DAV Magazine — March/April 2018
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James W. Killen & Bryan Lett

New platform connects volunteers with the push of a button

Volunteerism is a cornerstone of the nonprofit world, and it is especially important within a group as deeply rooted in the spirit of service as veterans.

This year, DAV is proud to announce a new tool to help further infuse excitement into the organization’s volunteer efforts: a web-based community called Volunteer for Veterans, found at volunteerforveterans.org.

This platform makes it easy for individuals to give back by crowdsourcing volunteer opportunities through a searchable online database. Anyone in the United States can sign up and volunteer for our nation’s heroes, and veterans and caregivers who have a need for volunteers can also sign up and create job opportunities.

“This new site is a game-changer in the veteran community, because it links veterans from across the country with volunteers of all ages, regardless of their connection to the veteran community,” said Barry Jesinoski, executive director of DAV National Headquarters. “We frequently are asked by veterans for assistance that doesn’t fall into our traditional service programs. We’re also asked by volunteers how they can get involved and help. Here, we’re leveraging technology to crowdsource the challenges, great and small, that veterans face.”

Volunteer opportunities are based on location. Once a volunteer inputs their ZIP code into the search bar, a map will show all the volunteer opportunities available in that area. To protect privacy, the pin on the map will never link to a veteran’s or caregiver’s exact address. Instead, it will pinpoint opportunities based on the proximity of prospective volunteers.

Participating volunteers are recognized for their contributions. When they volunteer to help veterans, they accumulate ratings toward “trusted volunteer status” so they can assist those with unique needs.

Since February, DAV National Headquarters and its departments and chapters around the country have begun populating the site with volunteers and volunteer opportunities.

“We need a groundswell of participation from our members and volunteers to help drive this effort,” said Jesinoski. “You know the needs in your communities better than anyone, so Volunteer for Veterans really places the power in your hands to engage local volunteers who want to get involved.”

If a volunteer logs in to the site, creates a profile and finds that there are not enough opportunities in their specific area, they can help spread the word about Volunteer for Veterans by contacting local news channels and radio stations to help promote the site.

“Volunteer for Veterans is the total volunteer package,” said National Adjutant Marc Burgess. “There is something for everyone, and it has great potential to help so many veterans needing assistance.”

In addition to participation at the individual and community levels, DAV’s oldest corporate partner is getting involved. Ford Motor Co. is rolling out Volunteer for Veterans to its employees as part of its corporate volunteer program.

“DAV could not be more pleased that our longstanding and committed partner, the Ford Motor Co., will be involved in this project,” Burgess said. “With them onboard, it’s our hope that more companies will follow suit.”

DAV is inviting other corporate partners and volunteer communities to get involved with Volunteer for Veterans, as well.

Learn More Online

Visit volunteerforveterans.org to learn more, create a profile, nominate a veteran you know for assistance and volunteer. Be sure to check back often, as the site will update continuously with new information and could take time to spread to less-populated areas and suburbs.

Forward March!

Last year, DAV launched the Forward March campaign that, throughout the month of March, challenged those who have received help from DAV or benefited from a veteran’s sacrifice to say thank you by giving one hour of their time in volunteer service to a veteran in their community.

Forward March centers on using volunteers’ interests, abilities and talents to best serve their communities. Virtually anything that aids a local veteran can be considered a volunteer opportunity—from delivering groceries to assisting with yard work to spending an hour visiting a veteran in a nursing facility.

During that initial campaign, DAV was able to add another 100 volunteers, who contributed nearly an additional 2,300 hours of volunteer service to veterans in need—the importance of which cannot be overstated for the veterans who were helped.

This year, the introduction of Volunteer for Veterans aims to give the initiative an even bigger boost to promote volunteerism.

“With help from the new Volunteer for Veterans platform, we hope we’ll be able to further build on our Forward March success from last year,” said Voluntary Services Director John Kleindienst. “This tool will make it easier to match individuals with volunteer opportunities and easier to report hours through DAV’s Local Veterans Assistance Program.”

To take part in this year’s Forward March initiative, visit volunteerforveterans.org.