Learn how volunteer centers in Eastern Iowa foster a community of growth and giving back.
You’ve probably heard our mission before: United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) fights for the education, financial stability, and health of every person in our community. But, how exactly do we do this? In addition to helping our community through funding area nonprofit programs, we also help by supporting and providing volunteer opportunities where communities needs them most. UWECI works with three volunteer centers in our five-county service area to not only promote giving back, but foster the development of programs and community growth so everyone can thrive.
In general, volunteer centers do four main things: promote volunteerism, build capacity for local volunteering, stay informed on issues and challenges related to volunteering, and connect people with opportunities to serve. Whether you’re a life-long volunteer or looking to volunteer for the first time, volunteer centers work to engage all ages in services to help make Eastern Iowa a place where everyone can thrive.
The Jones County Volunteer Center (JCVC) offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for people who want to volunteer regularly or just occasionally. JCVC participates in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, where volunteers prepare free tax returns for low-income families. Without these volunteers, many individuals and families would not be able to get the most out of their tax refunds each year.
Along with increasing financial stability in our area, JCVC has a transportation program for elderly citizens who need rides to and from non-emergency medical appointments. Last year, volunteers traveled more than 66,700 miles to appointments, which is equal to 2.6 times around the earth. JCVC also hosts days of service, provides emergency volunteer training, and supplies food pantries in Jones County with volunteers.
Benton County Volunteer Program (BCVP) also has medical transportation assistance available for those who need transportation services to medical appointments. Along with this, BCVP works to make sure residents have access to quality, nutritious food through the SHARE Iowa Food Distribution program. Having enough food is especially difficult during the holidays. BCVP distributes food baskets throughout the year, but is especially active around the holidays.
The common thread of helping elderly adults continues in Cedar County. Through Volunteer Services of Cedar County, frail and elderly adults are able to receive personalized transportation services. These services allow individuals to remain in their home, as long as it is safe and in their best interest.
While each center has similar programs, volunteer centers are always looking for individuals to sign up and help in any way they can. As with all volunteer opportunities, there’s something for everyone, no matter their age or how much time they can give back to volunteering.