Nevada County resurrects, revamps volunteer program
May 16, 2018
The demise last year of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program left many in Nevada County wondering who would step up to fill the gap.
No one wanted to see the county's many nonprofits lose the volunteers that helped keep them running — according to Nevada County Director of Social Services Mike Dent, more than 400 volunteers working at more than 40 agencies donated a total of 82,416 volunteer hours in one 15-month period.
After the Agency on Aging Area 4 suspended Retired Senior Volunteer Program on Dec. 31, Dent made it his mission to find a new agency to administer the popular program and to expand it beyond its original scope.
And while the details are still being ironed out, it's official — Connecting Point will take over an expanded volunteer program.
"The working title is 'Volunteer Connection,'" Dent said. "We're excited. This is in Connecting Point's wheelhouse."
Dent had been tasked with leading the effort both to create stop-gap measures and to find the longer-term solution.
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The telephone reassurance line, where volunteers connect with seniors who might be isolated or have health issues, has been handled by FREED. And mileage reimbursement — which was a concern for several nonprofits that use volunteer drivers — continued to be partially funded by the county.
And Connecting Point was asked to help get questions answered, since the organization administers 211 Nevada County, a resource and information hub that connects people with community programs and services through a searchable web page and 24/7 local call center.
"For us, the program made perfect sense for what we do, which is connect people," said Connecting Point Communications Manager Heather Heckler.
Heckler said the agency has been connecting in-home care providers to people who need those services for years, and the volunteer program would employ a similar process. Connecting Point also connects clients with volunteer and paid opportunities through its employment services program, she said.
"This seemed like the perfect match," Heckler said. "We thought we could do it well."
Connecting Point was one of two applicants who submitted letters of interest to run the program, Dent said. The county selected them in April but still needs to finalize a contract.
"We are currently in the planning stages and hope to launch in July," Heckler said.
While the scope of the contract needs to be negotiated, the county and Connecting Point intend for the program to recruit adult volunteers of all ages.
"We're looking to make it an opportunity for everybody, to connect and serve the community," Heckler said.
"We're envisioning a simpler, more streamlined process," Debt said, adding that most of it will be online. "Connecting Point will do the match-making."
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.