PLATTSBURGH — A new regional center will soon be connecting nonprofit agencies with volunteers who are itching to give a helping hand.
The United Way of the Adirondack Region has developed a web-based resource called the North Country Regional Volunteer Center, which will serve Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
“New York state is listed as last in the use of volunteers,” said Larry Pickreign II, outreach coordinator for the United Way of the Adirondack Region. “People in New York believe we are doing much better than that but are not compiling the data as well as other states.
“The Volunteer Center will help nonprofit organizations calculate hours and units that people volunteer.”
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.
It will also create a network between nonprofits and volunteers. The program’s website will include access for both agencies and volunteers, who can then make the connections needed to improve both the use of volunteers and the documentation for when they are used.
“A representative from an agency can put in an opportunity, such as, ‘We need help for a food drive,’ and then volunteers can reach out to the agency,” Pickreign said, noting that the United Way will expand its marketing efforts to draw more volunteers into the system.
“It’s all a matter of matching volunteers with opportunities that are available.”
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
The United Way receives phone calls on a regular basis from people looking for volunteer opportunities, Pickreign added.
Those volunteers have typically been routed to a few agencies that United Way knows are always in need of help. With the Regional Volunteer Center, there will be many more possible agencies to match volunteers with, he said.
“There is strength in numbers. We believe every nonprofit should have a volunteer plan. This is an opportunity to provide them with that ser
vice, free of charge.”
SENDING THE MESSAGE
United Way will host an upcoming training session for nonprofit agencies interested in using the center.
“We’ll show people how to access the site, how to enter your agency and use different the parameters available,” Pickreign said. “We’ll also help with marketing of this service, getting the message out to volunteers on what actual activities are available.”
The New York State Office of National and Community Services, actively involved in engaging volunteers to help solve community issues, created the 10 regional volunteer centers in the fall of 2011 to help meet that goal.
Although the site is up and running, volunteer opportunities have not yet been posted, as the United Way wants to expand the number of non-profit agencies from the seven-county region that are participating.
“It’s been said that 37 percent of the people who would volunteer don’t because they were never asked,” Pickreign said. “The goal for New York state is to recruit one million new volunteers.”
There is no good way of calculating how many volunteers may now be active across the region, he said, but implementation of the Regional Volunteer Center will help to establish concrete figures.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION
To register for the training opportunity for the North Country Regional Volunteer Center, to be held Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the United Way office at 45 Tom Miller Road, Plattsburgh, call 563-0023. The program is free and open to non-profit agency representatives.
Volunteers and agencies can register at the North Country Regional Volunteer Center web site at www.northcountryvolunteer.org.