Lorene Keitch (July 6, 2017)
It will soon be easier for volunteers with a few hours to spare or special skill sets to contribute, to connect with service organizations and events.
The Columbia Valley Community Foundation came up with the idea of a website a few years ago to identify volunteer opportunities in local nonprofit groups, and connect volunteers with the groups. Then in 2016, the foundation conducted a Vital Signs report to look at different issues in the community.
“One of them was belonging and how people are looking for a place to find information to get involved,” explains Laurie Klassen, executive director.
The Vital Signs report confirmed the foundation’s idea of the need to connect organizations and people together. According to the survey, only 33 per cent of seasonal residents feel very connected to the valley, while 55 per cent of permanent residents do. The foundation hopes that with a website with all volunteer opportunities in one place, it will meet the foundation’s goal to ‘support initiatives to match potential volunteers with organizations whose activities fit their interests’, as identified in the Vital Signs report.
“The website will have a place where our nonprofits and charitable organizations can register and talk about their organizations, what type of organization they are, what kind of volunteers they’re looking for,” explains Klassen. “And people can register as volunteers. Both can look back and forth about where there may be a fit.”
Wildsight is one such volunteer organization within the community. Baiba Morrow, Wildsight president, says they have a deep and longstanding grassroots volunteer base in the community. But for special events or projects, there is often a need for more volunteers. One aspect of the website Wildsight sees as very beneficial will be the opportunity for volunteer groups to coordinate.
“If there was more coordination, we could share resources, share our skills, share our energy, that much more efficiently,” reflects Morrow. “Having that central point will allow nonprofit groups to be even more aware of what other groups are doing.”
The website, called Volunteer Columbia Valley, can now move forward from design concept to a full-fledged website, thanks to funding from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), which just approved $4,000 for the project.
“This is wonderful,” said Klassen. “The funding is really fantastic because it’s the last piece of the puzzle. Now we’re at the point where we should have enough to get the website at least up and running.”
Klassen hopes through the online database, the Community Foundation can help build a healthy community here, for full-time and seasonal residents. They also expect it should help different nonprofit groups when planning events, to look at possible overlaps in the busy Columbia Valley.
“Ultimately, we would love to help those groups work together, to help them to be successful,” shares Klassen.