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April 8, 2002

EmoryGives rolls out volunteer component

By Eric Rangus


When the list of charities hits the web today, the second part of EmoryGives’ new workplace-giving campaign—the volunteer component—will be under way.

Descriptions, volunteer opportunities and contact information for 14 Atlanta and Oxford-area charitable organizations are now available on the EmoryGives website ( for faculty and staff members interested in volunteering their time for a good cause.

“I applaud Emory for building in this volunteer component, because giving in your community is about giving both your time and your money,” said Alice Rolls, executive director of Earth Share of Georgia, one of EmoryGives’ six partner federations.

“When you build in these elements where people are actually going out to a facility and seeing first hand the work an organization does—where they’re outside planting trees—it becomes much more personal. So, when the campaign season rolls, around that will hopefully energize those people to be more involved,” she said.

The volunteering component came about in response to the comments of many employees who were seeking other avenues of charitable donation beyond money. When Emory’s workplace-giving campaign was reborn as EmoryGives last year, it consisted of two phases: the fall’s monetary campaign and the volunteer push in the spring.

The fall giving campaign was an unqualified success, raising nearly $450,000 from Emory employees, its highest total ever. And more than 350 people who donated in the fall checked a box indicating they would be interested in volunteering their time as well.

That put Michelle Smith and her staff to work.

Smith, director of corporate giving, consulted with each of EmoryGives’ six charitable partners as well as on-campus organizations like the Employee Council, Volunteer Emory, the Office of University-Community Partnerships and Human Resources to uncover volunteering opportunities. Smith found several one-time events—like a May 5 bicycling event, or one of several tree plantings—as well as ongoing opportunities, like volunteering at a local children’s hospital.

She pooled them, picked a manageable amount (25 events in all), then pulled together the most important facts, including phone numbers and website and e-mail addresses. All that information is available on the EmoryGives website. Flyers and other promotional materials advertising the campaign also will be making their way across campus.

The responsibility for volunteering is up to the employee; EmoryGives is not administrating or organizing any specific programs. Instead, it is passing along information to employees who then can choose the opportunity that is best for them.

“All we ask is that employees, when they sign up and volunteer, tell people they are from Emory, so those agencies can then tell us who came,” Smith said. EmoryGives isn’t interested in names, Smith said, but numbers.

EmoryGives’ volunteer offerings are quite varied. There are artistic opportunities (National Black Arts Festival), alternative transportation entities (Atlanta Bicycle Campaign), a charity convenient to Oxford College (Keep Covington Clean and Beautiful) and several others.

“I try to push volunteers to the delivery side,” said Greg Romanoski, volunteer coordinator for Project Open Hand, one of the volunteer partners. The organization prepares and delivers hot meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, homebound seniors and others who cannot leave their homes because of illness or disability. “That’s about the only volunteer opportunity we have where you can actually interact with the client. With a lot of our clients, the only person they see during the day is our delivery person.”

Project Open Hand, which is affiliated with Georgia Shares, another EmoryGives federation, also has volunteer positions in its kitchens and even opportunities for young children to participate by coloring goodie bags for delivery.

“We’re promoting this as an opportunity for staff to get together outside the workplace,” said Cheryl Bowie, Employee Council president. “You get the sense that your employer is interested in you not just for the work hours you do, but to enhance your total being.”

“We spend so much time in our jobs, and to actually go out with your co-workers and do something completely different is great for team building and it builds a sense of pride for your workplace,” Rolls added.

Smith said that next year she hopes to get the volunteer component rolling a bit earlier in the spring (perhaps by March), and it may include a different set of charities. She said her office will be contacting people in the near future who indicated volunteer interest with their fall donation.