From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 28 - October 4, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Sublette County Looking For Volunteers

by Trey Wilkinson

Without the help of volunteers, many nationwide, statewide and local groups and organizations would not be able to produce the quality services they often provide their communities.

Last Friday, the Sublette County Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon – this particular luncheon focusing on the topic of volunteering in Sublette County. A number of people were on hand to discuss volunteer organizations, including Sharron Bien with Kiwanis, Becky Gregory with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Tom Burns with Lions Club and Shelly McAlpin with Serve Wyoming.

Each individual took time to speak with the audience of approximately 40 people about the organization they represente and took questions from those in attendance.

Sublette County Chamber of Commerce Director Terrie Swift said the volunteer idea for the luncheon came about when McAlbin, Laurie Latta and Swift were trying to coordinate a time when they all could discuss the possibilities of bringing a volunteer project to Sublette County.

“Shelly informed us that the actual launch (of Volunteer Wyoming) was going to be the first part of October, so the timing was right to get the community involved,” Swift said.

McAlpin, a former director of a nonprofit and long-time volunteer, has continually advocated for ways to engage and retain volunteers.

“I will never forget the morning an enthusiastic and talented person entered my office and indicated her desire to volunteer for the organization Iwas running,” she said. “Unfortunately, the agency’s volunteer opportunities were filled. I phoned other local non-profit directors trying to find a place to send her, but came up with only a few short-term opportunities, none of which met her interests, schedule or skills. I can only imagine how she left my office feeling unfulfilled and unappreciated, and I felt helpless for not being able to connect person with a good volunteer opportunity.”

McAlbin said many Sublette County residents have shared their comparable volunteer experiences with her. “Local citizens report their number one challenge is not knowing where to begin volunteering,” she said. Because of this, Serve Wyoming has set forth a new initiative to serve as a resource toWyoming communities and to increase the number and effectiveness of volunteers in the state of Wyoming.

According to McAlbin, the new project, Volunteer Connection, includes a searchable volunteer Web site database called VolunteerWyoming, which connects nonprofits and community organizations to potential volunteers, matches people with volunteer opportunities that meet their interest and availability, and assists organizations in the management of volunteers.

Volunteer Connection also offers short-courses tailored to each community to build their capacity to design recruitment strategies that work for their particular area.

“We are forging many partnerships in areas around the state, including the counties of Sublette, Natrona, Converse, Sheridan and Goshen,” McAlbin said.

The Volunteer Wyoming database will be housed at the new Visitor’s Center in Pinedale and Swift is excited to be involved.

“The Chamber hopes to help facilitate the use of this network in Sublette County and is very excited to house the database at the Visitor’s Center,” she said. “This program is really the direction we (Sublette County) need to go in. I believe this program will benefit everyone that helps to organize volunteer-based functions.”

And there are plenty of those functions in Sublette County, including Rendezvous weekend, the Boat Club sailing regatta and ice fishing derby, the Half Marathon, Community Clean-Up Days, Kickin’ Cancer events and Christmas events, just to name a few.

“All the major events in Sublette County could usemore volunteers,” Swift said. Swift believes Sublette County can benefit “For Sublette County to be able to have a database of volunteers that are willing to take part in the events that they choose is not only helping the people needing volunteers, it is also helping those that are wanting to get involved in the community, but maybe don’t know where to start.This program will help to facilitate these groups to communicate with each other and the end result will be win/win.” While the database is out there it doesn’t mean this project will get rolling on its own. People still need to register and participate.

“I think the key is that everyone needs to participate,” Swift said. “We will benefit more from this if everyone utilizes it.” People can personally visit the Sublette area volunteer center in the Sublette County Visitor’s Center, call them at 307-367-2242 or call Serve Wyoming at 866-737-8304.

“Volunteers can change lives with the simplest of activities,” McAlbin said. “Pinedale and Sublette County can now send great volunteers to this central resource to help them engage in meaningful opportunities.”

“I believe thatwe live in a very generous community and I also believe that volunteerism is a huge part of that,” Swift said. “Whether they volunteer for an annual event, for an organization or for their clubs, these are the people that help our community hold on to many traditions that would not stand the test of time without the generosity of volunteers.”

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