Volunteer Spotlight

Story by Greg Tasker.

October 9, 2017

HAVEN boosts volunteer network through United Way portal

United Way for Southeastern Michigan staff members volunteered at HAVEN this summer.

United Way for Southeastern Michigan staff members volunteered at HAVEN this summer. United Way’s volunteer network makes it easy for volunteers and organizations to connect with each other.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and those looking to make a difference by volunteering to help survivors have plenty of options to do so at HAVEN.

As a United Way funded partner, HAVEN provides services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence throughout and around Oakland County.

With the help of United Way’s new online volunteer portal, the organization and volunteers have an easier time connecting with one another to make an impact.

We’re focused on making a difference in the Education, Economic Prosperity and Health of our community. HAVEN’s work aligns with our vision to create brighter futures in those areas for all people who walk through their doors.

Katie Lamb, volunteer and intern manager for HAVEN, said the organization has a robust volunteer and intern program. “We have a variety of different opportunities to volunteer, either for a one-time event or ongoing needs. We always need individuals and groups to volunteer.”

HAVEN’s work is a critical service to the community. That work requires the help of more than 1,200 volunteers and interns annually to answer crisis and support lines, mentor children, and clean and garden at its residential shelter.

Haven also provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and education programming to its clients.

At United Way, we provide a variety of supports to help our partners build capacity. Because of our efforts, they can focus on doing what they do best — changing lives. HAVEN serves about 30,000 people a year, and our volunteer portal is helping them recruit that extra help more efficiently. And with the holiday season approaching, the nonprofit needs those helping hands to help staff their special holiday programs.

“The portal has come at the perfect time for us,” Katie said. “Our holiday gift giveaway requires hundreds of volunteers and volunteer hours. It’s our largest client-focused event of the year. It requires a lot help and is truly an amazing event.”

The HAVEN gift giveaway allows clients to shop for holiday presents, wrapping paper and accessories in mid-December. All gifts selected by HAVEN clients are free. The gift giveaway allows family holiday celebrations that may not otherwise be possible for these families. Volunteers are needed to help accept donations of gifts and toys, as well as organize and staff the festive event.

When we launched our online volunteer portal, our goal was to help partners like HAVEN reach new audiences while also making it easier for volunteers to find meaningful ways to give back. As a result of that goal, the portal is a volunteer match-maker, marrying skill sets to areas of interest.

“The portal has been the perfect avenue to streamline everything.” —Katie Lamb, volunteer and intern manager, HAVEN

Creating a profile is easy. Once signed up, volunteers can receive updates on new opportunity matches. They can also look through all openings to find both short and long-term projects. Corporate and community organizations can also use the portal to accommodate large groups looking for a perfectly-tailored volunteer opportunity.

The portal also allows volunteers to sign up for informational sessions to visit HAVEN and learn more about the organization.

“We’re getting traction from folks who may not necessarily have heard of HAVEN,” Katie said. “The portal has been the perfect avenue to streamline everything.”

HAVEN has a variety of volunteer positions available — including staffing its 24-hour crisis line, mentoring children, teaching life skills to adults and providing assistance and care to adults and children in the shelter. Group volunteers can plan activities for HAVEN clients, including movie night, board games or arts and crafts.

“We have a lot of working parts,” said Leslie Geupel Stratton, a nonprofit human resources consultant who works with HAVEN. “We have just two members running our volunteer and intern program. The portal helps us with efficiency. You can truly see why the portal is exciting for us. We can’t do it without volunteers.”

Potential partners who want to be added to the portal can email Volunteer@LiveUnitedSEM.org.

Volunteer opportunities and events at HAVEN

Gift Giveaway: Various times Dec. 10 – Dec. 14
Volunteers needed to accept donations, room setup, organize and sort donations and inventory. Volunteers also needed to help clients with shopping, restock tables, organization and event clean up.