Website designed to connect volunteers in our community
by PHILLIP WILLIAMS
Jun 15, 2014 | 1065 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler told the Gilmer Rotary Club on Tuesday about a website called JustServe.org, which has been created to “help volunteers find something they can do in their community.”

Numerous local institutions are on the website, which is aimed at connecting civic organizations, non-profit groups, governmental agencies, and churches, the judge told the meeting at the Gilmer Civic Center. Those seeking volunteer opportunities can go to the website to contact any of numerous organizations listed there, which range from the Upshur County Library and Gilmer Elementary School to the Upshur County Food Pantry.

Although built and sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the website contains no church doctrine, said Fowler, himself a Latter-day Saint. In fact, he said, the only time it mentions the church is in the copyright listing at the bottom, and other churches are encouraged to list their projects on it.

The website is designed for “everyone in the community” to see what volunteer activities are available, he said, assuring that those using JustServe.org to volunteer would not have Mormon missionaries knocking on their door, nor someone calling them to invite them to church.

“It’s based on the basic principle that Jesus Christ taught that we should be of service in our community,” Fowler said. The website offers opportunities to ease suffering, help the poor and needy, and enhance the quality of life in the community.

The judge urged the Rotarians to look at the site to “see what it’s all about,” and, secondly, to contact either him, or Leslie Pilcher at the Bombshell Salon, if they know of a group which needs volunteers. Either he or Ms. Pilcher can list the organization on the website, he said.

Other than those already mentioned, some Upshur County groups accepting volunteers through the site include Historic Upshur Museum, the Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Gilmer Parks, AG-Producers and 4-H (both associated with the county Extension Service), Upshur County Literacy Program, Gilmer Care Center, Upshur Manor nursing home, Wesley House assisted living center, Camp Gilmont, and the Windridge Therapeutic Equestrian Center.

Also utilizing the website is the Women’s Center of East Texas.

“We know (that) like maybe three people volunteered at the library last month” as a result of the approximately 1 1/2-year-old website, said Fowler. That institution’s listing on the site will state that the County Commissioners Court reduced its funding “due to budget constraints,” and will show what volunteers can do while also giving contact information, he said.

The judge additionally noted that volunteers for the elementary school must undergo a background check.

The website lists two kinds of projects—“one-time” annual events like the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society, and year-round projects, Fowler noted. One-time and annual projects are not listed year-round.

Fowler gave the Rotarians a handout sheet showing how to use the site. The instructions are to go to www.JustServe.org, and click on “register” at the top right. Or, if someone uses Facebook, he/she can click on “Facebook Connect” to be registered automatically through his/her Facebook account.

An alternative for Facebook users is to create a user account by clicking on REGISTER WITH JUSTSERVE. The person can fill in the necessary information, agree to the privacy terms, and click FINISH.

“Check your email for instructions to activate your JustServe account. Once you activate your account, you will be able to find projects and volunteer,” the instruction sheet said.

To actually volunteer for a project, the sheet added, one should sign in to his/her JustServe account and click PROJECTS. Then, “To view projects near you, enter your city, the project name or zip code in the ‘Search Text’ box. For full project details, click on the project name. Click VOLUNTEER to agree to serve, or follow the additional volunteer instructions for the project.

“If you need to cancel your appointment, click UNVOLUNTEER to remove yourself from the project. Remember that when you volunteer, the organization will count on you! Please notify them as soon as possible if you cannot participate in their project,” the instructions concluded.

Rotarian Steve Stewart, who asked Fowler to present the program, introduced the judge.

Also at Tuesday’s Rotary luncheon, club President Rick Albritton announced the club had voted to move its meeting place to the Walking ‘S’ Steak House outside of Gilmer, effective in July.

Bradley Ellison, a paralegal with Tefteller Law, was inducted as a new member after being introduced by Rotarian Steve Dean. Ellison detailed his background of 21 1/2 years in the military, noting he had guarded nuclear missiles and been a drill sergeant.

Dean also introduced the club’s nominee for Queen Yam of this October’s Yamboree festival, Lauren Haylee Jones.
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