Friday, July 20, 2012

Volunteers help agencies serve the community

By DIANE HENTGES, Director of the Volunteer Center at the United Way of Wyandotte County

The overall economy has not been kind to most of us. However, it has affected some people more severely than others.

Some of our citizens have had their work hours reduced or maybe even lost their job. The number of under-employed and unemployed has put a strain on local non-profit social service programs in the community.

Some individuals and families need help paying rent, putting food on the table, getting health care and just coping with all that is happening to them. Food kitchens, local pantries and emergency assistance programs, health clinics and counseling services are trying to meet these needs.

Our local social service providers are facing obstacles in delivering services as demands for service increase and funding sources decrease or in some cases disappear.

The role of the volunteer is more vital than ever. Volunteers can provide needed supportive services for the professionally trained staff at local non-profits.

The volunteers can schedule appointments, help with paper-work and filing, answer the phone, and greet visitors.

This support frees the professionally trained staff to focus on the work they were trained to do. Volunteers can organize fundraisers, can solicit groups to organize drives to fill pantry shelves and can help the non-profit secure resources to better serve clients.

Volunteers can serve on boards and committees that are so important to successfully fulfilling the mission of the organization. In these times of shrinking resources, volunteer labor can help a non-profit maintain a safe and healthy environment for staff and clients.

The volunteer with special skills in accounting, graphic design, web development, or marketing to name a just a few can contribute their professional expertise to the agency lessening the strained budget.

Think about what skills and knowledge you can offer to an area non-profit.

What is your availability? Is there a social issue that is of special interest to you? If you need help in finding that agency that will be the right fit, give me a call.

For more information on how you can GIVE, ADVOCATE, and VOLUNTEER please contact me at 913-371-3674 or at

You can find volunteer opportunities by checking out our website, and click on Volunteer.