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Nonprofits working together for common goal

It's a case of nonprofits helping nonprofits in Crow Wing County. Nonprofit organizations, such as Bridges of Hope, the Good Samaritan Society and Crisis Line Referral in Crow Wing County are always looking for volunteers to help them with variou...

RSVP volunteers Rita Duy (left), John Hess, Don Walker and Daryl Rosekrans (front) load boxes for Second Harvest Food Distribution at the First Baptist Church in Baxter. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
RSVP volunteers Rita Duy (left), John Hess, Don Walker and Daryl Rosekrans (front) load boxes for Second Harvest Food Distribution at the First Baptist Church in Baxter. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

It's a case of nonprofits helping nonprofits in Crow Wing County.

Nonprofit organizations, such as Bridges of Hope, the Good Samaritan Society and Crisis Line Referral in Crow Wing County are always looking for volunteers to help them with various events and projects, but what some people may not know, they also use each other for help.

They are called the Volunteer Coordinators of Crow Wing County and have been around for the past 40 years. The coordinators consist of all the nonprofit groups in the county who meet once a month to share ideas, education and recognition and recruitment of volunteers, and to support each other.

The coordinators:

• Work with the Brainerd Dispatch to publish "Volunteer Opportunities" each month.

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• Accept applications for Adult Volunteer of the Month and Youth Volunteer of the Month.

• Volunteers chosen are recognized in the media and the Rotary Club invites them to lunch for recognition on the third Tuesday of each month.

• Promote volunteerism locally and on Volunteer Recognition Week in April.

• Have a TV show called "Volunteer Connection."

Currently there are 22 paid members of the group and at a recent meeting, the nonprofit representatives talked about their organization.

Mike Koechler of RSVP Volunteer Services and Monica Husen of Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines in the Brainerd office work together on volunteer opportunities every month and said they are pleasantly amazed by how many volunteers they get each month. However, more volunteers are always needed.

Koechler said what is nice about the coordinator group is nonprofits may have a volunteer who they think would be a better fit for a different organization and the group can work with the person to get them in the nonprofit that they'd be the most interested in.

"Everyone here has a different network of people," said Koechler. "We all share our people with each other and it is really awesome."

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Husen said if a person has an interest in helping battered women and children, then the group can have the person volunteer at the Women's Center of Mid-Minnesota.

Deb Anderson of Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center said the hospital has a policy that volunteers cannot wear jeans, so they can help direct the person, who wants to wear jeans, to another organization that would interest them.

Anderson said another benefit of the group is that if there is a problem with a situation, talking with all the members is helpful in coming up with solutions.

The coordinators would like to see more nonprofits join their group, such as churches so the group can be more successful. There are 280 nonprofits in the county, which includes places of worship, service clubs and schools. Outside of those organization there are 198 nonprofits in Crow Wing County.

"Without volunteers all these programs/organizations would go away," said Marcia Ferris of Lutheran Social Services Foster Grandparent Program.

The History

When the group started in 1973, it was small. Then in 1975, the Governor's Office of Volunteer Services was formed, which changed its name a few times and then in 2002, the governor eliminated the programs.

Around 1985, the Brainerd group decided to get better organized and write a mission statement, deciding to honor volunteers during National Volunteer Week and started to collect dues from members. At this time the group began to grow and had more than 20 members.

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Over the years, the coordinators tried many different events to thank volunteers, including ice cream socials.

Volunteer Nomination

To nominate a volunteer, a form may be sent to Monica Husen, 803 Kingwood St. Suite 305, Brainerd, MN 56401, or contacting Husen at e-mail mhusen@gslakesandpines.org or 218-270-4859.

Related Topics: CROW WING COUNTYNONPROFITS
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