moment to recognize volunteers by writing thank-you notes, sending flowers, taking them to lunch, or posting a tribute on social media.

The Oxford dictionary defines a volunteer as “a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.” Yet being a volunteer is so much more. It’s about connecting with neighbors, schools, communities, and those less fortunate. It’s about people sharing their hearts, time, and knowledge to improve the lives and spirits of those around them.

VolunteerConnect would like to thank our skills-based volunteers, professionals who contribute their expertise and talents to area nonprofit organizations. Due to their efforts, the Boys & Girls Club of Trenton & Mercer County has a new Computer Exchange Program, Isles has a stronger communications plan, Habitat for Humanity of Trenton has a new website, and Dress for Success of Mercer County has streamlined its technology needs.

I also invite readers to become volunteers. Help a neighbor plant a garden, pass out water at a local 5K, coach a team, become a board member, or share professional skills to make a strategic impact at one of the 40,000 nonprofits in our state. There is a volunteer in all of us — let’s embrace it!

To learn more, please go to our website at www.volunteerconnectnj.org or call 609-921-8893.

Amy Klein

Executive Director, VolunteerConnect

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