Calling all volunteers and community organizations. The Tucker Community Foundation recently launched the Potomac Highlands Volunteer Center, a new program connecting community organizations with individuals and groups interested in volunteering in their communities.
Casey Gilbert, coordinator of the Potomac Highlands Volunteer Center, said the volunteer center is an online platform, WVVolunteers.com, where volunteers can find opportunities they feel passionate about and community organizations can get help.
“Through the website, organizations have the ability to post and share volunteer opportunities and events, access valuable data and reach potential volunteers across the entire Potomac Highlands region,” she said. “At the same time, volunteers can search for opportunities that meet their interests, build a ‘volunteer resume’ of their service and network with likeminded individuals at the click of a button.
“We invite organizations and individuals to sign-up, get connected and begin their journey.”
The Potomac Highlands Volunteer Center will serve as a hub for volunteer opportunities throughout the Tucker Community Foundation’s service area, Barbour, Grant, Mineral, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph and Tucker counties in West Virginia and Garrett County, Maryland. It will actively engage local nonprofit organizations by expanding their capacity to recruit, manage and support volunteers.
The easy-to-use website eliminates the stress and hassle organizations often face when it comes to finding volunteers, making it easier to recruit and connect with eager volunteers. Gilbert said the program allows local organizations to create a page that includes details about the agency and volunteer opportunities.
“Once a volunteer responds to a need, the hosting organization is notified and can reach out to the volunteer,” she said. “The website also sends reminder emails to volunteers prior to their commitment to keep them engaged. The Volunteer Center will help foster these connections to improve volunteer retention and community impact.”
More than a dozen organizations have begun their search for volunteers through the website. The Friends of Blackwater are looking for volunteers to help clean up Otter Creek while the Elkins Depot Welcome Center is looking for a Tourism Ambassador, and the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library is looking for volunteers to play a part in Whoville 2018.
Additional organizations registered on the WVVolunteers.com include: Artspring, American Red Cross, Arthurdale Heritage, Mountain Laurel Learning Cooperative, Preston County Parks and Recreation Commission, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Tucker County Economic Development Authority and Preston County Development Authority.
Gilbert has started reaching out to local schools and civic organizations. She plans to work with church groups, public officials including each county’s Office of Emergency Management.
“We want the volunteer center to be a useful tool for communities if an emergency arises,” she said. “Later this year, we will also launch a pilot Later in the year, the Volunteer Center will partner with the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau to initiate a pilot VolunTourism program, in an attempt to invite non-residents to participate in local service opportunities during their stay.
“As the volunteer center grows, special workshops and training sessions will be offered to the community.”
To help guide the volunteer center, a Volunteer Center Advisory Council is being formed. Ideally, the advisory council will include a couple representatives from each county in the region, Gilbert said.
“The advisory council members will serve as a liaison and provide expertise and advice to ensure the success and continual improvement of the Potomac Highlands Volunteer Center,” she said. “Community members from Tucker and Preston counties have already been accepted, but anyone interested serving on the advisory council from the counties in the region should give me a call or send me an email.”
To participate on the Volunteer Center Advisory Council or for more information on the Potomac Highlands Volunteer Center, either as a volunteer or an organization, visit WVVolunteers or contact Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-259-5008.
The Tucker Community Foundation is one of eight recipients of Volunteer Generation Funding to promote the “Be Kind, #VolunteerWV” initiative. The campaign’s goal is simple: to spread kindness and volunteerism across the state.
The Tucker Community Foundation manages more than 120 endowed funds providing annual scholarships and grants to nonprofits and charitable causes throughout the eight-county service area. Inspired by the flood of 1985, the mission of the Foundation is to create opportunities for the communities we serve. Visit tuckerfoundation.net to learn more about the Foundation’s programs.