Volunteer Southeast Mississippi Asks Residents, Organizations to ‘Get Connected’

Have you ever had the desire to get involved with charities in your local community but had no idea where to start? After all, there are countless charitable organizations and groups throughout our area with different purposes and missions. How on Earth are you supposed to figure out which ones align with your own passions and interests or which might need help the most?

On the flipside, maybe you’re a nonprofit or charitable group in desperate need for volunteers who have a heart for giving back but you don’t know how to find those people.

United Way of Southeast Mississippi has created a way for volunteers and nonprofits to connect - through its volunteer center, Volunteer Southeast Mississippi. Formerly known as Volunteer Hattiesburg, Volunteer Southeast Mississippi (VSEMS) serves as a hub connecting volunteers and charitable organizations.

Half-Marathon Volunteers
Pictured from left are VSEMS volunteers working a banana and water station at the Hattiesburg Half-Marathon/10K/5K in April 2021: Stancey Collins of Hattiesburg, Paris Morris of Petal, Vanessa Henson of Hattiesburg, Corita Burks of Hattiesburg, Jasmine Smith of Hattiesburg and Chelsea Jones of Hattiesburg.

“Volunteer Southeast Mississippi acts as a liaison between community volunteers and nonprofit partners to assist with strategic community outreach efforts,” says VSEMS Director Ali Rogers. “We help individuals and groups find volunteer opportunities that match their interests and skills while helping local nonprofits recruit volunteers.”

Through our center, volunteers can get involved in their communities, and nonprofits can be connected with people, know-how and the resources they need to create positive change.”

VSEMS serves Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Perry, Jones, Wayne and Greene counties. Rogers says volunteers are essential to local nonprofits and, therefore, the community as a whole.

“For local nonprofits across the Pine Belt, volunteers truly are the heartbeat of their organization. Without their selfless devotion to these organizations, these nonprofits wouldn’t be able to do the work that they do in our communities.”

One of the ways VSEMS helps to connect volunteers and nonprofits who need them is through Get Connected, a free online platform where individuals looking to volunteer and organizations needing an extra hand can meet in the middle. According to Rogers, the site enables organizations within their community to easily promote opportunities, needs and events. Local volunteers can then browse existing needs and register for service opportunities that match their own interests. 

Carolyn Rothery, volunteer
Longtime UW volunteer Carolyn Rothery of Hattiesburg

“At VSEMS, we use Get Connected to promote volunteer opportunities and events that are happening within our service area,” says Rogers. “We encourage community members to create a profile on our Get Connected site and browse the local nonprofits who are present on our site. This is a great way to connect with local nonprofits and to stay informed on the current volunteer needs within our community.”

This week, the center is using Get Connected to recruit volunteers for a cleanup event at Duncan Lake in Hattiesburg on Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to 12 Noon. The event, which is part of the Keep America Beautiful© Great American Cleanup© campaign is a partnership with the Piney Woods Conservation Group, Area Development Partnership, City of Hattiesburg and Mississippi Inland Cleanup Program.

“This will be a great opportunity for people to get outside with their family or friends and show a little love for our local community. Get Connected helps to make the volunteer signup process easy – for both volunteers and organizers,” says Rogers.

But she says whether it’s a large event or a smaller project, any nonprofit, charitable group or church could benefit from using Get Connected.

Click HERE for steps on how volunteers and organizations can set up a free Get Connected account. For more on how Volunteer Southeast Mississippi can help you as a volunteer or an organization, call 601-475-0217.