A centralized resource that aims to match volunteers and organizations that need help has restarted in a virtual capacity, three years after a physical Volunteer Center shut its doors due to a lack of federal funding.
The new incarnation of the United Way of Lewis County’s Volunteer Center exists on the Internet at www.volunteerlewis.org, which went online three months ago. Federal grant money has provided funding for the website and also for a new staff member, Kate Cherrington, who serves as the agency’s volunteer program coordinator.
The website aims to give organizations that need help greater visibility in the community, as well as match people that are willing to give of their time to those groups. Cherrington said volunteering is just as critical of a donation for many groups that simply need hands-on help to achieve their goals.
“For a lot of organizations, your time is just as important as a money donation,” Cherrington said.
Anyone can sign up for free on volunteerlewis.org, and can search for opportunities by the agency’s name, the area they focus on — i.e. basic human needs — or the zip code they live in or wish to help in. Once a match is found, the site can generate an automated email message to inform the potential volunteer of their new opportunity.
The same works for agencies that wish to sign up. Those that do can fill out a form, and United Way staff will get in touch. Several local agencies have signed up already, including the Onalaska Alliance, Growing Places Farm and Thrift Stores and STARS Adult Daycare, among others. The site in general serves Kitsap and Mason counties as well.
Cherrington says the site could also be a useful resource for local high school seniors who need to complete a service-oriented project in order to graduate. So far, Cherrington has visited schools in Chehalis to speak of the program, and has also talked to several service groups to promote the website and encourage people to simply get involved.
“We’re just trying to get the word out by getting out there and talking to people,” Cherrington said. “The website is still somewhat of a learning process, but it’s gone well thus far.”
Anyone wishing to sign up to volunteer through the website can do so by visiting www.volunteerlewis.org and click the Login/Join button. For more info, call 748-8100.