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11 Questions
Getting Involved with Volunteering in the SCV
December, 2007 - Issue #38
Ten years ago the community saw a need for a centralized location that would allow local nonprofit organizations to come together and share ideas, assess needs and get help. The City of Santa Clarita, along with The Newhall Land and Farming Company and United Way, created the SCV Resource Center. Based at city hall, the Resource Center met with local charity-based organizations to offer assistance and training.

Today, the organization has evolved. With a new name and new location, Volunteer Resource Center of SCV is a thriving center that bridges the gap between local community service organizations, businesses and residents who work together to make Santa Clarita a better place to live. At the helm of Volunteer Resource of SCV is Executive Director Sharalyn Hamilton. If you are looking to volunteer or donate to a local nonprofit during this holiday season, Hamilton is the one to call.

1. How many community groups are involved in Volunteer in SCV?
We have 114 in our new guide (listing all the nonprofits that have contacted the center). We have about 91 nonprofits who list on our website.

2. Santa Clarita is not lacking in nonprofit organizations or charity events. What type of assistance can you offer these groups?
We help them find volunteers, hold workshops on grant writing and consider ourselves the center of communication for the nonprofit world. When an organization needs to get their information out to the nonprofit community, they e-mail their flyer to us and we do the e-mail blast to the nonprofit community. We are also a place where a business can call us to connect to and help nonprofits in a number of ways, whether with donations or with volunteers. It's a two-way street from nonprofits to the business community.

3. What is the number one issue facing the nonprofits in Santa Clarita?

Money. There are always changes in any business and with economics today, we will certainly see changes in the nonprofit arena. We hold a nonprofit leader's luncheon to try and keep the attitude of communication and collaboration open.

4. How has the business community responded to these needs?

I would like to connect more with the business community. There are certain nonprofits that are easy to be connected to. They are the big names. But I encourage businesses to look at their own mission statement and try to find a nonprofit to be involved with. Even if you pick a small nonprofit, you can make a big difference.

5. Tell us a little about your background.
I am an ordained United Methodist minister. We have a long tradition of community involvement and it's always been a part of my life as a clergy person. I wanted more than I was able to do as a church pastor. The Volunteer Resource Center fits my ideas and personal mission.

6. Do you have any paid office staff?
Hope Craig is our main customer service expert. She is the one who is the most hands-on with the nonprofits. She's made the communication work. Another cool person is an Americorp*VISTA member Aman Sandhu, a graduate of UCSD who is giving a year of service to us before she heads on to graduate school.

7. There are plenty of charity fundraising events in our community just about every weekend. Does your organization help with coordinating the community calendar?
Nonprofits try to coordinate with each other. Sometimes it gets competitive, and you don't want your events on the same day. If they happen to fall on the same day, nonprofits should try to coordinate and encourage one another. One of my missions is to decrease the competition and increase the collaboration between nonprofits.

8. Say I want to volunteer for an organization in town. How do you go about helping me find a good "fit" for my services?

We do volunteer assistance in a variety of ways. We have a guidebook we publish and volunteers use it to locate nonprofits they may be passionate about helping. We found that people in the community also use our guidebook when they are looking for certain services. Second, when a potential volunteer calls us, comes into the office, or shows up for our annual "Make a Difference" Day, we can help them find an organization to get involved with. The other avenue is our website (www.volunteerinscv.org). We are focusing on the Volunteering Matching Network, which is part of the governor's office. There are 27 volunteer hubs in the State of California and we are one of them. You can search on the website for a certain organization or let us know what you want to do and we'll find a match

9. Tell me about the feedback you receive from local nonprofits.

We've had very positive feedback. There is no fee to join our list, just proof of a 501 c-3 (nonprofit status). If we are able to connect just one volunteer, we have helped.

10. You are a nonprofit yourself and have a board of directors. How do you receive funding?

We receive funding partially from grants, corporate donations and individual contributions. Our facility has been provided by the city for past 8 years.

11. What is your wish list for the future of your organization?

My wish would be to expand into youth and senior programs and we are truly hoping that the business community will look into adopting nonprofits in our area, including us.
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