The United Way Tri-Valley Area (UWTVA) Volunteer Center is located in Farmington, Maine and serves the greater Franklin County. UWTVA has a strong connection with the University of Maine Farmington (UMF), which includes participating in the Partnership for Civic Advancement and engaging students who have a community service requirement or interest in giving back to the community. The Volunteer center also works with professors and students on evaluating the impact of volunteerism in Franklin County.
The volunteer center has numerous program innovations. In 2009, the Community Energy Challenge (CEC) was established as part of a county-wide initiative to help people in Maine stay safe and warm in their homes. It started with just one volunteer, who coordinated all the activities and managed other volunteers and has since expanded. As of last year, four volunteers served 1,360 hours and drove more than 5,198 miles to train and coordinate efforts of 89 volunteers, who contributed a total of 866 hours of service.
Another program innovation involves local school districts. Lunch Buddies matches at-risk K-3 students with adult mentors who meet once a week during lunch and recess. The volunteer center doubled the number of adult buddies during the past year. Another school program is Girl Talk Teen voices, which is a mentoring program that pairs girls grades 5-8 with female mentors who are either UMF students or community professionals.
The volunteer Center is also inclusive of people with disabilities, engaging them with volunteer opportunities and service learning.
The common ingredient within their success stems from passionate individuals who are committed to making a difference in their community. The Volunteer Center builds on this energy and inspiration and has launched a new initiative, CommUnity Works, as an “incubators of ideas” that will assist individuals and groups in bringing their ideas to fruition to meet local needs.
To read more about this program, see pages 71-72 in Transforming Communities Through Service.