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Volunteer Center connects Cache helpers with opportunities

May 4th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

By Emily Pannell Johnson

LOGAN—This time last year, Ang Haroldsen was graduating from Utah State University unsure of what she’d do next. She’d spent her last three years of college volunteering with the Val R. Christensen Service Center, so when her adviser encouraged her to apply for a position as USU’s AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America, she went for it. Since then, Haroldsen has transitioned from part-time helper to career volunteer.

“Volunteering and service is my life,” Haroldsen said. “I actually got an award from the USU service center—‘Most Likely to be a Professional Volunteer’—it’s kind of a joke, but at the same time it’s not.”

In partnership with United Way, Haroldsen has spent the last year helping to organize the Cache Valley Volunteer Center, which had its ribbon cutting in November. Since then, the volunteer center has formed partnerships with 88 organizations in Cache Valley to serve as the link between them and individuals looking for career opportunities.

“We’ve got so many wonderful people in Cache Valley who want to serve and volunteer, but what we really needed was a way to connect them to the opportunities,” Sharilee Griffiths, director of the Cache Valley Volunteer Center, said.

Griffiths said the volunteer center will have a way for volunteers to keep track of their service hours, which will be especially beneficial to students.

“We’ll have a program where students can track any service they do, starting in middle school. The students who have really made service a focus will be eligible for service scholarships,” Griffiths said. “Volunteering is not just a service to others; it’s a service to students—they’re building their resumes.”

Douglas Stephenson, executive director of United Way of Cache Valley, said volunteering should rank at the top of middle school, high school and college student’s list of priorities. “Because being in the real world and understanding what it’s all about, that’s what makes education real,” Stephenson said.

For Haroldsen, volunteering and working as a VISTA has taught her about networking and how non-profit organizations function, which are things she’ll use in the future.

As for the future of the volunteer center, Haroldsen is confident it will become a fixture in the community. In the month of April, the volunteer center boasted 50 volunteer opportunities at 32 different sites, with 215 registered volunteers looking to serve.

“As long as there’s a need for volunteers, there’s a need for the center,” Haroldsen said.


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