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story.lead_photo.caption The United Way of Central Missouri launched its new volunteer platform, United Way Volunteer Connection, on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, as an easy way to find volunteer opportunities in the nine-county service area. UWVC can be found at unitedwaycemo.galaxydigital.com. Photo by Jason Strickland / News Tribune.

The United Way of Central Missouri launched its new volunteer platform, United Way Volunteer Connection, on Tuesday.

UWVC is a one-stop online shop for anyone requiring volunteers in the United Way's nine-county service area.

The organization serves Cole, Camden, Maries, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage, Phelps and southern Callaway counties.

Through the UWVC, pre-approved community partners of the United Way may post volunteer opportunities. And individuals or teams may sign up for volunteer opportunities that fit their specific interests and availability, according to a United Way news release.

United Way President Ann Bax said in order to get an organization pre-approved to post volunteer opportunities, people must call the United Way office at 573-636-4100 and speak to Operations Specialist Tabatha Brightwell.

"We won't just let anyone post on the site," Bax said. "But we have not turned anyone down yet."

One nonprofit, who is not a United Way partner, wished to use the site. The director of the nonprofit uses her own cellphone as its primary phone number. And she runs it out of her home.

"One of our guidelines is that you have to have a physical location. We were able to waive that," Bax said.

To post volunteer opportunities or to sign up for an opportunity, visit the UWVC site.

"United Way of Central Missouri understands the importance of volunteerism in our community, and sees this as a critical component of our work, to connect caring individuals with organizations who rely and thrive with the help of selfless people giving their time to help others," the release stated. "Volunteering strengthens communities and gives people the opportunity to change lives, often their own."

The United Way will host its annual Days of Caring on Sept. 9-10. The event is held in conjunction with the nonprofit's community campaign, which raises money for 28 partner agencies.

Through Days of Caring, volunteers get rare opportunities to see United Way partners up close, and provide labor to accomplish tasks the agencies can't perform for themselves.

"Days of Caring has been two days of volunteering linked to a (fundraising) campaign for the United Way network," Bax said. "We find that our businesses really like to give their employees a chance to get out and help their partner agencies.

"We were very strategic in how we rolled this out — timed it to coincide with the campaign," she said.

When businesses' employees volunteer to work at a United Way partner agency (or any agency), they may build interest in that nonprofit, once they see its work, she said.

Sign-up for Days of Caring is already underway on the UWVC site.

"United Way's Volunteer Connection will streamline the process so those seeking volunteers and those volunteers seeking opportunities to serve in our community have one place to go," Bax said.

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