Let’s create ‘volunteer central’

Last week’s column on volunteers brought a good deal of discussion about the topic. Some readers took it as a criticism of Wallowa County residents, which it was not.

There are many stalwart volunteers who make a difference in our community. The problem is that the same volunteers are expected to show up every time there is a need, and we’re not expanding the volunteer base.

One of my points was how do people volunteer for something when they aren’t aware volunteers are needed. How do clubs, groups, churches and organizations get the word out when they need assistance?

How can we match volunteers with volunteer opportunities in the county?

There were no ready answers.

So I came up with one. Why don’t we create a Wallowa County “volunteer central?” This would be a listing open to every organization that needed volunteers, a brief description of what the work entails and contact information. It could all be done electronically.

We would coordinate the listing each week here at the Chieftain, run it on our website and Facebook and schedule it in the print edition as often as space permits. We would provide a printed listing to libraries or anyone else who would like one.

There would be one simple form that groups would complete in order to be listed. We could even print and post the listing sheets on a bulletin board in a designated spot.

Here’s how it would work.

Let’s say one of our schools needs adults to spend time with at-risk children. The school would complete the form and send it in. Anyone reading the information would know immediately whether this opportunity fits their skills and talents and how to contact the organizer.

We could also go so far as to offer training for volunteer coordinators through the Rotary Club of Wallowa County. Successful volunteer efforts don’t just happen. They require an organizer –– a cheerleader –– someone to hoist the flag and lead the charge.

Let me know what you think of the idea and perhaps if you’d like to “volunteer” to help get a volunteer clearinghouse off the ground.

Kudos to everyone who had a part in the Wallowa County Fair last week. It was hot at the fairgrounds. I’m sure the heat had an impact. Fortunately, it cooled down by Saturday, giving everyone a bit of relief.

We have a ton of photos and results we will try to plow through in this edition and next week’s edition. We’ll also be sharing photos on Facebook and on our website.

I continue to be impressed with the quality of young people we have in Wallowa County. In addition to being smart and savvy, they’re friendly. In the process of getting identification for photos, I heard many great back stories from 4-Hers, FFAers and others.

It also helped that this year fair exhibitors mostly knew who I was and why I was walking around with a camera asking for names. I’m beginning to recognize individual faces as belonging to particular families and which families are related.

Fair officials and staff were also a big help again this year making sure we had information, names spelled correctly and other helpful information.

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