Commentary: Organization connects volunteers with opportunities

It was great to read the discussion about volunteering in the pages of the Nevada Appeal between Dr. Paslov and Janice Ayres of Nevada Rural Counties RSVP. Nevada is 50th in the nation when it comes to our volunteering rate, so all of us at Nevada Volunteers agree that this is a very worthy topic.

Volunteers are vital to our state because when people engage in service to their schools, neighborhoods, or fellow citizens, their communities become stronger and more productive. Indeed, citizen involvement, at both the political and civic level, is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.

Volunteering is a primary focus of Nevada Volunteers. We are a statewide non-profit organization devoted to enhancing the quality of life for Nevadans through volunteerism. We work with non-profit organizations, governmental agencies and faith-based groups to effectively recruit and retain volunteers. We also offer the public a free and easy way to access information about volunteer opportunities available in their community.

Our Web site, www.nevadavolun

teers.org , has a match tool where our non-profit partners across the state can post their volunteer openings as they arise. The public can search the volunteer postings on the site simply by putting in their zip code. A list of positions will result, making it easy to shop around for the perfect opportunity. When one is found, a connection can be made with the non-profit that needs the help.

In his commentary, Dr. Paslov advocated for a more formal program, a Volunteer Corps, to engage the community in volunteering. This is a wonderful idea. Volunteers can provide the vision, as well as the energy, for solving problems and improving society in a direct and rewarding way.

Ms. Ayres was right to point out, however, that her RSVP program, part of the federal Senior Corps, already fulfills some of this function in rural Nevada for those 55 and older. She also pointed out that AmeriCorps, which Nevada Volunteers administers for the state, is a national service program with a stipend that anyone, especially younger people, can apply for if they are seeking an intensive volunteer experience.

At Nevada Volunteers, we love to see people enthusiastic about volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to gain new skills, meet new people, and make a difference. It feels great to volunteer and that in turn can bring a healthier, longer, and more satisfying life to those who give.

Whether you volunteer on an individual basis or by becoming part of a formal service program, we encourage everyone to get involved. It is good for you and good for Nevada.

• Arleen Williams is communications outreach coordinator for Nevada Volunteers.

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