Booklet could help volunteers bridge gaps

By ALEXANDRA SONDEEN
Herald Staff Writer

Volunteer Dubois County, an initiative of Tri-Cap, is distributing 10,000 copies of the newly published Volunteer Opportunities Guide across Dubois County. The guide lists about 50 organizations and events countywide that are searching for extra help.

“The importance being placed on volunteering is really starting to increase,” Tri-Cap volunteer coordinator Paige Stradtner said. “Public services are being cut. We view volunteering as a way to bridge some of those gaps.”

Volunteer Dubois County, also known as the Dubois County Volunteer Center, connects area nonprofit groups and other organizations that use volunteers with local residents seeking service opportunities.

The idea for the center originated last year from a meeting of local nonprofit groups organized by the Huntingburg Foundation, which also underwrote the costs of publishing the booklet.

The program “really caught our attention,” Brad Ward, executive director of the foundation, said. “It was addressing the issues we heard come out of the nonprofit initiative.”

The guide is the first tangible outcome of the program that began early this year when Tri-Cap received federal stimulus funds.

“The brochure was a clear demonstration of the work they’ve done over the last several months,” Ward said. “I really do think it is a wonderful thing for the community to see this forming.”

The booklet is available at county government offices, chambers of commerce and Tri-Cap.

“The hope is that this booklet gets out there and gets used and people remember it,” said Marc Steczyk, one of 12 advisory committee members. “It starts with this booklet, which can lead to a website and online registering.”

Stradtner maintains databases of 70-plus organizations, their needs and residents who have expressed an interest in volunteering. She periodically sends e-mail notifications to potential volunteers describing upcoming volunteer opportunities.

But the next task, she said, is making the database of organizations and a community calendar accessible to the public electronically.

But there is a wrench jamming the gears. The nonrenewable stimulus funds that support Volunteer Dubois County must be spent by the end of September.

The program is seeking donations to keep the center running beyond that. Donations from public and corporate entities and private individuals will be the sole source of revenue until the center can secure other funding.

“There is a little bit of a concern because of the time frame,” Steczyk said. “Whatever is going to happen needs to happen quickly.”

If money runs out, the program will be forced to stop operating entirely.

The center needs $37,000 to $45,000 per year to operate, Stradtner said. Those figures include rent and other general operating expenses along with Stradtner’s full-time salary and benefits.

“If you want anything like this to survive, you have to have someone in there devoting a full-time effort to it,” she said.

The ultimate goal is to raise enough money to support the pilot program for two years after stimulus funds expire.

“Two years is a good amount of time to get something established and investigate other funding options,” Stradtner said. Fundraising is “going to have to be an ongoing thing.”

Anyone wanting to know more about Volunteer Dubois County may call Stradtner at 482-2233, ext. 144, or e-mail her at paiges@tri-cap.net. Checks made out to Tri-Cap Volunteer Center may be mailed with the donor’s contact information to 607 Third Ave., Jasper IN 47546.

Contact Alexandra Sondeen at asondeen@dcherald.com.




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