John Bernardi, Bill Owens and Hillarie Logan-Dechene at the official opening of the North Country Regional Volunteer Center.
PLATTSBURGH — Even a quick glance around the country reveals an abundance of negative dialogue, Congressman Bill Owens said.
Thankfully, things like the North Country Regional Volunteer Center speak to the positive aspects of the American personality, he said.
“This is a fascinating concept,” Owens said at the United Way of the Adirondack Region for the official announcement of the North Country Regional Volunteer Center.
“This is important,” Owens said.
The 24-hour web site will help connect volunteers with opportunities and provide organizations with a venue to post their needs.
“Volunteering is a huge help to non-profits, and it is a big part of the United Way mission,” said Larry Pickreign II, Outreach Coordinator for the United Way of the Adirondack Region. “Most people don’t volunteer because they have never been asked.”
The primary focus of the volunteer center is to engage volunteers and solve community issues. The goal is to include all service organizations in their activities as well as provide support to community organizations throughout the state.
The North Country Regional Volunteer Center encompasses Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
The center fortifies the system for area-wide data collection that enhances advocacy efforts, case statements for founders and recruitment of volunteers. The web-based volunteer center matches registered volunteers with non-profit agencies that have volunteer opportunities.
Volunteers and agencies can register at www.northcountryvolunteer.org.
“Please visit the web site and check it out,” Pickreign said.
Funds for the center came from a grant established by the New York State Commission on National and Community Service. There are 10 regional volunteer centers throughout the state.
Many agencies need volunteers, and prior to this, when someone called United Way, their name was taken with hopes they could be matched up with an organization.
Prior to the news conference, the United Way hosted a training with 40 agencies ready and willing to sign up for the free service.
“We want to get a little over 7,000 new volunteers per year for our region,” said Kathy Snow, director of development for the United Way of the Adirondack Region.
That is important as New York currently ranks 51st in the nation in volunteerism, though part of that is due to the lack of data collection.
The new site will also generate a report detailing volunteer hours and number of volunteers, something that will be useful when writing grants.
Statewide, the sites aim to inspire 1 million new volunteers in three years.
“That is one effort to reduce the myth,” said Hillarie Logan-Dechene, director of philanthropy at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake.
The new site is a great way to celebrate volunteerism, said United Way of the Adirondack Region Executive Director John Barnardi. “We know volunteerism is alive and well in New York, and while we will collect data, the heart of it is to celebrate volunteerism.”