Features — 29 November 2012

New avenue for community organizations to connect to volunteers

Before a crowd of almost 100, a newcomer to Murray State University made a big announcement. Murray State is the first university in the nation to sponsor the website GetConnected, a platform for community organizations to connect to their volunteers. John Kelly, head of Galaxy Digital’s custom solutions team, made his first visit to western Kentucky to introduce the live website. The website, which will serve multiple local communities in western Kentucky, is funded through a mini-grant from Murray State’s office of regional outreach.

Kelly’s company tailored the desires of the United Ways of multiple area communities and Murray State University’s office of regional outreach into a perfect website for each entity. Along with Aaron Dail, executive director of United Way of Murray-Calloway County, and MSU Coordinator of Service Outreach Jennifer Revell, explained the goals of the program. Revell made it clear that the site is not a requirement for students, faculty or staff. Instead, she said, it’s a tool that fits the impressive outreach already going on at Murray State University.

Volunteers use the site like Facebook, Dail said. Sign up, select a photo and identify what skills, services or in-kind gifts to contribute. It’s as easy as that. Another highlight, especially for students of all learning levels, is an online volunteer résumé that’s generated by the GetConnected website. Whether preparing for a scholarship, internship or even a higher level employment opportunity, Dail said the volunteer résumé has the power to strengthen an application significantly.

Some community organizations, like MSU’s own Adventures in Math and Science (AIMS) office have already created their agency’s page. Personnel from myriad community organizations were on hand at the Tuesday afternoon launch to mentor others in creating their own agency’s site. Instead of waiting for word of mouth or phone calls from prospective volunteers, organizations can actively advertise their needs in a real time platform.

Revell will lead training sessions in the Murray State Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) lab on three different occasions. For more information on the trainings and on the site in general, visit the homepage at volunteer.murraystate.edu for the university site or volunteermurray.org for the local United Way site.

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