ROCHELLE – A new online program has teamed up with the Rochelle Area Community Foundation to help adults find volunteer opportunities, track of their hours and provide a platform for non-profit groups to post all of their upcoming opportunities
Letsthrive360.com is a website open to all non-profit organizations throughout the country and their volunteers can register and their hours will be verified by the non-profits and recorded for future reference.
Founder and CEO Nicole Sdao thinks the world would be a different place if people measured volunteer hours the same way they measure their steps.
“If we all had it as purposeful and top of mind to go do good and put good back into the world as we did how many steps were taking, imagine how much better this world could be,” said Sdao
The idea for the program began when Sdao moved to Freeport 19 years ago. She was heavily involved with volunteering, but noticed a disconnect between non-profit groups and volunteers.
Before this program, people looking for volunteer opportunities would have to search online or call different non-profits asking if they needed any help. Not only can this time consuming and tedious, but many of the smaller, local organizations were overlooked because the national ones came up first when searching. According to Sdao, this program helps solve that problem by putting all opportunities in one central location.
“It is like a fishing net; all these non-profits are throwing out single lines trying to reel in volunteers. But when you put them all in one location, many more volunteers will see the opportunities and join in,” explained Sdao.
While the program helps many local non-profit organizations reach potential local volunteers, it also helps reach others across the country. There are no borders, so organizations from anywhere can list opportunities and people from anywhere can respond.
“I have had people call me from time to time and say ‘hey, my kids are going to be here over break and I would like to do something to help other people.’” said Kim Montgomery, executive director of the RACF. “Now, when somebody asks me this type of question, I can say to go look on letsthrive360.com for opportunities.”
Keeping track of volunteer hours is important to both parties, but can typically be very loosely monitored.
“If you think about how many schools require hours for graduation, the judicial system, time off or promotions from corporations. All of this was self-recorded or a hot mess of pieces of paper flying around,” added Sdao. “Before this program, recording hours was for the sole purpose of the organization and not the individual. Now you have a record for yourself so hopefully when you apply for a job you can prove that you showed up on time and did the work.”
Registration for the program is free and once an account has been created the user can search for volunteer opportunities using multiple different filters. They can search by zip code, distance away, date, organization and even a specific skill interest. Users can even volunteer at an organization not listed on the site, and still get their hours verified.
“Once they are finished volunteering there, they just need to get the contact information of someone at the establishment who could verify their hours. They plug in the length of time, the work they did and the name of the establishment on the website. They click a button, the non-profit gets an email listing out everything plugged into the website, they click a button and boom, the website keeps track of those hours,” explained Sdao
The non-profit leaders then receive an email is for verification purposes, just to make sure the volunteer hours were done at an official non-profit organization.
This program helps non-profits all around the United States list volunteer opportunities in hopes of maximizing their turnout and the RACF hopes that local non-profits take advantage of this useful program.
“We hope that this is a tool that the non-profit organizations embrace and as they do that, more information about the program will be shared,” said Montgomery.