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United Way Blog

Skills & Volunteering: A Winning Combination

Skills-based volunteering – using professional or other skills in service to others – is a hot topic.  As I wrote a few weeks ago, new research from America’s Charities found that more than 70 percent of those surveyed expect future employee volunteer programs to include skills-based volunteering.

Lots of United Ways offer opportunities for individuals and groups to use their skills to help others.

For instance, Heart of West Michigan United Way is making a concerted effort to engage corporate employees in skilled volunteering. In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, United Way partnered with three companies in the Grand Rapids, MI area to host a health and fitness event for about 70 students at Cedar Springs Middle School. The event started with a warm-up and stretch session led by volunteers from Centers for Physical Rehabilitation. Then, players from the NBA-development team Grand Rapids Drive led some of the students in a basketball clinic, while Centers for Physical Rehabilitation trainers led others in a group exercise class. Afterwards, students cooled down and learned from Heeren Brothers produce distributors about the best post-workout snacks and healthy eating and devoured the fresh apples and bananas donated by the company.

The event sparked a lot of enthusiasm for additional collaborations. United Way has already connected Centers for Physical Rehabilitation to another middle school to plan a student running club and parent exercise class there.

Whether you are good at basketball or basket-weaving, at reading or writing, sharing your skills can change a life. Contact your local United Way to learn how.