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Volunteering to Sustain Cape Cod
If there is one indicator of the
quality of life in any region that best defines it, it's volunteerism.
And if there is one segment of life on Cape Cod that is at times
overlooked as an essential underpinning of our community, it's the
nonprofit sector. Although clearly recognized both as a provider of wide-ranging
services to people and as an advocate of social concerns, the
nonprofit sector is less often credited as a significant employer,
purchaser of goods and services, and source of innovation and ideas.
sector includes hospitals, schools, chambers of commerce, youth groups,
symphonies, choral groups, libraries, service clubs, environmental
organizations, wildlife and animal rights groups, land trusts, think
tanks, conservation groups, museums, art guilds, and many more
organizations that make up the fabric of the life we live.
of us has volunteered at some time and in some capacity. Apart from the
forty or so volunteers that support the operations of the Boys
and Girls Club of Cape Cod, there are many more who assist the
various youth teams and leagues that the club organizes. At
Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, Superintendent Tony Pierentozzi
can call on more than three hundred volunteers to assist the programs of
instruction, youth development, sports and music, and other activities
that contribute to the mid-Cape community. And when you compile
these numbers across the more than a thousand nonprofit
organizations conservatively estimated to operate here, the number is
staggering. It swells even more when you add to it the number
of people who volunteer in the context of their houses of worship.
the two sustainability-indicator reports that the Cape Cod
Center for Sustainability has published in the past five
years, we relied almost exclusively on volunteer input.
Last year alone, more than 150 volunteers contributed their
knowledge, experience, energy, advice, counseling, networking, technical
expertise, and professional services to the center’s efforts. And
we're building our organization on this support.
however, neither of our publications listed volunteering as an
indicator that we should track to monitor what is happening in
our community. Fortunately, while we were overlooking its
importance, others were not. An ad hoc group began
meeting more than a year ago under the auspices of the Cape Cod
& Islands United Way to establish a volunteer center called CapeCorps.
The newly formed group went on immediately to
organize and host the Volunteer Expo last spring where we observed the
value of the programs that utilize the time and talents of the
volunteers in our region. This group will reconvene on April 26,
2005, for the second annual Volunteer to Sustain Cape Cod Expo.
We’re looking forward to this opportunity to learn more about the
projects that the volunteer center and the nonprofits already have in the
works as well as those they have planned for the future.
interactions and subsequent discussions with the United Way
and CapeCorps advisors, we began to look for the best way we could help
to firmly establish CapeCorps. We offered to assume the
administrative and fiduciary duties for CapeCorps, which would allow the United Way to
focus on its core priority, that of raising
funds to support other service programs across the Cape and islands.
accepted our offer, and now we're committed to making this happen.
We'll look for
other nonprofits and individuals to provide training. We'll
ask other businesses and associations to help us obtain the
expertise in technology we need to develop an accurate database of
volunteers and volunteer opportunities. Our goal is to develop
CapeCorps' capacity as a clearinghouse of information that
connects busy people with organizations. In this way, we can expand
the capacity of the Cape's nonprofit sector.
Volunteering is a
wonderful indicator of our overall quality of life. It suggests the
extent to which the underpinnings of a community -- its
security, job opportunities, health care services, recreation
outlets, education, and so on -- are in good shape. Our
commitment to establish CapeCorps stems from our desire
to make volunteer resources more broadly and readily available. And
to the extent that we achieve this end, we will expand the capacity of
the Cape's nonprofit sector. On Cape Cod, the greatest resource we have
is our deep reservoir of people willing to volunteer. Want to help?
—Allen R. Larson
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