Marshfield Clinic’s Center for Community Outreach (CCO) will soon increase its support of volunteerism throughout Wisconsin to better connect people with opportunities to help others.
CCO was awarded $75,000 through the Volunteer Generation Grant, “Volunteer Wisconsin,” to help nonprofit organizations, agencies and volunteer centers better coordinate efforts and make it easier for people to get involved. Marshfield Clinic is responsible for managing the third year of the three-year grant.
“Our goal is to continue the excellent progress that Volunteer Wisconsin has made these past two years in building a connector agency in Wisconsin for all things volunteer,” said Brian Blahnik, CCO program manager. “We intend to do this through our continued collaboration with Marshfield Clinic community partners, volunteer centers, National & Community Service programs, government and corporations.”
CCO leaders plan to develop a pool of resources for organizations in need of information emphasizing the value of volunteering. For instance, they’ll create one-stop shopping for up-to-date statistics, how to publicize volunteer opportunities and build relationships with various organizations.
The grant also allows CCO to help counties lacking volunteer centers find ways to better connect with people interested in giving their time. One way is through volunteerwisconsin.org, a website that connects volunteers with opportunities, Blahnik said.
The federal grant funds were dispersed through Serve Wisconsin. The state agency’s primary function is to provide funding to organizations that involve citizens in service activities that meet human, educational, environmental, public safety and homeland security needs.
“Opportunities such as this one are very important to the future of health care,” said Dr. Brian Ewert, Marshfield Clinic president. “Volunteerism within communities helps reinforce the overall effort of Marshfield Clinic to support strong communities that foster healthy, successful children, adults and families.”
A key component of Volunteer Wisconsin is to bring groups together to make volunteer efforts as efficient and effective as possible, all with the goal of spurring more people to get involved, Blahnik said.
For instance, a number of organizations deal with emergency management. CCO wants to find ways to partner with those organizations to make sure systems are in place to help quickly find volunteers during a local emergency.
Wisconsin has a rich history of volunteerism. Nearly 34 percent of Wisconsin residents volunteered in 2011, contributing more than 154 million hours of their time and $3.4 billion worth of service, according to the most recent data. Wisconsin has the 10th highest volunteer rate among all states.
Blahnik wants to build on that number, giving people more opportunities to help in their communities. He said the benefit to volunteering is twofold. That’s because volunteers, while helping others, have a 27 percent higher chance of finding a job after being out of work. Volunteers who live in a rural area have a 55 percent better chance of finding a job than those who don’t volunteer, according to a 2013 federal study.
CCO will hire a health educator to oversee day-to-day operations and work with partner agencies.
“We want to sustain this type of work through Marshfield Clinic, to become a leader in the volunteer world since that’s so important to our communities,” Blahnik said.
For more information, call Blahnik at 715-221-8400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.