The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 28, 2013

Website connects volunteers, groups

JOHNSTOWN — Those who want to improve the quality of life across Greater Johnstown have a new way to connect with like-minded volunteers and organizations.

Lift Johnstown and United Way of the Laurel Highlands on Wednesday unveiled a collaborative online volunteer resource, Get Connected.

“Volunteers are the core of what we do,” Lift Johnstown coordinator Brad Clemenson said at a press conference announcing the initiative.

“We strive to bring organizations together to better the community.”

Organizations with ongoing programs, one-time projects or community events can join the Get Connected website at uwlaurel.galaxydigital.com.

Volunteers who want to join their efforts will find those connections at the same website.

Get Connected is an expanded and refined version of a volunteer tool Lift Johnstown previously introduced on its website, as well as the Lift Project Party held in January. Hundreds of those attending signed up for volunteer opportunities.

The new site introduces additional enrollment and search options, along with social media opportunities using software developed for United Way Worldwide.

Potential volunteers can search by organization, area of interest, type of project and other criteria. They can ask to be contacted for specific opportunities based on interest and availability.

Participating organizations can create their own welcome page, describing their missions and listing upcoming events and volunteer needs. They can link Get Connected to the organizations’ websites and reach followers through Facebook and other social media networks.

Expanding the volunteer workforce across Greater Johnstown and surrounding areas is vital to bringing real change, Clemenson said.

“We are striving to reinvent our community as a vibrant small city,” Clemenson said. “We can do this by engaging the citizenry of our community and connecting people who care.”

The joint effort with Lift Johnstown and a growing number of participating organizations illustrates United Way’s mission of community service, said Bill McKinney, president of United Way of the Laurel Highlands.

“These are the types of collaborative efforts that are going to be going on in our community,” he said.

Volunteer help stretches money available to organizations through funding or grants from sources such as Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, foundation President and CEO Mike Kane said.

“People in this room have the ability to redefine our community,” Kane said, noting the importance of connecting organizations with both donors and volunteers.

“Our donors want to see this happen,” he continued. “We have the leadership; we have the donors who want to help; and we have the volunteers. Stuff is happening in our community.”

Randy Griffith covers healthcare for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

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