PLATTSBURGH — North Country residents wishing to find volunteer opportunities can now access a regional center designed to help connect them with agencies in need of help.
The United Way of the Adirondack Region announced Friday afternoon that the web-based North Country Regional Volunteer Center is up and running. The center will serve residents of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
“We are very pleased to roll this out to the region,” said John Bernardi, executive director for the local United Way office. “This is a great way to promote volunteerism. We’re working hard to reach out to volunteers, and we know that organizations are doing the same.”
The regional United Way office received a $150,000 grant through the New York State Commission on National and Community Service to develop the program, one of 10 regional centers across the state.
The program will create a network between nonprofits and volunteers, who can access the program’s website to make connections.
“This is a fascinating concept to me,” said Congressman Bill Owens, who participated in a press conference held at the United Way office on Tom Miller Road. “This is an opportunity for people to serve and for people to be served. It is incredibly important.”
United Way held a workshop Friday morning for agencies to learn about the program and access the website.
“We had 40 agencies who went to the training,” said Kathy Snow, director of development for United Way. “There are so many people who want to be asked to volunteer but who didn’t have a place to go.”
New York state ranks lowest in the nation in the number of active volunteers. However, regional officials believe that statistic represents a lack of recording of volunteer activities rather than a lack of volunteers.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has targeted a goal of attracting 3 million new volunteers statewide over the next three years, including 7,000 per year across the North Country.
“We know that volunteering is alive and well in our region,” said Bernardi, who noted that the new center will provide a better resource for tracking the number of people who volunteer in the region.
Hillaire Logan-Dechene, director of philanthropy for the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, was appointed by Cuomo to the Commission on National and Community Service and was on hand Friday to promote the program from her role on the commission and as a representative of an agency that relies heavily on volunteers.
The Wild Center has about 125 regular volunteers, as well as many people who volunteer on a one-time basis for such activities as community cleanup projects, said Tracy Thomas, who oversees volunteer activities at the center.
Volunteers put in about 9,000 hours per season, she added.
Larry Pickreign II, outreach coordinator for the United Way of the Adirondack Region, said he will personally contact all agencies and all volunteers who access the website to ensure a “live” presence throughout the process.
The website, northcountryvolunteer.org, has links for both volunteers and nonprofit agencies. Volunteers can either search for specific volunteer opportunities or can access a list of participating agencies who are looking for volunteers. The service is free.
Email Jeff Meyers:
email@example.comGET CONNECTED Volunteers and nonprofit agencies can register on the North Country Regional Volunteer Center by visiting northcountryvolunteer.org.