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PUBLISHED: 9:13 AM on Tuesday, October 17, 2006
United effort
Online volunteer center created to aid Southeast organizations
United Way of Southeast Alaska has launched its online Volunteer Center of Southeast Alaska, a new service that will help match potential volunteers with opportunities at non-profit organizations across the community.

The online Volunteer Center of Southeast Alaska, at www.unitedwayseak.org/volunteer, is a fully searchable database of volunteer opportunities throughout Southeast.

Anyone can search for a match based on a number of criteria, such as their personal interests, and any non-profit can add their agency's opportunities on-line. Nearly 150 opportunities from 40 agencies are already listed.

By developing the Volunteer Center, United Way is providing a community resource with two unique benefits: local nonprofits have a centralized place to recruit volunteers, and local residents have an improved method to search for the opportunity that fits them best. The service is open to all non-profits, regardless of affiliation with United Way.

"We build on the strengths of Juneau," said Daniel Ungier, staff at United Way. "This community has a strong record of community involvement, and we want to see that grow by providing a new place for individuals and organizations to connect over shared community goals, working together to build a better place to live."

"This community has a strong record of community involvement, and we want to see that grow by providing a new place for individuals and organizations to connect over shared community goals, working together to build a better place to live."
"This community has a strong record of community involvement, and we want to see that grow by providing a new place for individuals and organizations to connect over shared community goals, working together to build a better place to live."

Ungier said that community involvement and participation is the only way to maximize the center's impact, and encouraged everyone to look for an opportunity to match their interests.

"United Way's community-wide volunteer coordination has helped us time and time again," said Saralyn Tabachnik, executive director of AWARE.

AWARE's volunteer base is essential to the organization, and the Volunteer Center is an opportunity to gather more community involvement and support.

The Volunteer Center has also been in use by school groups to help students find their ideal, personalized way to connect with the community.

"Our school requires that all our students are involved with the greater community in some way, and the Volunteer Center provides them a chance to see what's out there," explained Kristi Buerger, a part-time teacher at Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School.

According to a study released in June by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Alaska ranks fifth in the nation for volunteerism, with 38.9 percent of the state population serving their community as volunteers.

When United Way partnered with McDowell Group in 2005 to conduct Compass II, a community assets and needs assessment, the results for Juneau were even higher, with 58 percent volunteering in the past six months.

Compass II also found that 88 percent of Juneau residents feel that people here come together to help each other out, and that 79 percent feel they can make a difference in their community, findings that far outweigh similar questions in other communities.

Discussions during the Compass II research also revealed that Juneau residents are looking for ways to build on these strengths, to find more ways to connect to and give back to their community, and to strengthen the culture of community involvement.

These findings drove United Way's commitment to creating a local Volunteer Center, which was then opened up to all of Southeast Alaska.

United Way of Southeast Alaska is a volunteer-driven, grass-roots organization that creates lasting change by bringing people and resources together to address community-wide issues.

Working with its 32 member agencies, United Way helps children and youth succeed, cares for the elderly and people with special needs, strengthens families and individuals, and meets the basic needs of people in crisis. Incorporated in 1979, United Way of Southeast Alaska is a member of the United Way of America system that includes nearly 1,400 community-based United Way organizations.

Each is independent, separately incorporated, and governed by local volunteers.


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