Debbie Mason: A week to celebrate volunteers


Published: Monday, April 22, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 7:35 p.m.

Most of us have an innate desire to participate in creating a better community through a variety of causes that benefit child welfare, animal welfare, environmental protection, arts and culture, the poor, hungry, etc. Despite this natural tendency, time seems to always limit those good intentions. Due to our job and personal responsibilities, it is rare that someone has the time to give back as much as they'd like. Those that make the effort are indeed very special people who deserve to be appreciated for their dedication.

This week is National Volunteer Week, and we celebrate our volunteers, a dedicated and talented group of people who spend their finite amount of time and resources helping others. Throughout the week, United Way of North Central Florida staff will thank our hundreds of volunteers for their selfless commitment to improving literacy, financial stability and health in our community. Dozens of other local nonprofit organizations will do the same with abundant gratitude for the work provided by individuals who give through volunteerism.

As important is the volunteerism generated through businesses. Businesses throughout our community are engaging in the social responsibility of supporting employees in dedicating time and talent to community causes.

Corporate volunteerism is a unique opportunity for the individual volunteer and the company. Employers that create a culture that provides time philanthropy as well as financial philanthropy to nonprofit organizations and community causes are much more likely to have better employee retention and morale. Also, volunteerism provides an opportunity for companies to train and strengthen internal skills, while employees represent their corporation in the community.

At United Way of North Central Florida, we are committed to encouraging volunteerism to support the myriad nonprofits serving every element of our community. Volunteer Select, brought to you by United Way of North Central Florida, is the new online, two-way match system for volunteers and any 501c nonprofit organization. Volunteer Select serves as the volunteer hub for our North Central Florida community by matching nonprofit needs with individuals, groups and organizations that want to help.

Volunteer Select provides three functions that create a two-way match between volunteers or donors with nonprofits that have needs:

1. Volunteerism: Volunteers post their resume and interest areas and nonprofit organizations post their volunteer needs.

2. In-kind services: Businesses and professionals post the lawn care, plumbing, legal, accounting, etc., in-kind services they are willing to donate and charities can list their needs.

3. In-kind donations of items: Individuals and businesses donate in-kind supplies such as clothing, diapers, toiletries, furniture, appliances, etc., and nonprofits post their needs.

Visit unitedwayncfl.org/volunteerselect to sign up as a volunteer, donate your goods or services or to look for a volunteer to match your organization's needs.

United Way of North Central Florida is honored to work with thousands of employees throughout the year that support our workplace campaign, Day of Action and other volunteer opportunities. We salute volunteers who give us and other nonprofits their time to serve as mentors, ReadingPals, backpack stuffers, those who deliver food to seniors, provide free dental screenings to children, work for a cleaner environment, serve as docents at our museums and so many other ways they give back. Please thank volunteers year-round, and especially this week!

No matter how limited your time and resources are, Volunteer Select can help find the right opportunity for you. Visit unitedwayncfl.org/volunteerselect and begin your volunteer journey. I'd love to hear your thoughts along the way, please drop me a line at dmason@unitedwayncfl.org.

Debbie Mason is president and CEO of the United Way of North Central Florida.

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