Have you ever had the inclination to do some community service but didn’t know where to start? Is your non-profit organization overwhelmed with a service project and in need of volunteers? KPFT Houston, Texas Radio 90.1 FM host Mercy Richard with her recent guests, Kathryn Ashby and Linda Hayes, discussed JustServe.org in Richard’s outreach show MercyHouse. Ashby and Hayes are both Community Outreach Volunteers in the Houston area.
JustServe.org is a web based project/volunteer matching service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at no charge. It facilitates the process of people getting involved in community service. Begun in 2012, this free clearinghouse for locally based service projects of all kinds allows volunteers who are looking to make a difference in their communities find projects/organizations to connect with. Also, faith-based organizations, non-profits, community, and government organizations can use the JustServe.org website to post their needs for participants.
Hayes, who has participated in JustServe.org projects with her family, shared details of volunteering with a local food bank with listeners. “Even though the rain was pouring on the Saturday, the volunteers served faithfully. It was a large drive in spite of the weather. Everyone ended up soaked, but they hardly noticed it because of the opportunity to serve. Once the drive began the grateful faces of those receiving the food truly blessed their lives for good,” Hays said.
Ashby added, “Earlier this summer, when we were just getting started in the Houston area with JustServe.org, Bethesda Lutheran Community in Tomball submitted their need for teenage youth volunteers to spend one week – day and night – at their Bible camp assisting and being a friend to an adult with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Hearing from some of these volunteer youth after the event, they felt great purpose in befriending and meeting the needs of the camp attendees, and expressed that serving there had been a life-changing experience for each of them.”
Hayes reported around 200 projects are currently posted on the Website in the Houston area. “JustServe.org has been helpful in finding volunteers for area libraries, schools, museums, parks, churches, seniors, hospitals, food banks, meals on wheels, community cleanups and beautification projects, clothing drives, blood drives, and Special Olympics. JustServe.org has also been introduced to some of the area Universities and is being used to find volunteer opportunities for the student body,” Hayes said.
Ashby and Hayes educated listeners on how to get started on JustServe.org. “You can ‘Create an Account’ using your zip code and Email or you can ‘Sign in with Facebook’. Rest assured that registering on JustServe.org will not lead to third party solicitations and your information will be kept confidential. You may search for a project by using zip code, city or state,” Hayes said.
Volunteer simply go to the JustServe.org website and will find projects listed by date, geographic area, by organization and even category of projects like education, environment or people.
A random search for available projects on Saturday November 7 found 126 service opportunities on that day alone. Projects can accommodate groups, individuals or families and are suitability for different age groups.
This self-help service allows volunteers to simply visit the site, select a project and then connect directly with that project’s contact person if they have any questions.
“You can SHARE project information from JustServe.org using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Email. There is also an APP that can be downloaded from the APP Store or Google Play for use on iPhone, iPad and all Android devices,” added Ashby.
MercyHouse, the weekly public radio show created by Mercy Richard, highlights resources and information on what’s out in the community, especially for those surviving domestic violence, abuse, human trafficking and sexual assault. To her, JustServe.org is a valuable resource in fighting these conditions. “Most of the time, when you have domestic violence and abuse, it is because the woman or man is in the house 24/7, and doesn’t have anywhere to go. That loneliness builds up. But with a program like JustServe.org, they can go out and see what is happening in the community. They can take some time and just go volunteer in the community. They can make friends, meet people, that way they can also reach out and speak to somebody about their concerns. They can get to know their neighbors,” Richards said.
Anthony Cox, Office Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for KPFT, listener -supported public radio, was impressed with the concept of JustServe.org. “I believe that one of the things we should do is create opportunities for others,” he said.
Richard closed the broadcast segment underscoring, “Societies and communities benefit when the people living within those communities spend time rendering service there. Residents tend to feel different about their community when they’ve got some of their own time and effort invested. We believe they become better places to live. JustServe.org strives to facilitate that process.”