VOLUNTEER

Volunteer

 

What is Get Connected?

 

Get Connected is a self-service volunteer portal operated by United Way of Olmsted County. Here, community members can browse current volunteer opportunities from our local nonprofit partners. Make a free Get Connected profile to get started!

 
FAQ Guide for Community Volunteers
Register as a volunteer on Get Connected!

Watch the How-To Video: Learn how to create a free profile on Get Connected in 5 easy steps!

  • Step 1: Create an account.
  • Step 2: Select causes that you're passionate about (e.g. education, income, housing, disaster response, etc.)
  • Step 3: Select interests (specific skills or talents) that you bring as a volunteer (e.g. marketing, technology, education, physical labor, etc.)
  • Step 4: Find agencies that match your interests (e.g. Cradle 2 Career, Salvation Army, Family Service Rochester, etc.)
  • Step 5: You're registered! Now you can edit your profile, find current volunteer needs, and sign up for a specific need by clicking "register". 

Finding Volunteer Opportunities: Ready to start volunteering? This article explains how Get Connected offers several easy ways to find the right volunteer opportunities for you! You may search by keyword, sort by date added, or filter by various criteria such as date, interest, and virtual need.

The Volunteer Dashboard: This article explains the volunteer dashboard or "home page". Here, you can do things such as track your volunteer hours, view suggested needs, and update your basic personal information.

Managing Your Volunteer Profile: Learn how to update your preferred causes, interests or skills, and fanned agencies on your volunteer profile! 

Team-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities: Looking to volunteer with your friends, family, colleagues, or other group? Learn how to participate in volunteer activities as a team on Get Connected! United Way of Olmsted County also helps coordinate one-time or ongoing volunteer opportunities through our corporate engagement program.

 

FAQ Guide for Nonprofit Organizations
Register your nonprofit organization on Get Connected!

Your Agency or Program's Profile Page: It's important to have an updated agency profile so that interested volunteers can learn about your mission and register for current volunteer needs! You will need to add basic information including your nonprofit organization's EIN, logo, and agency manager's contact information.

Full Get Connected Agency Training Video: Get Connected is an excellent tool for volunteer recruitment. This training walks you through the ins and outs of registering your agency, managing your agency profile, and adding volunteer needs.

Frequently Asked Questions: Agency Managers: Still have questions about getting your nonprofit on Get Connected? Check out the complete FAQs for Agency Managers. 

What is Varsity Letter in Community Service?

Through the Varsity Letter in Community Service (VLCS) program, United Way of Olmsted County partners with high schools in Olmsted, Dodge, Winona and Fillmore counties to recognize and reward students for their volunteer efforts in the community. High school students who volunteer 100 hours in one year can earn their school varsity letter, the same as those earned in academics, arts, athletics, etc. With 52 weeks in a year, that is equivalent to about 2 hours per week.

Applying for Varsity Letter in Community Service (VLCS)

  1. Print or download the current application à 2023-2024 School Year Application VLCS

  2. If you're new to Varsity Letter in Community Service (VLCS), email Sonja so they know you're interested and can answer any questions you may have!

  3. Each time you volunteer, either take a photo -OR- get your volunteer supervisor to sign a piece of organization letterhead. Scroll down for ideas about where to volunteer.

  4. For each volunteer organization, verify hours and complete the reflection questions on the Verification Form.

  5. Turn in your application to United Way of Olmsted County by the Application Deadline: March 1, 2024 using one of the following methods:

    • ONLINE: We are now accepting Online Applications *You will need to create an account and login* Click Here for a Step-by-Step Guide to Applying Online!

    • VIA EMAIL: You may submit your application via email to sonjas@uwolmsted.org for Sonja, the Program Coordinator, to review.

    • BY MAIL: You may mail or hand deliver your application to our office at: United Way of Olmsted County, 903 West Center Street, Suite 100, Rochester, MN 55902, Attn: Varsity Letter in Community Service.

Application Materials 

All supplemental materials including Requirements & Guidelines, FAQs, Checklists and Verification Forms are included in the original application form. Additional copies can be found below or by sending an email request to sonjas@uwolmsted.org

+ 2023-2024 Official Application 2023-2024 School Year Application VLCS

+ Additional Verification Forms VLCS Verification Form 2023-2024 School Year

+ Volunteer Resources VLCS Volunteer Resources 2023-2024 School Year

+ Application Checklist VLCS Application Checklist 2023-2024 School Year

+ List of FAQs VLCS FAQs 2023-2024 School Year

Important Dates 2023-24

  • Hours are for eligible volunteer work from March 1, 2023 - February 29, 2024.

  • Application deadline is on or before March 1, 2024.

What to Expect After You Apply

  • United Way of Olmsted County will notify you that we have received your application by email on or before March 8, 2024.

  • United Way of Olmsted County will notify you by April 1, 2024 if you are receiving this award.

  • A student who qualifies for the Varsity Letter in Community Service, will receive a certificate and a community service varsity letter patch if he/she is a first, second, third or fourth year earning the award. These are currently free of charge.

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WHERE TO VOLUNTEER

United Way’s mission is to unite people and resources to improve people’s lives in our community. We fight for the education, health, and financial stability of every individual, and encourage students to volunteer in those three community impact areas. We also recognize that students are already involved in community service clubs and initiatives through their high schools. To encourage a balance in activities, students must perform at least one school-related activity and serve at least 40 hours of non-school related volunteering such as supporting a local nonprofit (501c3) or civic service agency.

United Way of Olmsted County is a community change organization that collaborates with partners, accelerates impact, and drives changes identified by community members. Because of this, we tackle the most pressing needs in our community, cultivate leaders to build a place where all people can thrive, and empower local residents to shape their future. Therefore UWOC encourages VLCS applicants to volunteer with organizations whom we currently support. Those can be found by following the links below.

United Way of Olmsted County website:

https://uwolmsted.org/meet-our-grantees

United Way of Dodge County website:

https://unitedwayofdodgecountymn.org/2022-impact-report/

The following opportunities are examples that qualify for Varsity Letter in Community Service. You may also use Get Connected, United Way of Olmsted’s online volunteer portal, to find local opportunities! Scroll down to learn how to use the Get Connected volunteer portal or use the link to get started. 

Type of Volunteerism

A blue graduation cap with a white dot

Description automatically generatedEducation

A heart with a pulse line

Description automatically generated Health

A brick wall with a trowel

Description automatically generatedFinancial Stability

 

GENERAL examples

 

What general types of volunteer activities are accepted?

 

How can I help fight for education, health, and financial stability?

- Tutor/mentor/assist a teacher

- Teach a language, an art, or another educational activity

- Share your musical talent

- Local library volunteer

- Participate in a community service club

- Donate activity kits with books, games, etc.

-Visit a children’s organization to read, dance, sing, color, puzzle, etc.

-Volunteer at an event

-Provide social media or IT support to a nonprofit org

-Youth after-school programs

- Offer companionship to someone in assisted living or become a pen pal

- Play games, cards or puzzle at a nursing home facility

- Pick up litter or support a local public works effort

- Volunteer as a coach or at a local sporting event

- Volunteer at a medical center

- Volunteer with a local farmers market or community garden

- Help a local volunteer firefighter department

- Personal hygiene collection drive

- Help at a food bank, food shelf, or with meal/s for a family in need

- Support those with disabilities to live independently

- Snow removal, yardwork, painting, moving/packing, home projects and/or other household chores for seniors or disabled individuals

- Serve a community meal

- Craft, crochet, sew, knit, or assemble essential items and/or collect materials to donate

- Host or help with a collection drive/fundraising event or organize one!

 

SPECIFIC examples

 

What specific programs are available to volunteer with in Olmsted County?

 

What local programs support education, health, and financial stability?

- Living Room Tutors (virtual)

- YMCA: Camp Leadership or Camp Oxbow (zoo trips, archery, building camp fires, tie dye, crafts, etc.)

-Community Service Clubs: Key Club, National Honors Society, FFA, 4-H, Girl/Boy Scouts, etc.

- Stewartville Sportman’s Club

- Sing, dance or perform at a local nursing home

- MagiKids by Weirdcards: teach the game, start a club or organize a card drive

- Brighter Tomorrows: activities with kids, talk-time with teens

- Read to children at a United Way of Olmsted County event

- History Center: outdoor work, admin tasks & special events

- Elder Network or Hiawatha Homes

- RNeighbors annual: “A Litter Bit Better

- Adopt-A-Spot, (or a drain, stormwater pond, river, or highway) with your city Public Works

- Participate in Volunteer Water Monitoring of Minnesota lakes & streams

- Special Olympics MN coach or volunteer

- Limb Lab’s annual golf tournament

- Rochester Farmers Market

- American Red Cross

- Stewartville Volunteer Fire Department

- EA Therapeutic Health: explore the medical field through volunteering with a class or skills bootcamp 

- Local food shelf or Channel One Regional Food Bank

- Salvation Army: Resource room or food shelf attendant

-  Family Service Rochester’s “Neighbors Helping Neighbors

- Project Linus, Bundles of Love, or Olmsted Medical Center: Craft, cut, crochet, sew, knit, iron, assemble or deliver infant essentials and/or materials; organize a collection

Habitat for Humanity: Volunteer at a Build Site or ReStore (retail)

- Kiwanis, Exchange, or Lions Club fundraising events

- In-Kind donation drive/s for Elder Network, The Landing, Family Promise, or Ronald McDonald House

 

What if my volunteer activity doesn’t fit in the categories of health, education, or financial stability?

United Way of Olmsted County encourages volunteer opportunities in these specific areas of community impact. However, there are many local nonprofits within different areas. Example opportunities that would fall in the “Other” category include animal shelters, arts/humanities, business leagues, churches/religious organizations, and social/recreation clubs with 501(c)(3) status. Please check the appropriate box on your verification form.

If you are unsure whether a certain activity meets the volunteer requirements, please contact Sonja via email sonjas@uwolmsted.org or by phone (507) 535-5509 to verify before you start.

Get Connected

Learn how to use our Get Connected volunteer portal to view current needs in Olmsted County

Jump to straight to Get Connected 

Congratulations to our past Varsity Letter in Community Service Recipients! 

In 2020, our high school leaders participated on an interview panel via Instagram Live!

Stewartville HS Spring Pepfest VLCS Certificate Award Recognition 2021

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CONTACT US

United Way of Olmsted County

Sonja Sommerfeldt Impact Program Coordinator
sonjas@uwolmsted.org, 507-535-5509

United Way of Olmsted County
Attn: Varsity Letter in Community Service
903 West Center Street, Suite 100
Rochester, MN 55902

Stewartville High School

Joyce Stacy, United Way Volunteer and Former Educator
community.service@ssdtigers.org

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Interested in becoming a Student Mentor?

If you're interested in becoming a VLCS Volunteer Mentor, check out the links below for additional information and resources:

VLCS Volunteer Mentor Description

VLCS Volunteer Mentor Resource Guide

If you would like to join our efforts as a VLCS Volunteer Mentor, please reach out to Sonja. We'd love to arm you with some training and materials to help you get started!

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