Philly’s new Mayor’s Volunteer Corps program wants to make it easier to find service opportunitiesSeptember 20, 2018 Category: Featured, Medium, Purpose
DisclosuresUpdate: The number of volunteer hours overseen by the office in fiscal year 2017 has been added to this story. (9/21, 5:20 p.m.)
The Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service (OCEVS) led by Chief Service Officer Stephanie Reid is piloting a program this fall aimed at creating a community of Philadelphians interested in volunteering.
The Mayor’s Volunteer Corps (MVC) will connect those who sign up on its platform with volunteer opportunities at local nonprofits and city agencies that support Mayor Jim Kenney’s policy priorities, such as community-based education and literacy, cleaning and greening, and food and housing security, as well as special events like Philly Free Streets — which this year hosted about 80 such volunteers, Reid (née Monahon) said in an interview — or Wawa Welcome America.
Those who participate and volunteer for at least 100 hours will be recognized at the annual Mayor’s Day of Service in the spring.
The program will kick off on Oct. 1, when MVC will list tailored opportunities on its Volunteer Match site and introduce a place where those registered with the MVC program can track their hours. The online infrastructure will be further developed according to participants’ feedback, Reid said.
Reid said she read up on similar programs in cities such as Los Angeles to learn best practices. She was inspired to start one here, though, because “we have a lot of people who come to us and want to volunteer,” and at the same time, “we get a lot of requests [for volunteers] internally in the city that I think are really interesting.” She wanted a more streamlined way to connect those groups.
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“I really just see this as being responsive” to the social impact community’s needs, she said, and “lowering barriers” to service.
Reid said that with just a soft launch, over 200 people have already signed up.
OCEVS also assists likeminded organizations that convene volunteers. That includes Volunteering Untapped PHL, the social group that matches young Philadelphians with small nonprofits in need once per month (and ends each volunteer outing with drinks nearby): The office roped their team into existing Free Streets plans, adding helpful hands to a big event and fulfilling both missions.
“I think it’s important that whatever we do adds value to the volunteer infrastructure that already exists,” Reid said.
The office oversaw 147,801 volunteer hours from July 2017 to June 2018, according to a staffer.