Volunteer Starkville, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organized in 2010, serves as the volunteer center for Starkville and Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. Initially operated by an AmeriCorps VISTA, funding was secured through the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service in 2011 when the Board of Directors hired its first Executive Director. A year later, that position became open.
Jamey Bachman was in search of a job in the community engagement field after graduating from Mississippi State University with a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration and completing her graduate coordinator position in the MSU Department of Student Leadership and Community Engagement for the Day One Leadership Community.
“Through that position, I fell in love working with nonprofits and developing service agreements for the Day One action teams,” she said. “Volunteer Starkville began advertising for an Executive Director during June 2012. It was absolutely perfect timing.” Jamey applied for the job, interviewed and was hired.
Volunteer Starkville provides volunteer recruitment and management services to nonprofits and community organizations free of charge and connects residents with volunteer opportunities matching their interests and skills.
“If you are an individual or group looking to make a difference in your community, meet new people, develop and utilize skills and/or meet community service requirements,” said Jamey, “let us help find you the perfect volunteer opportunity that aligns with your interests and skills.”
Volunteers are the backbone of most nonprofit organizations, explained Jamey, because, without a strong volunteer base, many nonprofits wouldn’t be able to achieve the goals of their missions.
A volunteer center is a valuable community resource because it serves as a clearinghouse for volunteerism, connects volunteers with nonprofits and serves as a resource for nonprofits to help create, develop and build volunteer programs, and train staff on the best practices of volunteer management.
“It also serves as a resource to people in the community to become active, engaged citizens by connecting them to an ongoing menu of needs in the community that can be met through community service.”
Although Volunteer Starkville was originally founded to serve the City of Starkville and Oktibbeha County, it now includes Clay and Winston Counties.
“Volunteer Mississippi requested that we expand our services in 2015 to neighboring counties to help increase volunteerism within the state,” said Jamey. “In order to do so, we have begun identifying nonprofits in these two counties and reaching out to them with our services.
Volunteer Starkville now serves over 160 nonprofit and community organizations, including Oktibbeha County Humane Society, Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, Catch-a-Dream Foundation, Contact Helpline, United Way of North Central MS, Starkville Area Arts Council and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity, Starkville Community Theatre, Oktibbeha County Excel by 5 Coalition, Henderson Ward Stewart School, Starkville Boys and Girls Club, Christian World Missions, Oktibbeha County Relay for Life, and Rock Hill Community Cemetery Association are also included in that list.
Volunteers are a rare breed. They do something for nothing, give only for the sake of giving, and rarely receive or expect recognition. In a world becoming much more technologically-oriented rather than people-oriented, how will this affect organizations like Volunteer Starkville? In 2015 Volunteer Starkville reported 26,558 volunteer engagements among its nonprofit partners within its service area, representing more than a third of the volunteer engagement reports for the entire state.
“One of the reasons why Starkville is such a wonderful place to live is because there are quality programs and events for all ages from Scouting to community theatre,” said Jamey. “I see volunteerism continuing to grow, and I hope it continues to develop as a way of life for the people in our community.”