Many residents of the city of Grand Rapids have collected mygrcitypoints to recycle and redeem at local businesses. But now, in phase two of this successful civic engagement program, all area residents (not just city residents) can receive points redeemable at Local First businesses to participate in selected volunteer activities.
Through a new partnership with the Heart of West Michigan United Way Volunteer Center, mygrcitypoints users can find selected volunteer activities through Convenient connection, an online volunteer management system.
“Our HandsOn online volunteer management program will make it easy for organizations to post opportunities, communicate with volunteers and track volunteer participation,” said Maureen Noe, President / CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way. “The volunteering component adds a great way for nonprofits to gain new supporters, so we encourage all nonprofits in the region to get involved in this endeavor.”
When new or existing mygrcitypoints users log in, they’ll find a new connection to United Way’s HandsOn Connect program and an easy-to-sort set of volunteer opportunities. By linking the account to HandsOn Connect, users collect points for participating in these volunteer activities.
To celebrate the launch of this partnership between the City and United Way, volunteers participated in a number of volunteer events for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service. There was the “Book sorting bash“in the Kent District Libraries, the Outdoor Blanford Nature Center shrub hauling activity, and Computer disassembly by Comprenew Event. Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity also hosted a volunteer event for MLK Day., as did Centraide NextGen (blood drive) and Elder Neighbors (painting).
“Heart of West Michigan United Way places great value on partnerships between public and private entities and individuals,” said Noe.
Heather Kaweck, Volunteer Coordinator at Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, helped organize volunteers around an effort to make city parks a great place to picnic. “Basically, the city collected the tables in the fall from local parks to dry and paint them during the winter. In the spring, they will again be scattered throughout the city. This is the first MLK event that the friends of GR Parks attended and it’s going really well, ”she said.
The City’s partnership with Centraide has been in preparation for over a year. Linked web platforms have been in beta testing since September, and the launch of MLK Day was the initial version of the program. Jasmine Olsen, the city’s tech professional, gave observers a demonstration of the software at Tuesday morning’s press conference. Individuals can easily sign up and start earning points, and can even donate those points to special campaigns – such as the City parks campaign.
“From today until March 31, anyone who earns points through recycling or volunteering can contribute to their favorite city park,” said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. “The three parks with the most points will receive money to be used for improving the park. The park with the most points will receive up to $ 50,000 for a park renovation. The second and third winners will receive up to $ 10,000 each. The rewards will be announced in the spring, and park improvement projects will begin shortly thereafter. “
Olsen stressed that businesses and foundations are encouraged to participate in this new campaign feature. Interested agencies with volunteer opportunities will be able to express their interest and submit their ideas for future campaigns through the mygrcitypoints.com website.
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