volunteers

Joan Mahoney and Elaine Thatcher from Summerfest Arts Faire talk during the UServeUtah Listening tour at the Logan Library on Monday.

Representatives from Cache Valley nonprofits gathered at the Logan Library on Monday afternoon for a discussion about how service and volunteerism can be used to better meet needs in the valley.

The discussion was facilitated by representatives from UServeUtah. This state commission is the central coordinating body for service and volunteerism in Utah. It receives Federal AmeriCorps funding and then provides that money to local agencies who want to run AmeriCorps programs.

“Our work is enabling individuals and communities, organizations, businesses all over Utah to benefit from the good work that volunteers do,” said Sara Dorsey, the outreach coordinator for UServeUtah.

The meeting on Monday is part of the agency’s effort to create a new strategic plan for 2020-2022.

“We are really looking for varied perspectives on how we can improve our work,” Dorsey said.

As the new strategic plan is formed, Dorsey said the office also wants to focus on reaching out to businesses and facilitating corporate social responsibility.

In addition to helping local agencies and organizations utilize AmeriCorps resources, Dorsey said her office also focuses on recognizing volunteer efforts and providing training to organizations to help them better utilize volunteers.

“We are actually the number one state in the nation for volunteers,” Dorsey said. “But there are so, so many that there a lot of organizations that can be overwhelmed by how many people want to get involved and help.”

During the meeting on Monday, nonprofit representatives shared concerns and offered advice on various challenges related to gathering volunteers.

“We are concerned about the end of Scouting in the LDS Church,” said Elaine Thatcher, the executive director of the Summerfest Arts Faire. “We use a lot of Eagle Scout candidates and their teams. So that is a big issue for us.”

Other attendees shared concerns about appealing to volunteers across a diverse range of ages, creating a passion for volunteering in community members and finding volunteers in the summer.

Some ideas to address this last challenge included creating a Summer Citizen service course that would allow program participants to sign up for a set volunteer time each week. Another idea was applying for a National Civilian Community Corps to come to the valley through AmeriCorps for six to eight weeks and help with peak times.

In addition to the listening tour, UServeUtah will be collecting feedback on volunteerism throughout the state in an online survey that is available until July 31 at userve.utah.gov/strategic-plan.