Get Connected to Volunteering with HandsOn NWNC
April is here, and with it comes Volunteer Appreciation Week. Many of the hundreds of local nonprofits which provide crucial programming to the community through the effective engagement of volunteers take advantage of this opportunity to recognize their contributions, and HandsOn NWNC is no exception.
HandsOn Northwest North Carolina mobilizes the people and organizations that inspire community change, working within a network of approximately 500 different nonprofits and engaging more than 5,000 individuals and groups each year in service opportunities across that network. From March through May, HandsOn will recognize hundreds of local volunteers, many of whom serve in their Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, as well as those volunteers that are nominated from their partners for a Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.
Volunteers can get involved in various ways through HandsOn, but most individuals connect to opportunities through their online volunteer matching site, HandsOn Connect, which can be found at www.HandsOnNWNC.org. (Click on “Volunteer Now!”) More than 300 nonprofits host a profile on the site, and at any given time, between 75 and 100 different volunteer opportunities are being advertised.
“People always ask me which organization has the greatest need for volunteers, and that’s such a hard, subjective question to answer. The key to a successful volunteer experience is for the volunteer to determine what their passions are, what cause they care the most about. There are so many different volunteer options available, but being able to make a difference in a way that is meaningful to the volunteer will make a meaningful difference to the community, no matter the cause,” says Amy Lytle, HandsOn NWNC’s Executive Director.
Options range from working one-on-one with youth in a variety of settings, to service with health and human service organizations, clerical and administrative opportunities, various environmental and outdoor projects, and more. Exploring the HandsOn Connect site is easy, Lytle explains: “Once on the site, we recommend that you do a search based on zip code. Any Winston-Salem zip code will pull up all of our local volunteer opportunities. From there, the volunteer will need to register to create a free profile for the site, which will capture their basic contact information. Then the volunteer will be able to express interest or sign up for any of the opportunities offered — and their contact information will go directly to the organization offering that opportunity. We try to make it as easy as possible to get potential volunteers connected!” Volunteers can be any age, with opportunities for youth, seniors, and groups on the site.
For seniors looking for a longer-term volunteer commitment, HandsOn also offers the Retired and Senior Volunteer program (RSVP), which is designed to engage those aged 55 and over in targeted, high-impact volunteer opportunities. The federally-funded program provides some special recognition and other benefits to these volunteers in exchange for their service. Currently, HandsOn manages 200 active RSVP volunteers who volunteer with ten different local nonprofits, providing services such as transporting seniors to medical appointments, delivering Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors, and helping to run the canteen stations at the American Red Cross. One of their RSVP volunteers, Peggy Roberts, has been an avid volunteer for most of her life. For the last 13 years, she has volunteered at the American Red Cross as a Volunteer Coordinator. When asked why she volunteers at the Red Cross, she states that her deceased husband was in the military. She remembers and has always been impressed by the way the Red Cross would contact and bring home military personnel of families who were facing a great joy such as the birth of a baby or when there was a crisis such as a life threatening sickness or death. Today, the 85-year-old Peggy volunteers nearly full time with the Red Cross, and encourages seniors to volunteer as a way to stay mentally sharp and connected to the wider community. And that’s just some of the benefits of volunteering, for seniors as well as others.
The staff at HandsOn are always eager to talk with potential volunteers about all of the opportunities available in Forsyth, Surry, Stokes, Davie, Davidson, and Yadkin counties. Come join us!
For more information about HandsOn Northwest North Carolina and the RSVP Program, contact Goldie Irving 336-986-1677 or visit www.HandsOnNWNC.org.
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