Volunteering can be HOT | SierraSun.com

Volunteering can be HOT

Jessica Beiber, right, and another volunteer, help distribute food to people at the Truckee Donner Community Center last week. Project MANA is one of the many local organizations with volunteer opportunities listed through Hands on Tahoe, a program that matches volunteers with nonprofits.

“Man seeking way to spend free time with worthy organization. Likes computers and databases. Employers who pay need not respond.”

Lynette Eddie is not your typical matchmaker.

As a volunteer coordinator with the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, she hooks up people in the community with the nonprofits that need their skills in a program called Hands on Tahoe (HOT). Currently, Hands on Tahoe has 50 volunteer requests from area organizations.

“We’ll find a place for anybody who wants to give back to the community,” Eddie said.

Take George Brooks, for example. Brooks, an 18-year Truckee resident, heard about Hands on Tahoe in a radio ad. Wanting to find an organization that could use his free time and experience with computers, he met with Eddie and flipped through her list of volunteer opportunities.

That’s when he found the Truckee Donner Land Trust. The organization needed someone to sort out its database, and with 11 years of experience as the chief technology officer at Sierra Nevada College, Brooks was their man.

“They have a home-grown database operation for people who [donate money to them] or people who are interested in helping them,” he said. “The database needs some help.”

Tanya Africa, associate director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, said that when she filled out a form requesting help with the land trust’s database, she didn’t expect to hear back.

“I said ‘I’ll put it down, but we’ll never find someone to do that,'” she said.

Then Brooks came in, and it was the perfect match, Africa said.

“This is something that will save us thousands of dollars, increase our efficiency and help us focus on protecting land,” she said. “It’s very exciting for us to find someone with specialized skills.”

That’s exactly what the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation hopes to accomplish through Hands on Tahoe, said foundation CEO Lisa Dobey.

“This community has an abundance of people who are up here with flexible schedules who have tremendous skills and resources,” Dobey said. “Right now we have a lot of organizations with volunteer opportunities, and we don’t have enough people.”

With Hands on Tahoe, volunteers can find three types of opportunities: traditional weekly commitments, one-day projects and short-term projects, much like the database work Brooks will do for the Land Trust.

Whether it’s hanging out with dogs for the Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe, making maps for the land trust or answering the phone for the KidZone, there’s an opportunity for everyone in the community, Dobey said.

“If you want to be a part of this community, part of that means giving back,” she said. “And we want to make it easy for people to do just that.”

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