United Way to unveil plans for volunteer center in Steamboat

Routt County group to reveal proposal for facility to coordinate local efforts

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— Routt County United Way wants to make it easier for residents to volunteer their time.

The United Way will unveil its plans for a volunteer coordination center at tonight’s celebration recognizing donors from this year’s annual giving campaign.

Executive Director Kelly Stanford said those interested in volunteering typically have to organize their own volunteer efforts. She said during meetings with groups that advocate for area senior citizens and youths this past year, they discussed the need to more efficiently match interested volunteers with volunteer opportunities.

“We haven’t had a way to efficiently match volunteers with ongoing volunteer needs,” Stanford said. “Through my work with these groups, it became clear there was this need for this service.”

The United Way Board of Directors agreed, Stanford said. She said staff is reaching out to the more than 100 nonprofits in the county to inform them and hopefully get their participation for the community coordination center, which will be located in the United Way office at 1125 Lincoln Ave.

Stanford said the center, which is expected to be up and running by late August in the United Way office, would serve as a call and intake center that would assess the interests, skills and availability of interested volunteers. And it would keep a database of ongoing volunteer opportunities.

The volunteer coordination center also could prevent the loss of volunteers who have been discouraged when contacting an organization but find they aren’t immediately needed, Stanford said.

“We, as a community, will be able to prevent the loss of that sort of human capital that’s available to us,” she said.

The center also would provide professional development services for nonprofits and organizations to effectively manage volunteers. And it will provide education for volunteers.

Stanford said the center would initially serve those looking for volunteer opportunities in Moffat County.

The United Way received a $1,500 grant from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation to fund the volunteer coordination center. She said it would help pay for marketing, volunteer recruitment and an anticipated volunteer appreciation event.

Tonight’s celebration, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the rooftop patio at Howelsen Place, in addition to honoring donors from this year’s annual giving campaign, also will recognize workplace giving programs. The annual giving campaign this year raised about $490,000 — shy of its $525,000 goal.

It also will recognize outgoing board members Lou Dolman and Judy Hiester.

Stanford said the United Way would announce the $500,000 goal for next year’s annual giving campaign, which will run from Sept. 15 to Nov. 15.

She said it’s a tough fundraising environment, but the United Way still is setting its sights high.

“The more we can raise, the more we can put back in the community,” Stanford said. “And the needs in this economy are high.”

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

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