How different would our community look if all of us took the time to make our passion our priority? What if we sought out places where we could help address societal issues, instead of just talking about the problems?
United Way has long held the belief that volunteers are a powerful asset when seeking to solve community issues. Nonprofits have passionate leaders, valuable expertise and they understand the underlying issues facing our neighbor’s greatest needs. But what they often lack is sufficient manpower to fully implement the strategies and programs they know could actually help improve conditions over time. That’s where volunteers can help to fill the gap.
ieVolunteers has just been launched as a new volunteer hub for the region. The newly designed website focuses on key local issues that United Way and our partners know are most critical to the Inland Empire, from poverty and homelessness to health and education. The goal is to connect caring local residents with meaningful volunteer opportunities that align with their interests and schedule.
The website contains links to over 50 reputable, local organizations and programs needing volunteers to help maximize their impact. To be included as a United Way Community Impact Partner, each organization is evaluated by a group of local community members who select only those that can measurably demonstrate the impact of their work.
This group of organizations is working every day to address an array of needs in the Inland Empire. Programs needing volunteers range from after-school programs, tutoring, mentoring and career speakers, to assistance helping the sick, homeless, foster youth and those impacted by domestic violence.
We know that everyone volunteers for a different reason. For some, it’s to build new relationships or develop new skills, and for others it’s to apply their life experience to helping those in need or simply to know they are making a difference. But I’ve consistently seen that regardless of the reason, volunteerism is good for the soul.
Hilda Fried, an 82-year-old RSVP volunteer from Upland, is proving that it’s never too late to start giving back. “I like helping people,” Hilda said. “Coming here has made me very happy. I’m thankful I am able to continue to be a help to others.”
An entire RSVP section is dedicated to opportunities for those who are nearing or currently in retirement, 55 years or older. Volunteers are needed to help preschoolers, serve as a listening ear for youth in foster care, assist adult learners and help at a local museum or several other local organizations.
Gregory Bradbard is president and CEO of the Inland Empire United Way.