Connections Volunteer Center (Connections) was established in response to a community needs survey that identified the desire for a central clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities. Primary funders, SourcePoint (formally Council for Older Adults) and United Way of Delaware County, leveraged the unique position and strength of HelpLine – who was the community’s only 24/7 information and referral hub – to house the program. Today, Connections bridges the gap between passionate volunteers and community needs by helping nonprofits focus on what matters most – people leading fulfilled and supported lives. Professional development is also offered to help community champions, social workers and counselors, move good forward.
Connections began a community training program called “Boardwalk” which provided a series of in-person training to nonprofit board members on topics such as ethics, legal issues, and volunteerism. After several years, the training expanded to include Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to counselors and social workers as approved by the State of Ohio Social Work, Counselor, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board. Additional topics such as suicide intervention, self and trauma-informed care and supervision.
Family Volunteer Day, a national day of service held the Saturday before Thanksgiving, was introduced to focus on spending quality time together while connecting with family members through volunteerism. With the goal of building bonds between multiple generations, the day inspired families to selfless service.
Connections hosted the inaugural Make A Difference Delaware County (formerly national Make A Difference Day), the largest single day of volunteering in Delaware County. A county-wide event, hundreds of volunteers of all ages come together to help with outdoor chores at the homes of older adults and nonprofits throughout the county on the second Saturday in November.
The Pen Pal Program was established as an intergenerational program that matched older adult volunteers with fifth grade students. The student and volunteer read the same book, and through letter writing, shared thoughts about the book and information to get acquainted. Developed in partnership with SourcePoint, students improved their handwriting while learning about personal, cultural, and experiences from past generations. The program also met reading and writing compensation requirements.
The Senior Companion Program is offered by Connections with the goal of linking older adults living independently, many of whom are lonely and/or isolated, with a companion who provides friendship, social engagement, and help with errands. This program is funded by SourcePoint and is managed in partnership with Catholic Social Services.
The Partners In Volunteering event was developed to bring together nonprofit agencies and volunteers in a fair-like setting. Agencies set up displays and presented information to volunteers who attended. Partners In Volunteering gave those interested in helping the opportunity to learn about several different agencies at a single in-person event.
Connections transitions to its first online volunteer application and database, where volunteers could search and get referred to featured opportunities.
Connections became a part of the county-wide disaster plan. In partnership with the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency and other local agencies, Connections assists in providing the volunteer management necessary in the event of a local disaster or emergency.
SHINE (Seniors Helping Impact Neighbors Everywhere) began as a day of service created by Connections to highlight the impact older-adult volunteers have in our community. Senior volunteers gathered together each year to provide a day of service at a local nonprofit organization.
USA Today Magazine, sponsor of the then-called Make A Difference Day (now Make A Difference Delaware County) awarded Connections with a national prize for their stellar coordination and impact.
Happy Hours were developed by Connections to target low income 55+ apartment communities as a way to introduce and encourage volunteerism and connect those who may have physical or transportation barriers. Happy Hours seek to increase physical activity as well as reduce feelings of loneliness, sadness, and/or isolation. Connections provides a volunteer project, music, refreshments, and door prizes for the residents.
Tegna presented Connections with its second national award for its coordination and outreach during Make A Difference Day (now Make A Difference Delaware County).
Connections launched Sages & Seekers, a national, eight week intergenerational program developed by Elly Katz of Massachusetts. Sages & Seekers strives to develop empathy and diminish ageism through in-person conversations. Older adult volunteers (Sages) are matched one-on-one with a high school student (Seekers). Older adults benefit from this relationship by sharing their wisdom, memories, reexamining their life events, while youth learn valuable life skills including empathy, interviewing, listening, writing, and public speaking. At the end of the program, the Sage is presented with a tribute written by their Seeker.
A new spin on date night debuted, known as Do Good Date Night. Based upon a concept that originated in Florida in 2015 by Kristen Manieri, couples volunteered together for one hour at a nonprofit agency. The hour of work was followed by an hour of dinner and games – truly giving life to mantra, “work hard, play hard.”
In celebration of the 25th anniversary, Connections rebrands elements including its logo and website. While the logo is more reflective of the service nature of the agency, the website features new functionality and an online volunteer platform called Get Connected.