JustServe app makes service ‘crazy easy’

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Sidney and Bill Price
LDS missionaries work at a fall clean-up at Sunnyvale Park near San Jose, California. The JustServe program was piloted in the San Jose, California, LDS mission. (Sidney and Bill Price)

BYU alumni William and Sidney Price turned in their papers to serve yet another LDS mission together in San Jose, California in 2011. This time, their missionary service would last much longer than anticipated.

“(The LDS Church) asked us to go to San Jose and implement something that had a name and a very rudimentary website, and they said, ‘Figure it out,'” William said.

Now — about six years later — the JustServe app and JustServe.org have been launched throughout the United States and into Canada.

JustServe.org is like a free community bulletin board for service,” said Chris Crippen, an ambassador for JustServe. “Local nonprofits, even Eagle Scouts, can post needs to JustServe.org, and it uses geospatial location to help people locate these opportunities within their area.”

Crippen, who is also a Y-Serve director, said Y-Serve and JustServe are both geared to help direct people to service opportunities. He said Y-Serve hopes to encourage students to participate in Y-Serve service projects while at BYU and to be aware of service opportunities available through JustServe.

William and Sidney Price are currently the JustServe specialists for the LDS Church. But back in 2012 when they were starting the pilot program in the San Jose, California mission, the Prices said they had to go through trial and error to find a process that worked.

“After about six months we found a pattern we thought we could implement,” William said. “Once it was implemented, it was taken to Denver and Dallas to see if the local priesthood leaders could implement what we had written down.”

In 2014, the program was approved for additional areas within the United States. Finally, in 2015, JustServe was approved for all of the United States and Canada, according to Sidney.

William and Sidney said they were most concerned with helping the program become sustainable and scalable.

“Members of the (LDS) church want to give charitable service, but they don’t know how,” William said. “If you’re a class president, an advisor, or in the Relief Society, often it takes days and days or months and months to set up a service project. And when it’s over it’s over. Those kinds of things are not sustainable because we just burn people out.”

JustServe is organized so service opportunities by are listed by location, category or date, according to Crippen.

“I love how it has three different models you can look at. You can look at a map, you can look at a list or you can look at a calendar,” Crippen said. “Each one of those helps to customize users’ experiences as far as finding the best opportunity for them at that time.”

Sidney said committees organized within the LDS Church have helped get the JustServe program running within a given community when it gets implemented in a new area.

Once things get going, administrative rights for the website can then be given to organizations themselves to run their own projects. JustServe can then be run as a community resource for service opportunities, according to Sidney.

Sidney said the easiest part of their job in kickstarting JustServe was finding organizations to provide service opportunities at no expense. Using JustServe helps small and struggling organizations that are trying to help people while still struggling themselves, she said.

“We are offering exposure to a different group of volunteers,” Sidney said. “We’re not trying to compete or upstage; we are trying to be supportive of what these organizations are trying to do.”

Thomas Ellsworth, a BYU master’s student in computer science, said the JustServe website is “crazy easy” to learn how to use.

“Anybody could get on there and figure it out in a couple of minutes,” Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth got involved in volunteering at the Provo Bicycle Collective through a posting he found on the JustServe website a year ago. He spent a couple of months volunteering there about once a week.

“I was looking for something to do on a weekly basis,” Ellsworth said. “(JustServe) had a bunch of cool options.”

BYU sophomore Teagan Jorgensen used the JustServe as a resource for finding ways to do service in the community for her and some friends from her mission. Jorgensen and her friends used JustServe to volunteer at a food bank and to play with children with special needs while their parents were away.

“I feel like (the JustServe app) is very user-friendly,” Jorgensen said. “You just put your zip code in and then there’s just a huge list of things you can do.”

Sidney said millennials are interested in making a difference and being relevant, and combining service with a social aspect gives millennials this opportunity.

“You’re serving, you’re having a good time and you’re making a difference all at the same time,” Sidney said. “That’s just so fulfilling.”

Crippen, who is also a Y-Serve director, said Y-Serve and JustServe are both geared to help direct people to service opportunities. He said Y-Serve hopes to encourage students to participate in Y-Serve service projects while at BYU and to be aware of service opportunities available through JustServe.

Crippen said students’ experience with Y-Serve can help prepare them to really “dig into the JustServe experience as they go forth to serve.”

According to Crippen, anyone can post a service opportunity on the JustServe website. Each post is vetted by church service missionaries to ensure all projects are safe and meaningful.

“It’s a great way to serve. It’s not hard, and I think it’s something we should take advantage of,” Jorgensen said. “It’s a good way to spend free time, or building time in your week to do it.”

For more information about JustServe, visit JustServe.org or download the JustServe app.

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