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October 13, 2016
Imagine volunteering for an organization that makes a big impact on the community. Knowing that your service and hard work can be put into changing someone’s life or the community for the better. Would it be helping clean up at local schools, tidying public places that others enjoy visiting, or helping someone in need? Make a Difference Day volunteers have been changing Larimer County for the past 17 years.
United Way of Larimer County, which is a nonprofit organization devoted to help those affected by poverty, hosts Make a Difference Day. United Way has become one of the largest volunteer services in Northern Colorado that strives to help those in need or environmental focused projects. Make a Difference Day has a large impact on not only people or environments that need support, but also the staff at United Way of Larimer County. “Make a Difference Day is an important part of the culture of Northern Colorado that is dedicated to service and giving back to the community,” says Rebecca Toll, Director of Community Building at United Way of Larimer County.
Individuals all over Larimer County are encouraged to volunteer, support, and be the difference. Since it has become a large volunteer event in Northern Colorado, it has grown into a week-long volunteer opportunity for everyone to participate in. Make a Difference Day shifted into a week-long event quite some time ago, according to Toll, because there was so much interest from the community in participating in a project. “A day would not work for the amount of support and need we had in the community,” she says.
According to United Way of Larimer County, in October 2015 1,830 volunteers came out to support 94 different projects in Larimer County. Once again, they are expecting thousands of volunteers to donate their time to numerous projects around Larimer County this 2016 season. Make a Difference Day will be starting on October 17, and will continue through the 23rd. This event will be going into its 18th year encouraging volunteering, philanthropic opportunities, and helping others.
Shantel Rizzotto, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at United Way of Larimer County is going to be an ambassador at Make a Difference Day this year. She will be greeting volunteers, giving volunteers an idea of what they will be doing, and taking pictures. “ You are dedicating your time to give back to community. You get so busy working and doing family stuff you don’t make the time to give back and volunteer. It is a really good feeling at the end of the day,” Rizzotto says.
United Way of Larimer County staff is the only group that fills the ambassador roles. “I love the ambassador roles that the United Way staff plays. Getting out in front of different volunteer projects and connecting with others is really fun,” says Toll.
Make a Difference Day has many volunteer opportunities that are going to be encouraged throughout the week. The first is with United Way’s Generation United. Generation United is a young leaders society bringing about philanthropic power of a young community. This year, Generation United will host a volunteer opportunity to clean up and tidy the Early Childhood Education Center and property at La Familia. The goal of this is to gather volunteers committed to making this property look organized and clean with the help of young professional volunteers.
This is Generation United’s large volunteer opportunity with Make a Difference Day, so United Way staff is hopeful it will make others more aware of Generation United. “As a Generation United member I’ve been really inspired to get to know and network with other young professionals who are like-minded in the fact that they want to give back to their community,” says Leah Johnson, a Generation United member.
A couple other sites with volunteer opportunities during Make a Difference Day are the Dragonfly Lair Restoration project, Thompson Valley Preschool Inc., and Poudre River Public Library District. The Dragonfly Lair is essentially an outdoor classroom for students and a place where children can play. This project is looking for volunteers to put in new plants, weed, remove unwanted materials from the property, and work on the dock that is nearby. The Thompson Valley Preschool Inc. in Loveland is seeking volunteers to rake leaves, clean flowerbeds, and tidy up of the playground to make a safe environment for the children. The goal is to make the schools in Larimer County in good shape for those attending school. As mentioned above, the Poudre River Public Library District is another volunteer opportunity during Make a Difference Day. The Council Tree Library is searching for residents to clean objects such as, shelves, tables, and computers in the library to support their nice facility. Along with these great opportunities, there are about 60 other projects that are still looking for devoted volunteers in Larimer County.
According to Rizzotto, Make a Difference Day is a historical event that is right around the holidays so it is nice to know that this is a yearly time to give back. “Make a Difference Day is important because it’s an opportunity for people to give back in the community, to understand the needs in their community; and here at United Way we feel everybody has something to contribute,” she says.
Although these are just a few of the opportunities, there are many more positions that are looking to be filled by eager volunteers looking to serve the Larimer County community. “It is a way for our community to come together and volunteer and give time for a couple hours to make a difference that is bigger than themselves,” says Erin Zimmermann, Community Impact Director of United Way of Larimer County.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County