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New database connects volunteers to needs

In order to connect individuals and groups with volunteer opportunities, the city of Henderson has started an online database that matches people with community needs.

“We just want to help people volunteer for what they are passionate about,” said Emily Lewis, the senior neighborhood program specialist for the city of Henderson.

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, an independent federal agency that promotes civic service and responsibility, about 64.3 million people volunteered in 2011. The figure was a 1.5 million increase from 2010.

Its 2011 report on Volunteering and Civic Life in America said the estimated 7.9 million hours people served was equivalent to $171 billion in revenue.

Similar to national trends, Lewis said the program started when the city of Henderson received numerous requests from people who wanted to give back to their communities.

“We wanted to have a convenient way to handle requests,” she said, “so we came up with an online database.”

The database allows individuals interested in volunteering to post a profile highlighting skill sets and areas they might be interested in serving.

“So if you have a specialized skill and want to use that, you can,” Lewis added. “Say you used to design websites and someone needs that service. People can see your profile and contact you directly.”

When searching for a project, people can choose from 12 categories, including clerical work, educational, cleanups and assistance for seniors.

Lewis said assistance for seniors and educational work are the most sought after categories.

It’s not just for individuals. If organizations or people need volunteers, they can post a profile, specifying their needs.

Recently, she saw an elderly couple that had mobility issues ask for volunteers to help with landscaping needs.

Larger groups, such as the State of Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division, also have used the program to get volunteers.

Heather Korbulic, the state’s long-term care ombudsman for the agency, said she heard about the program from a co-worker in the Las Vegas office.

The agency works to provide advocacy for residents 60 or older in long-term care facilities.

“Our program is new,” Korbulic said. “We’ve been building it up slowly.”

Part of its need is to recruit volunteers to visit care facilities to check on seniors.

“This is a unique option for us,” she said. “We are able to look at volunteers and narrow down who might work for us. If we didn’t have this, we would have to find our volunteers through health or community fairs. It would be more time-consuming.”

Posting the profile has resulted in two volunteers, she said.

“They are just about to complete our certification program,” Korbulic said.

Even though the database connects people, Lewis said the city of Henderson doesn’t endorse people or organizations.

“There is no screening process the city does,” she added.

Korbulic wants to keep the profile up to attract more volunteers.

“It is nice to have a presence in Henderson,” she said.

For more information, visit the cityofhenderson.com/neighborhood_services/volunteer_partnership_program.php

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.

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