ReneeMoe black and white small fileVolunteers are the soul of United Way. Every decision made is formed by and discussed with volunteers. Does engaging the community with and through volunteers slow things down and add complexity? Sure. But we believe wholeheartedly that United Way exists by the community and for the community, and volunteer involvement is a critical and irreplaceable asset in making long-term change happen in Dane County. It is through diversity of experience and points of view that we can understand more fully the challenging issues we are working to address, and collectively identify how we can create change that sticks.

This month is National Volunteer Month across America, an excellent reason to reflect on the leadership and diversity volunteers embed in United Way’s work. On behalf of the Board and staff, I’d like to THANK all of our volunteers for their time, experience and leadership – whether working to end homelessness for families, running an employee campaign, digging into financial statements, or answering 2-1-1 calls for help. Staff promise to bring our A game, and it’s the volunteers who ensure the work and outcomes are A+. Check out our Volunteer Recognition booklet online! We are better because of you.

In 2015, 923 volunteers served on 57 United Way committees – their total contribution of time was 39,000 hours! In our community, 20,219 volunteers provided more than 437,000 additional hours of service to United Way partner non-profits. In total, that is a $10,981,320 value. That is a powerful testament to the willingness of our community to roll up its sleeves and collaboratively tackle our most challenging local human issues.

We honor and recognize the importance of volunteers at United Way and across the community. And, we are working to build out our community’s volunteer capacity through workplace volunteerism and the Business Volunteer Network, youth volunteerism and leadership, non-profit volunteer management capacity building, and – in development – a new online volunteerism platform that we hope to unveil later this year.

This month, we’ll be celebrating volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 10-16. On April 15, 16 and 17, more than 4,000 Dane County youth will participate in Global Youth Service Day. Then, on April 20, we will honor 74 volunteer nominees and 11 awardees who dedicate their volunteer time and passion toward creating a Dane County where everyone can succeed in school, work and life.

To all of you who volunteer, thank you. To all of you who manage and support volunteers, thank you. To those of you who are looking to volunteer, check out to find a volunteer project that is perfect for you.