After nearly 45 years of serving the Houston community, Volunteer Houston – the largest volunteer agency in the city – is undergoing a changing of the guard. The organization that pairs volunteers with organizations in need will publicly become part of IM on April 16 and reveal a new, personal approach to volunteering that will save nearly $20 million in labor costs every year.
To celebrate the transition, which will occur during National Volunteer Week (April 15-22), Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo, HISD Area Superintendent Nicole Moore, Houston NAACP Executive Director Yolanda Smith and IM CEO and President Martin B. Cominsky will gather at Hartsfield Elementary for a series of volunteer projects performed by students for six local agencies.
The students will work with Rebuilding Together Houston to create “welcome home” signs for families returning to their repaired homes post Hurricane Harvey. They will pack first-aid kits for children in developing countries for Project C.U.R.E. and assemble pet toys from upcycled material with Houston PetSet for local rescued pets, among other activities.
In return, volunteers in the Houston community will build a much-needed outdoor classroom on April 21 for the Hartsfield students who attend Houston’s only animal and environmental sciences magnet school, showing them firsthand the benefits of both serving and being served by others.
“Our volunteers serve the community in a variety of ways, including distributing food to families in need, assisting senior citizens with everyday chores, providing attention and care at pet shelters, tutoring teens in math and science, beautifying the city to make it more environmentally friendly, lending a helping hand to those impacted by natural disasters, and so much more,” said Volunteer Houston Director Johnie Jones. “We encourage you to be a part of the volunteer spirit that transforms communities through service and civic engagement.”
Volunteer Houston is making volunteering a more tailored and user-friendly process by fine-tuning the process of matching the interests of more than 10,000 active volunteers with more than 300 registered agencies that are actively recruiting volunteers. With more than 600 Harvey-related projects still on the list, the need for volunteers has never been greater.
A new Volunteer Houston allows volunteers to easily find opportunities that fit their interests in addition to project locations. Volunteer Houston will work hand-in-hand with community organizations as they recruit, manage, retain and recognize volunteers, creating a seamless process. Volunteer Houston provides tools and other needed resources to agencies, including workshops and webinars on effectively managing volunteer crews, sponsors community service projects and implements corporate volunteer programs.
The numbers are already speaking for themselves. Officially acquired by IM in the fall of 2017, Volunteer Houston has seen an uptick in registered volunteers and individual projects. Since January 2018, 4,000 new volunteers have registered and agencies have posted 6,000 new volunteer opportunities.
“Bringing Volunteer Houston under the umbrella of IM, whose mission is based on service through diversity, creates a perfect fit for both organizations,” Cominsky said. “We believe everyone should have the chance to make a difference, whether they have an hour to give or can make an ongoing commitment. That’s why we’ve made it easy for good people and good causes to connect.”
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Visit imgh.org (under the Volunteer tab) to learn how Volunteer Houston can connect volunteers and agencies with needs. The process is simple: Organizations sign up and list their volunteer needs, and volunteers sign up and look for organizations that have opportunities of interest to them.
Volunteer Houston also works with corporations of all sizes that wish to contribute to the community. Volunteer Houston customizes projects that align with corporate values and local needs. Projects can be one- or multiple-day experiences and include supplies, set-up and logistics, food and beverages, and prep for volunteer team captains. On-site support ensures that projects run smoothly.
Volunteer Houston is a proud affiliate of the Points of Light Hands On Network.