“We’ve received over $20,000 worth of volunteer service” said Gail Wright, of Monterey Bay Horsemanship and Therapeutic Center. “The volunteers have been a wonderful and invaluable resource for us.”
Gail is speaking of the, “Give a Day, Get a Day” program, where Disney, in partnership with the HandsOn Network, hoped to engage one million Americans in service to their community by offering a free pass to one of their theme parks in exchange for a day of their time to a local agency. On Tuesday, March 9th, Disney annouced they had given away their millionth free pass. Inspiring one million volunteers nationwide took a mere ten weeks.
Here in Santa Cruz, over 1,800 eager volunteers registered to serve at one of the many service projects put on by eleven Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County partner agencies. Since January, residents have done everything from get their hands dirty in compost at the Homeless Garden Project’s compost constrution, to sorting donated food at the Food Bank, to binding new children’s books generously donated by Bookshop Santa Cruz at Beach Flats Community Center.
Many folks were serving their community for the first time, and the Volunteer Center received innumerable positive comments from folks who had a such great time that they have chosen to continue serving Santa Cruz with the agency they volunteered for. The HandsOn Network hoped the program would spark a “life-long service journey,” especially for first time volunteers.
Santa Cruz has much to be proud of, with several hundred non-profits in the county in addition to one of the top ten largest Volunteer Centers in the US.
“Volunteers are essential to keeping our community’s non-profits and public services running,” said Christine Loewe of the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz. “Many programs simply could not exist without willing community members sharing their time and talents.”
Finding a volunteer opportunity that suits your interest, skills and talents is quick and easy. The Volunteer Center maintains an online database of volunteer opportunities through 1-800-Volunteer.org. Santa Cruz County volunteers and non-profit organizations can easily find each other by visiting scvoluntercenter.org and clicking the ‘Volunteer Now’ box on the right hand side. There are 240 agencies registered in Santa Cruz County offering over 300 volunteer opportunities to interested community members. Opportunities range from one-day projects to highly skilled long-term volunteer positions.