CARS HOMES JOBS

Regional Volunteer Center to match nonprofits, helpers

Recruiting effort seeks 20K new people

Tuesday, July 31, 2012
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— A local volunteer recruitment organization has received a $150,000 grant to launch a Regional Volunteer Center.

The Stakeholders announced Monday that it has partnered with the state Office of National and Community Service to establish the center, which will be one of 10 in the state.

As part of the initiative, the center will work to recruit 20,000 new volunteers a year over the next three years for nonprofit organizations in Schenectady, Saratoga, Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene, Warren and Washington counties.

It will also provide training to nonprofit groups in the areas of volunteer recruitment, management and retention.

In addition, it will gather data that will provide a benchmark on local volunteerism and serve as a standard to measure future volunteer efforts.

“We hope that the community will view us as that one-stop shop for all things volunteer,” said The Stakeholders CEO Catherine Hedgeman.

F. Michael Tucker, president of the Center for Economic Growth, said encouraging volunteering, especially among young professionals, is critical to the local economy.

“Today’s talented young workers don’t just want a cool place to live and work, they want to feel connected to their community. And if we’re going to continue to grow and expand our innovation economy and work to continue to build that workforce pipeline, we need not only to ensure that the young people who are here and are working feel connected to their community, we need to … attract others to come back home,” he said.

Gary Striar, CEO of the American Red Cross, Northeastern New York Region, said his organization is always looking for new ways to recruit volunteers and to ensure that community members are aware of the volunteer opportunities available to them.

“We have about 20 or so staff in our region and 2,500 volunteers. … We can’t do our work without volunteers. So this initiative to me is wonderful in terms of making sure people have the volunteer opportunities they need and they know where to go. So we’re thrilled about it,” he said.

Mark Quandt, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, envisions the Regional Volunteer Center as a tool to help connect nonprofits with volunteers who have specific skills.

Accountants, lawyers and construction workers are always in demand, he said.

“Those types of services can be invaluable, because otherwise you have to pay for them and it gets very expensive for nonprofits,” he said.

The Stakeholders was recently named an affiliate of the HandsOn Network of the National Points of Light Institute, supported by the George Bush Foundation.

HandsOn Network, the volunteer-focused arm of Points of Light Institute, includes more than 250 HandsOn Action Centers in 16 countries.

Hedgeman, who started The Stakeholders out of her living room, said she is very happy with the organization’s success.

“Here we are five years later with an office and a budget and a Regional Volunteer Center. I don’t think we really thought it would go that quickly, but we’re very excited about it,” she said.

The Stakeholders will hold an open house and networking event from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Beahive, 418 Broadway in Albany. The event is open to the public.

 
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