More than 316,000 Memphians volunteered throughout the community in 2013, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. And now, following a merger, the leading local organization in connecting volunteers with nonprofits is hoping to bolster those numbers by making volunteerism even easier.
Leadership Memphis announced earlier this month that it acquired Volunteer Mid-South, an organization that has connected people to volunteer opportunities over the past 40 years.
The acquisition has provided the nonprofit with a new name: Volunteer Memphis. And a facelift is soon to follow.
Leadership Memphis CEO David Williams said the acquisition would bring forth an expansion of Volunteer Mid-South's Corporate Volunteer Council (CVC), a group of business and corporate representatives who promote community volunteerism. The new venture will also provide specialized training for volunteer management and connect people, via the internet, to volunteer opportunities best suitable for their interests.
"I think the impact [of acquiring Volunteer Mid-South is] going to be profound in terms of advocacy and awareness for volunteers," Williams said. "We hope to create an easier way for people to connect and engage with their community through volunteerism, but also through volunteer leadership. Ask any nonprofit that relies on volunteers to help fulfill its mission, and they would be able to say how much those volunteers mean to them and the difference that they make in the community."
Leadership Memphis is presently meeting with stakeholders, CVC members, and nonprofits to establish stronger methods to increase recruitment of organizations that rely heavily on volunteers for sustainability.
Leadership Memphis plans to assign a full-time director to Volunteer Memphis by March. Additional staff will be provided sometime thereafter.
By acquiring Volunteer Mid-South, Leadership Memphis has now become the local affiliate for Points of Light. The international volunteer movement serves as a hub to connect people globally to opportunities offered by nonprofits within their communities. Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush established Points of Light in 1990.
At the Mid-South Food Bank, volunteers help stock shelves in the organization's Agency Mart, fill backpacks with meals for children, prepare and serve meals in the Kids Café, and assist with administrative duties.
Last year alone, around 11,000 people contributed approximately 40,000 hours of services to the Food Bank.
"Our volunteers are vital to what we do," said Paula Rushing, manager of volunteer services at the Food Bank. "We have a very limited staff. We could not do this work without our volunteers."
The Food Bank provides those impacted by food insecurity with nourishing meals, education, and advocacy. Each week, a reported 21,000 people rely on the nonprofit.
Like the Food Bank, the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County receives assistance from volunteers. Locals help with building maintenance, walking dogs, cat socialization, administrative work, and arranging and orchestrating fund-raising events.
"We really couldn't do everything without the help of our volunteers," said Linda Larrabee, volunteer manager at the Humane Society. "We probably have 250 volunteers at any given time. We run strictly on donations from the community. We're limited in our staff. They help us get our animals adopted, keep our building cleaned, and provide foster homes to animals. They really are invaluable to us."