United Way Vance County

A recent article in The Daily Dispatch outlines what GET CONNECTED will mean to the community:

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United Way program will utilize networking
by MARTIN FISHER The Daily Dispatch

Networking technologies were tapped Thursday as United Way leaders planned an Aug. 2 celebration for the Get Connected campaign in the organization’s ongoing mission to “live united.”

The August event will be staged in the Ruby Tuesday parking lot. Through Get Connected, a social networking website will bring real-time help opportunities through a state-of-the-art online portal.

A United Way training seminar at Perry Memorial Library for leading member service agency representatives and directors offered details about how the online social networking dimension can be a solution for broadening contacts to potential volunteers. It also raises the excitement level for younger generations.

Jackson Olsen, a summer intern with the United Way who is familiar with social networking, guided the workshop into the realm of possibilities that exist with keeping a developed, current, more interactive place of online connectivity.

“Get Connected is a more accessible way for members of the community to volunteer, and to get plugged in with the service agencies in our area,” Olsen said. “This is going to bring a social networking approach to community services in Vance County.”

The event will actually come two weeks after the United Way website will open the online door to its “Get Connected” site through the “volunteer” link that goes live on July 19.

United Way Director Nancy Gray said the service of Get Connected is open to all charitable organizations, not just United Way members.

“This program is not limited to partnership agencies, but to all non-profit agencies offering services to Vance and Warren counties,” Gray said.

Each agency that plugs in will be asked to develop a profile page, with information on volunteer opportunities that should include what in-kind donations, budget needs, events and other developments they have going on. Pages should be kept current.

Olsen said he would follow up with individualized training, or tech support, for individual partners so the Get Connected community can start at a high level of readiness for the anticipated interaction.

“This also serves in the other direction,” Olsen said, “to help agencies with clients find helpful services for their needs.”

The strategy was making sense to training session attendees, who expressed general feelings of a lack of familiarity with social networking, but at the same time, a general understanding that it is a magnet for younger people.

“Social networking is the way to go these days,” said Candace Williams, administrative assistant with Warren County Youth Services. “It will be a good opportunity for us, because we need all the volunteering we can get. We’ve been struggling to get volunteers.”

To the Girl Scouts of North Carolina, Coastal Pines, the prospects for connectivity are apt to work on numerous levels, bringing volunteers in to help with scouting and opening the portal to tap into what is available for planning community service projects.

“This will get new volunteers, and will be an opportunity for our Scouts to plug in, to volunteer themselves,” Coastal Pines Membership Director Teresa Wimbrow said.

Linwood Martin, coordinator of the Teen Court program with Vance County Youth Services, said the potential impact could be decisive for his agency. 

“It will be a huge help, a huge impact,” Martin said. “It is because Teen Court is a program run exclusively by volunteers, with mostly volunteer teens, plus some adults. It’s mostly teens.”

Martin said that part of his awareness about the social networking idea came before the United Way began their Get Connected campaign.

“As a matter of fact, our teens have already been asking about getting us online that way,” he said.

Because Teen Court includes teen-based, jury decisions on real consequences to real in-school offenders, the networking would also be a positive link for youth in need of imposed community service hours to “get connected” to what they can do to work off that consequence, and link to more positive influences for their lives, according to Martin.

The event at Ruby Tuesday will include booth tents for volunteer agencies, and the restaurant has committed to donating a portion of its proceeds to the charities of the United Way.

Gray said that further information about the “Get Connected” campaign is available at their office location at 212 Dabney Drive during work hours Monday through Thursday, and by calling (252) 492-8392.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.

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