The United Way of Bristol TN/VA and the United Way of Greater Kingsport have partnered with Eastman Credit Union to launch online volunteer platforms in their communities. These online portals will allow community members to easily connect with quality volunteer opportunities in their communities through their desktop computers, mobile phones, or tablets.
The United Way of Bristol TN/VA’s site is called Get Connected and the United Way of Greater Kingsport’s site is called Volunteer Kingsport. Both sites offer visitors opportunities to find volunteer opportunities in a variety of ways. Visitors can filter results with search criteria such as “distance,” “family friendly,” and “outdoors.” They can also view a monthly calendar of events or search for a favorite organization. The site also allows visitors to “fan” nonprofits so they are updated on the latest volunteer opportunities with that agency. Other benefits to the site include the ability to create a “volunteer resume” and arrange group volunteer outings with family, friends, or coworkers.
Volunteers are an important part of how United Way impacts needs in our community. Eastman Credit Union has stepped up to sponsor the volunteer platform with a grant of $10,000. The sites represent a major collaborative endeavor, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the community through knowledge, cooperation, service and support by showcasing volunteer opportunities for local nonprofits through a searchable database.
“United Way is important to ECU, because community is important to us. We see this software as an opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness of volunteers and the United Way admin staff, allowing more time and energy to be given to those in need,” said Lynn Osborne, ECU Regional Director.
A press conference launching the new platforms was held from 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. at Eastman Credit Union’s Blountville branch: 1911 TN-394, Blountville, TN 37617. At the conference, Lynn Osbourne welcomed all those in attendance and spoke about why ECU supports these volunteer platforms. She was followed by Lola McVey, Board President for the United Way of Bristol TN/VA, Dick Collins of Boys & Girls Club of Bristol, Lisa Beilharz of Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, and Jeremiah Clark, UWGK volunteer. All speakers expressed the importance of an online volunteer platform for the continuation of mission-driven work in the region. Clark shared, “The ability to network is one of the greatest strengths of any community. The more individuals who can be made aware and then mobilized to action for any particular cause, the greater the impact that can be made.
According to census data, there are over 150,000 individuals residing in Sullivan County. The entire Tri-Cities Statistical Area as a whole: half a million. That’s half a million individuals who can potentially be recruited to volunteer activities. And yet I would be willing to bet that every person here knows of at least one organization which at one time or another has struggled to recruit even a dozen individuals to volunteer for their cause.
In my own personal opinion, the reason these organizations have struggled to find volunteers is that they have lacked an effective way to communicate with the majority of individuals in our region. Organizations are limited in being able to only communicate with individuals they already have a connection to, whereas potential recruits are also limited to only those organizations which they are already familiar with. What is missing is a cohesive volunteer network, a “Facebook for Volunteers”, allowing individuals interested in serving our community the ability to see and communicate with organizations in our region, including those they may not be familiar with.
Volunteer Kingsport is that solution.”
“United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community. We win by improving over 1400 lives every single day. We cannot do this work without the power of the community coming together to support the work of nonprofit organizations,” said Becca Sutphen, UWGK Community Impact Director. “In launching these volunteer platforms, we hope to give every person in our community and across the region an easy opportunity to access and experience the great work being done to serve our community every day. Volunteer Kingsport allows anyone to easily find a volunteer opportunity, sign up, and experience the tremendous impact of giving back.”