United Way of Pioneer Valley is a Leader in Regional Volunteerism Coordination
With initiatives like the Day of Caring, the United Way of Pioneer Valley connects volunteers from as far as the Berkshires to complete community service projects all over Western Massachusetts.
PIONEER VALLEY—On September 9, 2016, the United Way of Pioneer Valley launched their annual fundraising campaign with the Day of Caring—an event where over 1,100 volunteers from more than 40 area businesses volunteered across the region to help local non-profits.
A local bank helped clean up the Forest Park Zoo. An area hospital helped paint and refurbish the Children’s Museum in Holyoke. A technology company helped install new playground equipment in Westfield. During the last Day of Caring, both businesses and non-profits from outside Hampden County signed up to take part in the event, driving some distance to do their part.
“I participate in the Day of Caring because I believe that giving back to the community is a central part of promoting unity,” said Sharon Dorsey, an executive assistant from Health New England. “The past few years I participated in the Day of Caring, I loved seeing how appreciative and grateful the beneficiaries were!”
The day is great opportunity for team building, but it also is a chance for non-profits and area businesses to learn more about each other’s work. These opportunities were all made possible by the Volunteer Connector, the United Way of Pioneer Valley’s free, online portal where non-profits can post projects they need help with and be connected with individuals, families, classes or businesses who are looking for a volunteer opportunity. The portal can be accessed on the UWPV’s home page (www.uwpv.org) or directly (uwpv.galaxydigital.com).
The UWPV has become a regional leader in promoting and coordinating volunteer opportunities, Day of Caring being only one such initiative. In addition, UWPV each year promotes these other programs:
. Youth Generate: an annual youth-led community service initiative comprised of students from grades 5-12 recruited from schools across the Pioneer Valley. With guidance from school champions and UWPV support, student groups complete the projects during April (National Volunteer Month).
- Stuff the Bus: Each year, volunteers donate and assemble over 1,500 backpacks, filled with new school supplies, to be given to children who are homeless for their first day of school.
- VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance): A tax assistance program that provides training to volunteers to complete tax returns for low-income families.
- Customized Days of Service: UWPV can also help private groups (youth, church, businesses, schools, etc.), families, and individuals organize their own designated days of service or continued volunteerism throughout the year.
Along with financial literacy, basic needs and education, volunteerism is one of the four cornerstones of the UWPV’s strategy for improving lives in our community. Last year, 2,297 volunteers contributed 22,715 hours of service across the region, providing an estimated value of $636,044. The philosophy behind the effort is simple: “Give thanks. Give back.” By making a difference in other people’s lives, we’re able to show gratitude for the difference they make.