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Local volunteer agency receives grant
Funds will help extend resources of non-profit organizations
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TOPEKA – It is the next leap in the evolution of developing volunteers in Kansas, said Linn Hogg, coordinator of the Great Bend-based Volunteers in Action.
She was referring to the nearly $100,000 in funding being awarded by the Kansas Volunteer Commission. It went to  four Kansas volunteer-connector organizations, including VIA, in the form of Capacity Building through Volunteer Engagement grants.
What does all this mean? “We will utilize skilled volunteers to help build the capacity and extend the resources of non-profit organizations,” Hogg said.
The grants, totally nearly $25,000 each, aim to expand volunteering by strengthening community agencies to recruit, train, manage and retain these volunteers and to develop ways to use them to solve community problems, she said. Leveraging skilled volunteers within an organization in both direct and indirect service opportunities not only provides specialized skills, but provides new ways to make progress on daunting community issues. 
For example, Hogg said, since VIA is a United Way of Central Kansas-supported agency, it will work with other UWCK organizations. These volunteers can help with such things website design.
“This is the next step in the volunteer ladder,” Hogg said. Then, they will train the agency staff to maintain what is put in place.
“This way, we help stretch their resources,” Hogg said. In a time when many groups are seeing funding cuts, this kind of help is valuable.
The money will be used to help implement the program and purchase needed materials.
This is important since the KVC supports the idea of these volunteer connector organizations, said Nicolette Geisler, KVC spokesperson. “They are poised to be the catalyst in strengthening this movement.”
Geisler said the initiative is part of the Volunteer Generation Fund program, a grant to the KVC from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Kansas is one of 18 states to receive this funding.
This is the fourth year that Kansas has been awarded the Volunteer Generation Fund grant.  In the first three years of the VGF initiative the KVC awarded nearly $400,000 to volunteer-connectors and community organizations; this funding served as a vital investment in developing and strengthening the volunteer infrastructure of the state.  The Capacity Building through Volunteer Engagement grant initiative is the next step in fortifying that infrastructure.
 Other recipients included: Kansas Wesleyan University/The Volunteer Connection – Clay, Cloud, Dickinson, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Marion, McPherson, Mitchell, Osborne, Ottawa, Republic, Saline and Smith counties; United Way of Douglas County; and United Way of Franklin County Association.
Volunteers in Action is part of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and focuses on volunteers under age 55.