February 27, 2015 Leave a Comment
A guest post by Volunteer Kalamazoo Board President, Terry Morrow
“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – JFK Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961
In the early 1960s, volunteerism began to gain traction in Kalamazoo. The Community Services Council (predecessor to the United Way) asked the Service Club (predecessor to the Junior League) to conduct a survey on the possible need for a Volunteer Bureau in Kalamazoo. The Council believed that there was an unmet need for centralized volunteer effort, and that the strength of volunteers was going untapped. The Service Club team of Rita Plantefaben, Betsy Maxon, Nancy Woodworth and Betty Stryker spent a year studying the issue, surveying agencies, determining potential structure, and interviewing existing Volunteer Bureaus. At the conclusion of the study, the Service Club team recommended that no effort be made to establish a Volunteer Bureau at that time, based on the consistent opinion from agencies that other needs are more urgent, including the need for more paid staff.
However, that was not the end of the story – it was just the beginning. The times changed and with the call to volunteer referenced in JFK’s Inaugural speech, the Service Club prepared another study – entitled “How to Organize and Run a Volunteer Bureau.” And, in 1965, 50 years ago, the Volunteer Bureau opened its doors on a part-time basis, staffed by as well as funded by the Service Club in space donated by the Community Services Council for a three-year pilot project. From these beginnings, Volunteer Kalamazoo grew and flourished. Today, we have over 700 volunteer opportunities listed on our website and work with over 300 nonprofit partners. Last year, volunteers gave $3.5 million in service back to the Kalamazoo community. We are proud of our long tradition in Kalamazoo and look forward to the next 50 years as we build the capacity of local volunteering, connect volunteers with nonprofit organizations, and promote volunteerism. Please join me in pledging your support for the next 50 years by making a donation to our 50 for 50 campaign – an effort to raise an additional $50,000 to support volunteerism. Your gift of $50, $500 or even $5,000 will help continue the rich history and legacy of volunteerism in Kalamazoo.
Terry is the Executive Director of Bronson Health Foundation. Terry brings a wealth of fundraising and nonprofit management experience and has led numerous multi-million dollar capital campaigns for various different religious organizations, medical foundations and institutions of higher education throughout the Midwest and the Northeastern US. Terry has served as a volunteer for the WMU Mentor Program, the YMCA and Seton Catholic High School in Vancouver, WA.