Volunteer WV
Volunteer WV

Blog: Two More Volunteer Centers Are Stepping Up in West Virginia


Two More Volunteer Centers Are Stepping Up in West Virginia

"Ripley is a bedroom community and bedroom communities don’t usually surface as a hub of anything. But we take care of ourselves. We have to," said Sally Blessing, Executive Director of Main Street Ripley, one of the organizations that stepped up to become a Volunteer Center in West Virginia. 

"Main Street is a program that helps prevent downtowns from becoming empty buildings. Prior to getting this grant, most volunteer opportunities focused on economic growth. By bringing a lot of volunteer opportunities from the surrounding area together in one place, we’re helping everyone. This eliminates territorialism," said Blessing.

Blessing added that she hopes this hub rises to the top, above Instagram and Facebook, as a place everyone will go to look for opportunities. "I think the easier you make it for someone to volunteer, the more likely they'll do it. People are so busy these days, but if they can get home from work and sit down with their laptop or iPad, and check out the list of opportunities, it’s a lot easier." She also talked about the convenience for both agencies and volunteers with regards to logging volunteer hours. 

The Alpine Theatre is just one of many of their partners posting their volunteer opportunities on Main Street Ripley’s new site, powered by Galaxy Digital. To see the interview with Sally Blessing, click here.

Fayette County Family Resource Network (FRN) is another organization that stepped up to be a Volunteer Center in West Virginia, calling themselves "Fayette Connected". This is the perfect name for what they do. Diane Callison, Executive Director of the Fayette County FRN explained that one of the responsibilities of an FRN is to identify service gaps and to provide those services if no other organization does. 

Staci Boggs, Volunteer Coordinator for Fayette Connected, has helped groups get their emails set up so they can use the virtual volunteer center. Boggs says she has noticed an increase in the number of volunteers and hours counted. She promotes their volunteer opportunities at schools and job fairs because both are a great place to recruit volunteers. They have a variety of opportunities that run the gamut from working with animals to literacy education. To hear more about Fayette Connected, click here.

Bringing HOPE to the West Side and Beyond Through Mentoring

Earlier this year, Rev. Matthew Watts appeared on Volunteer West Virginia's TV show to talk about the activities of HOPE Community Development Corporation. The mentoring program is based on a system called "TALKS." TALKS is an acronym for Transferring a Little Knowledge Systematically. The system is based on a book by Dr. Harold Davis. He wrote the book while working at a school, where he encountered the Principal, clutching two children with whom she was clearly frustrated. She asked "Reverend Davis, the proverb says it takes a village to raise the children. I’ve got the children, where’s the village?" Mr. Davis had great talks with his father, but he realized, talking to his friends, that that was not the case for everyone. From that, he created "Talks my Father Never Had with Me."

"The church remains the epicenter of the African-American community and is the place where African-Americans learn leadership," said Rev. Watts. That is why they were originally established as church-based mentoring programs. 
"This didn’t quite take off as he expected, but one day, a neighbor at the mailbox saw his book and asked to borrow it. Afterward, he explained he was a school principle and he wanted to use the curriculum in his school. However, there was too much church-based information in it, which was a hindrance." Watts explained. So, Davis rewrote it. One book for church use, one for school use. Then some of the female teachers asked, "what about the girls?" They need a positive role model in their lives too. So his wife wrote "Talks my Mother Never Had with Me."

The mentoring program requires a minimum of an hour a week and is seeking volunteers. To learn more, click here.

Contact Information

Lisa Tignor, Lisa.A.Tignor@wv.gov