Getting volunteeers where they’re needed
EAGLE COUNTY ” Sometimes people who want to do volunteer work are not sure where their talents are needed. Organizations often go understaffed because they can’t find the volunteers they need.
Enter the Retired Senior Volunteer Program ” or RSVP ” and the Eagle County Volunteer Center. These two organizations try to match volunteers with needy organizations.
“Anybody who wants to volunteer, we work to find out what their passions are and find them an organization they would be happy with,” says Tammi Matthews, coordinator for the Eagle County Volunteer Center.
“We have a partnership with agencies within the county,” adds Cheryl Thomas, coordinator for the senior volunteer program in Eagle County. “When they have a volunteer opportunity, we are one of the contacts for them.”
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program works exclusively with citizens over 55 and strictly with nonprofit organizations. The program has about 300 volunteers who spend time at 4-H clubs, literacy programs, the Humane Society and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, among other organizations.
“We have volunteers that range from reading to children to one gentleman in his 70s teaching snowboarding for the Snowboard Outreach Society,” Thomas says.
The area’ large number of seasonal residents also like to volunteer, Thomas says.
A recent study shows that, although seniors may volunteer less frequently than their younger residents, they put in more hours.
The Eagle County Volunteer Center gathers volunteers of any age and ability, and doesn’t just work with nonprofits.
“I can work with just about anyone,” says Matthews, who worked extensively with volunteer services and youth in Montana before coming to Eagle County.
One of Matthews’ specialties is working with private businesses.
“I try to help corporations get volunteer programs up and running,” she says. “The national average value of a volunteer is $18.11 an hour; so, it’s a huge contribution for an organization when a volunteer is involved.”
The two volunteer agencies have about 400 volunteers.
“This is a very involved community and it is wonderful to be a part of it,” says Thomas. “It’s all to make Eagle County a better community as a whole.”
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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