Serving becomes easier


    By Jennifer Turner

    Community members can now search for volunteer opportunities in an easy and efficient manner, thanks to a new volunteer database operated by Utah County”s United Way.

    The database is a system designed to help nonprofit organizations connect with prospective volunteers.

    “Our number one goal is to make people aware of the volunteer opportunities available in the community,” said Mary Alice Cannon, United Way”s Volunteer Center Manager. “There are so many people with talents and abilities willing to share once they see the good that comes from it.”

    When a nonprofit organization wants to advertise openings for volunteers, it goes to United Way”s Web site. From there, it sends a message stating the need for volunteers and a brief description about itself. United Way employees review the message and, if appropriate, post it online to be viewed by perspective volunteers.

    United Way exists to help nonprofit organizations. It functions as a middleman, connecting roughly 300 nonprofit organizations with volunteers.

    The organization also provides funding for approximately 30 partner agencies and works with these partners to provide its own acts of service such as “Sub 4 Santa” and “Welcome Baby.”

    “The best thing is when you”ve created a win-win situation,” Cannon said. “You see the good results of volunteers, but also you see that the people giving the service are benefiting as well.”

    There are more than 1,400 individual United Way organizations operating in the United States. Each United Way operates according to the community in which it resides and focuses on families, children and education.

    “United Way”s goal is to increase not just the quantity, but the quality of volunteerism,” said Hadley Duncan Howard, communications director.

    Thirty partner agencies work with United Way to make these goals possible. In return, partner agencies receive funding and administrative help from United Way. After submitting a proposal, the agencies are selected once a year by a board of directors made up of members of the community.

    For five years, Lyle Comte, an employee at BYU, donated money to United Way. Comte said United Way is a positive organization that helps to enrich the lives of others.

    “United Way provides an excellent service for those who are less fortunate,” he said.

    Comte”s experience with United Way came from seeing the help the group provided to handicapped children. Children in the Utah Early Intervention Program were bused to BYU to receive special physical therapy treatment by swimming in the University”s pool.

    “The people that worked for United Way were very generous and very kind to the children,” Comte said.

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