Spotlight on Community Services |
Volunteers of Louisa (VOL)
Written by: Lin Kogle, Secretary and Board Member VOL
Volunteers of Louisa (VOL) is a 501(c)(3) Not-For-Profit organization, whose mission is to improve the quality of life in Louisa County through people helping people. We will accomplish this by serving as a clearinghouse to help facilitate, promote and recognize volunteerism in the community.
In 1999, the importance and value of volunteers was first recognized by the Louisa County Board of Supervisors. Volunteers of Louisa was formed at that time, through the combined efforts of volunteers and non-profit organizations under affiliation of the Louisa County Resource Council.
VOL maintains an office in the Betty Queen Center, 522 Industrial Drive, Suite E, Louisa, VA 23093. In this office, we meet with volunteers and representatives of local organizations. This office is also used as VOL’s center of operations. We participate in local festivals and fairs to provide information on various volunteer opportunities. VOL’s database is used to match potential volunteers with appropriate organizations, according to individual talents and needs.
VOL’s roles include:
• Helping human service agencies and non-profit organizations meet their volunteer needs by recruiting and matching volunteers with organizations.
• Building public awareness and understanding of volunteerism.
• Initiating and promoting special programs and services to respond to community and individual needs, including operating the Louisa Employment Center.
• Organizing and hosting an annual spring awards reception, held during National Volunteer Week, to recognize Louisa County volunteers for their work in the community.
General areas of volunteer opportunities include:
• Working with the Elderly
• Working with Youth
• Working with Animals
• Assisting Victims of Abuse/Neglect
• Community Emergency Response
• Emergency Assistance/Crisis
• Environmental Issues
• Healthcare Issues
• Human Services
VOL also sponsors special programs that benefit the community. We joined with Louisa County Emergency Services and the Red Cross in 2003 to start a local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in the county. The primary role of CERT members is to be the “eyes and ears” in their communities in the event of a major disaster. Free training is provided for individuals or group members of a church, neighborhood, workplace or school who want to be better prepared for the hazards that threaten their areas.
Emergency personnel train the CERT volunteers in basic response skills. If a disastrous event overwhelms or delays the community’s professional response, CERT members can assist others until the professionals arrive. During their training, they learn how to...
* Prepare for hazards that may threaten their community
* Size-up the situation & apply safety principles
* Locate & turn off utilities
* Extinguish small fires
* Identify hazardous material situations
* Apply basic first aid
* Communicate with emergency personnel
In 2004 we partnered with Louisa County Public Schools to support “Books for Babies”, an early reading intervention program. Also partnering with the parents of newborn children, the program is designed to jump-start reading in the life of every Louisa County child. Volunteers and school system staff ask permission to provide parents of a newborn complimentary materials and to demonstrate reading techniques. The parents are also given a coupon for another free book from the Louisa library. Initial “Books for Babies” packets are distributed from various Louisa locations, including the Health Department, churches and the Health and Wellness Center.
In 2008, we partnered with the Virginia Employment Commission and Piedmont Workforce Network to open the Louisa Employment Center, also located at the Betty Queen Center. Our Executive Director also serves as the Manager for the Center, where we are currently serving about 400 visitors each month. The Center provides assistance with job searches, interviewing preparation and resume writing.
In 2010 and 2011, we worked with members from the Resource Council to plan seminars for service organizations in the county. Goals included improving communication between groups, and identifying gaps in services to our citizens. This served as a catalyst to re-energizing the Louisa County Interagency Council, which now meets monthly to address community concerns.
Volunteers of Louisa sponsors the annual Gail Martin Community Service scholarship for a local high school student who has been active in community service and hosts annual volunteer recognition events. This year’s event will be held at the Betty Queen Center on April 22. Nominations of local community volunteers are being sought. All nominees will receive recognition certificates and three volunteers will be selected for the prestigious John von Hemert award and Adult and Youth Volunteer Spirit awards. Volunteer community groups will also be recognized.
Volunteering offers a wide range of experiences and requires varying time commitments. From a one-time project to a weekly involvement, the choice is given to the volunteer. No matter how much or how little time a volunteer has to give, there is a need and place for everyone. Some people ask, “Why should I volunteer?” VOL believes there are many good reasons, including:
• To have fun
• To build a stronger community
• To share experience as a family
• To be a good neighbor
• To keep active
• To make a difference in your community
• To gain work experience
To learn more about VOL, to volunteer, or to obtain a volunteer nomination form, please contact VOL at 540-967-6095, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us at the VOL Website.
And, don’t forget to submit your vote for Volunteers of Louisa’s “The Volunteer Spirit Award.” The deadline for making your nomination is March 15, so act quickly! Categories include youth (up to 18 years of age) and adult. The awards ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, April 22, 2012. Click here for nomination form and see the Volunteers of Louisa website for submission information at http://www.thevol.org/. For any additional information call 540-967-6095 or email: email@example.com.