FSU Partners with United Way and Mountainside Community Coalition to Create New Volunteer Center
To help fulfill critical and unmet needs in the area, the County United Way, Frostburg State University and the Mountainside Community Coalition have joined forces to create the Volunteer Center of Allegany County. Located in office space donated by the County United Way on the third floor of the F & M Bank at 71 Baltimore St., Cumberland, the Center is expected to open in April during National Volunteer Week.
"It's a two-year effort that is coming to fruition," says Cherie Krug, executive director of the Western Maryland Alliance for Service and Volunteerism and AmeriCorps at FSU.
The Center will serve as a clearinghouse where local residents may register, research and sign on for service opportunities with area non-profit agencies, community groups and churches listed in a Web-based database. A part-time director, assisted by a full-time *VISTA member and volunteer staff, will provide administrative support for the Center and help match volunteers with organizations and tasks that fit their interests, skills and schedules. Training and recognition for volunteers will also be offered.
Factors influencing the creation of the Center include the area's relatively high unemployment rate, low percentage of college graduates and low per capita income as compared to the State of Maryland as a whole. The need for such a Center is especially acute during emergencies, which can include everything from floods to tornados to terrorist attacks.
Funding for the Center comes primarily from the Governor's Office of Service and Volunteerism under the auspices of the Lieutenant Governor's Regional Volunteer Services, along with a grant from the Allegany County Commissioners. With the assistance of faculty and staff from FSU, the Center's staff will create a business plan to include fund development and marketing efforts to allow the facility to become self-supporting.
To determine the need for the Center, the FSU Business Faculty Team conducted a feasibility study in collaboration with the Western Maryland Coalition on Volunteerism.
Funded by a $4,000 grant from the Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism, the study affirmed the need for such a Center and, citing a recent study by the Independent Sector that set the value of volunteer service at $15.39 per hour, determined that such a facility would serve as a strategy for economic development.
Several members of the FSU community have provided leadership and expertise to the creation of the center by serving as members of the Volunteer Center Taskforce. Krug was part of the start-up team and currently acts as a spokeswoman for the Center. Dr. Amit Shah, associate professor for the FSU School of Business, led the Business Faculty Team's efforts in the feasibility study. Rebecca Anderson, Volunteer Coordinator, *VISTA V.O.I.C.E. Clearinghouse and Rhonda Schwinabart, Read to Succeed, ASTAR! AmeriCorps member also serve on the Taskforce.
Other members of the Center's Taskforce include: Harry King, executive director of the County United Way; Dee Truesdale, member, Allegany County Board of Education; Patty Wright, director of volunteer services, Western Maryland Health System and Charlie Johnson, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program director, Western Maryland Health System.
For more information, contact King at (301) 722-2700.
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