Portal matches volunteers, opportunities

Range of openings listed on county website

A Douglas County Libraries volunteer helps a patron learn computer skills. Courtesy photo
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A newly launched online “portal” matches volunteers with opportunities based on their areas of interest.

Douglas County residents are known for giving back, and the recent introduction of www.VolunteerConnectDC.org makes it much easier. Organized by the Partnership of Douglas County Governments, a group composed of local municipalities, the site is already populated with announcements for more than 300 volunteer positions.

Ali Ayres, district volunteer services supervisor for Douglas County Libraries, says the plan is to engage volunteers and enable them to achieve their mission based on their schedule and desired organization. Ayres says it will carry resources further.

“The challenge right now is to find what they want to do and how they want to volunteer and some people actually travel outside of the county,” she said. “This is a good way to stay in the county. They don’t have to travel far.”

A detailed description of each opportunity lets volunteers know what is expected and whether training is required. The decision to sign up is in the volunteer’s hands. Users complete a simple profile and sign up for volunteer opportunities when they want with the click of a button. Organizations don’t solicit help directly.

During the first phase of the portal’s existence, the nine agencies in the Partnership of Douglas County Governments are the ones offering the volunteer opportunities. During phase two, which is in the planning stages, the website will be opened up to nonprofits, multiplying the number of volunteer settings available to philanthropic residents.

Douglas County Libraries, the organization that spearheaded the effort on behalf of the Partnership of Douglas County Governments, is accepting applications from nonprofits now.

A wide range of volunteer openings are on the site, from a season-long youth sports coaching position in Castle Rock to a one-day job for a decorator and monitor at the Sweetheart Skate Night at the Parker Fieldhouse.

“We find that (preference) differs per individual,” Ayres said. “People with kids might be more interested in doing something with youth. Someone who enjoys reading might go more for literacy.”

More than 450 volunteers active in Douglas County have signed up on the custom-designed site. It will likely get more use as the local population of retirees grows. High school kids needing volunteer hours for graduation, as well as those needing to fulfill court-ordered community service, are also expected to patronize the portal. It’s a centralized location open to individuals, families, small groups and large groups.
“The goal is to make it widely-used,” Ayres said.

Participating agencies: Town of Parker, City of Castle Pines, Town of Castle Rock, Douglas County, Douglas County Libraries, Douglas County School District, Highlands Ranch Metro District, Town of Larkspur and City of Lone Tree.