Volunteer Center Started By United Way To Rebuild The Coast

To help rebuild homes around the area, the United Way of South Mississippi started a program Thursday called Volunteer Gulf Coast. The online service will make it a lot easier for non-profit groups to find volunteers, and volunteers to find rebuilding work.

That service is being run out of a small cubicle in the United Way's temporary office. Carolyn Riser is one of the three staff members working at the new center. She hopes to surf the net and find thousands of hard working people who still have an interest in rebuilding the gulf coast.

"There are lots of volunteers out there that want to volunteer, but don't know where to go," she said.

That was resolved with a snip of a ribbon. A dedication ceremony was held for the United Way of South Mississippi's brand new volunteer center.

John Baxter heads up the United Way of South Mississippi.

"What the volunteer center really is, it's about bringing two parties together," he told the ribbon cutting guests.

Mississippi knows about a half million volunteers who've spent time down here since Katrina, helping families and non-profit groups rebuild their properties. But not every volunteer has registered with the state. So, the United Way volunteer center has created a data base. That way, non-profit groups will know who to thank, and who to call when more help is needed.

Carol Burnett is with the Moore Community House. Her group will benefit from an post-Katrina assistance it can get.

"It will make it much easier, not only for us, but for people who want to volunteer," she said after the ceremony.

The new, online service will point volunteers to local groups that still need a boost. Its goal is to recruit and refer volunteers to assist in recovery in the aftermath of Katrina, and to build capacity of local non-profits and faith-based organizations.

The volunteer center is a joint venture between the Hands On network, and the United Way of South Mississippi.