Every year, United Way of Larimer recognizes the importance of volunteering and honors the significant contribution of volunteers in our community throughout the month of April. We celebrate volunteerism through volunteer highlights, non-profit mini-grants, corporate volunteerism projects, and community education initiatives.
Non-profits across Larimer County have spoken: Our community needs more recurring volunteers. Non-profits need community partners able to invest in their organizations and give back on a regular basis.
CASA Community Engagement Specialist, Blake Barkoskie, is well-versed in the need for recurring volunteers. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) support children who have experienced abuse and neglect for 12-18 months during their court proceedings. Blake expressed immense gratitude for CASA volunteers, sharing that, “Our Court Appointed Special Advocates logged nearly 8,800 hours serving 287 children [in 2021] …It is not an easy role, but the impact they have on the child lasts a lifetime.”
Kimberly Shilke-Pinckney, Volunteer Coordinator at the Food Bank for Larimer County agreed. “Our recurring/committed volunteers have been crucial for helping our Food Shares stay open to serve our clients the food they need on the front lines… [This past year,] volunteers stepped up and used their own vehicles to deliver food to our Homebound clients when our Operations and Transport teams were running thin”
When asked if they needed more volunteers, Kimberly enthusiastically said yes. “Our Community Kitchen has depended greatly on our “Regulars” choosing to make thousands of meals each day for our expanded Kids’ Café Feeding program, which we will expand even further this summer.” Blake agreed. “Our CASAs provide a voice, a sense of stability, and a connection for vulnerable children. Our mission is possible due to the skills, time, and passion our volunteers provide.”
Vanessa Lewis, Resource Development Director at Partners echoed what Kimberly and Blake have noticed. “If we want to see positive, lasting change in our communities, we all need to commit to deeper engagement with the next generation. Becoming a volunteer mentor is the perfect way to do exactly that.” Partners currently has a waitlist of dozens of youth across Northern Colorado. They know the value of having a mentor and are willing to wait months for someone to volunteer, and the statistics have shown the importance of these mentors. After just one year in their mentoring programs, our community’s youth achieve:
- 70% increase in confidence
- 55% better bonding with adults
- 50% improvement in social skills
- 45% improvement in decision-making
This year, United Way of Larimer County’s National Volunteer Month is dedicated to celebrating committed volunteers in our community. We hope to activate community members and corporate partners to regularly volunteer for ongoing service projects throughout Larimer County—and we need your help!
Please consider signing up for a recurring volunteer project shift today. Some potential options include:
– Learn more about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
– Volunteer at an upcoming Food Bank of Larimer County shift
– Volunteer to be a mentor with Partners
Interested in learning more? Watch our virtual community panel with Blake, Kimberly, BIPOC Alliance, and OtterCares about recurring volunteerism, the state of volunteerism in Larimer County, and how you can give back in our community.