April 28, 2005
When Chrissy Wolfersberger needed volunteers to help do general maintenance around town for this Saturday’s National Rebuilding Day, she turned to the VolunteerMatch Web site.
Before long, Wolfersberger had 200 or so volunteers to help on nine major projects. “It’s a great Web site,” said Wolfersberger, who is responsible for finding volunteers, year-round, for the nonprofit group Rebuilding Together in Colorado Springs. It’s particularly helpful when agencies are seeking volunteers with specific skills. In this case, Wolfersberger needed people to build wheelchair ramps and grab bars for the handicapped and elderly. Corporate sponsors, churches and civic organizations still are important sources of volunteers, she said. But more and more, nonprofit groups are turning to free national Web sites to connect with volunteers. The four most popular sites — VolunteerMatch.org, Servenet.org, Idealist.org and JustVolunteers.org — recently showed dozens of listings by Colorado Springs-area nonprofits seeking help. VolunteerMatch had the most extensive listing with more than 90 in neighborhoods across Colorado Springs. Servenet.org had a posting for Care and Share Food Bank’s “Taste of the Springs” fundraising event in May. The agency also has several volunteer opportunities posted. At Idealist.org, the Springs Rescue Mission was seeking cooks; JustVolunteers had a couple listings for the Springs. The sites allow volunteers to target opportunities near their homes by using ZIP codes. Care and Share started using the Web sites more than a year ago and now gets dozens of e-mails in return. “I got 11 e-mails this morning,” said Cora Simpich, the food bank’s community service and volunteer coordinator. “I get up to 30 a day from the Internet postings.” She likes the flexibility of posting general requests as well as specific needs. “We needed somebody to work in the warehouse who was willing to lift 50 pounds,” she said. “That’s a pretty unusual volunteer request. And we did get a response from the Web site.” Simpich still relies on the old network of contacts: businesses, churches, schools and newspapers. But in her never-ending quest for help — Care and Share logged 2,700 volunteers last year who helped gather and distribute 6.5 million pounds of food — Simpich is going hightech. “More and more volunteers are coming in through the Web,” she said. “It’s definitely the wave of the future.” Tell us about your neighborhood: 636-0193 or email@example.com