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the advent of the personal computer and the Internet, vast new
opportunities are available for volunteering. The Salvation Army is one
well-known and well-respected organization that has embraced the
concepts of "virtual volunteering" and
its 135-year history, the Salvation Army has been on the cutting edge of
innovation. Indeed, in a recent Forbes article (August 11, 1997), Peter
Drucker described the Salvation Army as "by far the most effective
organization in the U.S. No one even comes close to it in respect to
clarity of mission, ability to innovate, measurable results, dedication
and putting money to maximum use."
West Chester Salvation Army Corps Community Center engages virtual
volunteers in its mission to meet the social and spiritual needs of
people in the local community. The local center at 101 East Market
Street is one of approximately 1300 Corps Community Centers. Each center
develops and finances all of its own activities through local
fundraising. The local center offers worship services and spiritual
guidance under the direction of Majors Jerry and Susan Stinson, both
ordained Salvation Army Officers. In addition, the center provides safe,
temporary lodging for homeless men, serves meals, distributes food to
the needy, and offers social assistance enabling clients to become
self-sufficient and productive members of the community. In 1999, The
West Chester Salvation Army Corps Community Center distributed 60 tons
of food and served over 17,000 meals.
are the lifeblood of the Salvation Army and are considered to be
"non-paid staff." Just for the month of October, 486 different
volunteers donated over 2600 hours.
McDonald, Coordinator of Volunteers for the local center, uses the
computer and the Internet to recruit, train, and assign volunteers.
Virtual volunteers are recruited through such web sites as servenet.org
volunteering allows volunteers to contribute their time, talent, and
skills at a time and place convenient for them. While medical conditions
may prevent someone from being a bell ringer for the familiar Salvation
Army red kettle program during the Christmas season or serving as a food
boxer for one of the food drives, he or she can be a virtual volunteer
and help with administrative tasks such as preparing mailings and
mailing lists. In short, virtual volunteering offers tremendous
flexibility and almost limitless opportunities for volunteers,"
the 'digital divide' between the rich and poor is gone. Now that other
not-for-profit organizations such as the Chester County Interlink (CCIL)
offer free internet services and the Chester County Library offers free
computer and Internet access, even the economically challenged citizens
in our community can become virtual volunteers," she adds.
uses the software package, Volunteer Works, to help her manage the
volunteer program. Using the package she can keep track of the special
needs and schedules of the volunteers.
want to add that the need for our services continues to grow with the
closing of more and more institutions for the mentally, behaviorally,
developmentally, emotionally, and physically challenged. We are always
looking for volunteers because the work of the Salvation Army will never
be completed," emphasizes Victoria.
more information on becoming a virtual volunteer or a regular volunteer
for the Salvation Army, call Victoria McDonald at 610-696-8746, e-mail
her at email@example.com, and/or
visit the West Chester Salvation Army web site at www.thesalvationarmy.org.
The Greg Gore Web Site on Computers and the Internet (www.GregGore.com)
column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on December
Greg Gore can be reached at gg@GregGore.com.
2009 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.