Living United Locally: The Volunteer Center
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Pat Hemingway, CAUW’s vice president of Community Investment says we live in a giving community.  
By Tamara El-Khoury Watson
Whether seeking a long-term mentoring opportunity or a more short-term commitment, community members interested in giving the gift of time this holiday season can access a single website connecting them to dozens of area nonprofit opportunities.
For decades, Capital Area United Way (CAUW) operated a Volunteer Center website matching local nonprofits with community members looking for volunteer opportunities. In recent years, the organization has ramped up its efforts to engage volunteerism in the capital region through a new, more user-friendly website that allows users to explore the volunteer postings of more than 90 area nonprofits, be alerted when an opportunity that may interest them is posted and track their volunteer hours. 
Those seeking to access this free resource can visit to view 70 current volunteer requests ranging from tutors with Communities in Schools of Michigan to volunteer tax preparers with the Asset Independence Coalition. 
“We have a giving community that wants to give, not only monetarily but they want to give their skills and lend a hand,” said Pat Hemingway, CAUW’s vice president of Community Investment. “That’s why we have a Volunteer Center.”
With more than 1,000 nonprofits in Lansing and East Lansing alone, according to the Michigan Nonprofit Association, finding a volunteer opportunity can be overwhelming. By giving nonprofits a free way of promoting their volunteer needs on a single website, potential volunteers can find the best fit for them without having to search through the websites of multiple organizations.
Chris Tyler, the assistant vice president of Human Resources for Astera Credit Union, said he has big plans for using the Volunteer Center website in 2017.
“It is a fantastic way to provide a direct link between opportunities that are out there and the employees who are looking for opportunities,” Tyler said. 
Tyler, who also serves on the CAUW Volunteer Services Workgroup, heard about the Volunteer Center in the past but had forgotten about it until recently attending a training held for those participating in CAUW workplace fundraising campaigns.
Tyler said he plans on raising awareness about the Volunteer Center website among Astera Credit Union employees and among managers who may want organize team-building efforts around community volunteerism. Tyler also plans on using it himself to plan Astera-wide volunteerism events.
Thus far in 2016, volunteers registered on Volunteer Center have given 127.5 hours to the community – time that is valued at more than $3,000. In the last month alone, more than 1,200 people have visited the website to find opportunities to volunteer. 
Potential volunteers or nonprofit organizations can access the Volunteer Center by visiting or by contacting Robin Ross at or 517-203-5033.
For almost 100 years, Capital Area United Way has served the residents of Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties by connecting people in need with local resources. In this series, Tamara El-Khoury Watson, Community Resources associate at Capital Area United Way, will introduce readers to the people and programs of United Way working to improve our entire community. 

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