BUILDING A CULTURE OF VOLUNTEERISM AND SERVICE IN ULSTER COUNTY
UlsterCorps is a countywide resource dedicated to fostering a culture of volunteerism, collaborative work and community service. Our mission is to educate about volunteerism and best practices, facilitate successful and effective volunteer placements, and build collaborations among nonprofit organizations, local government agencies, and businesses engaged in community involvement throughout Ulster County. While UlsterCorps involves individuals of all ages in its activities, it has a deep commitment to engaging and educating youth in community service and leadership.
Why UlsterCorps? In early 2009, a small group of committed volunteers launched UlsterCorps to bring other volunteers together with the organizations in Ulster County that rely on their help. Since its inception UlsterCorps has connected thousands of people with dozens of Ulster County agencies that provide food, clothing, shelter, emergency services, literacy training, child and elder care, animal welfare, and more to the area’s most vulnerable residents. UlsterCorps has become a vital, collaboration-building resource for nonprofit agencies, civic and religious organizations, businesses, schools, government and volunteers of all ages.
Volunteerism is central to sustaining healthy, resilient communities, and UlsterCorps volunteers offer diverse talents, availability, interests, and abilities. Through its comprehensive website www.UlsterCorps.org, volunteers can choose from a wide range of opportunities to serve the needs of others, from one-time events to ongoing commitments that meet their abilities, interests and time availability. Volunteers can also register online for e-newsletters and Action Alerts that notify them of timely events in need of community support. Nonprofit agencies and other engaged groups can find information about collaborative initiatives on our website.
Since 2009, UlsterCorps volunteers have:
- Hosted an annual Service Summit which brings together over 70 community leaders from the nonprofit, business, higher education and governmental sectors to address the work and value of volunteerism and collaborative projects in Ulster County. This year’s Summit, our seventh, focused on volunteer-led initiatives to address hunger, food insecurity and poor nutrition. The program included presentations and a panel discussion with representatives of local Farm to Food Pantry and Urban Farm Programs as well as related programs from other parts of the region and state. The Summit was designed to provide a platform for identifying and sharing best practices for engaging farms, food pantries and volunteers to bring more nutritious, locally grown food to those most in need in our community, reduce transportation costs, and keep wholesome food out of the waste stream. The Summit, which is free to participants, is part of the on-going work of UlsterCorps to deepen the knowledge about volunteerism and to find ways to strengthen a culture of service and collaboration in Ulster County;
- Built a dedicated corps of 75 volunteers, our Glean Team, to assist with harvesting, processing and distributing produce donated by local farms to Ulster County food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens. Since its founding the Glean Team has been directly responsible for distributing over 50,000 lb of fresh local produce, and has provided additional volunteer support, coordination and recognition for the Farm to Food Pantry collaborative led by the Rondout Valley Growers Association and Family of Woodstock which together collected and distributed over 63,000 lb of produce in 2015, and over 290,000 lb of produce since 2009;
- Served Together as the U-Team, an active and vital community of volunteers who serve as “first-call responders” for urgent events, projects and last minute community needs;
- Assisted other local non-profits through our Volunteer Coordination Team, a corps of volunteers who can help agencies coordinate short and long term events and assist with key aspects of volunteer management during a disaster, including operating a volunteer reception center, placing spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers, and inter-agency coordination;
- Collected and distributed new or gently used coats, suits, hats, mittens, holiday gifts and other agency wish list items for those in need in our community;
- Matched thousands of volunteers with service opportunities during National Days of Service, including Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service, I Love My Park Day, September 11 Day of Recognition and Service and throughout the year;
- Created an Online Database of 100+ agencies and their needs so volunteers can easily learn about available opportunities and how to connect with them;
- Developed and maintained both interactive and printed maps of volunteer opportunities, food pantries and soup kitchens, farms and farmers markets to help volunteers, and those in need of services, connect;
- Built a community of over 3700 individuals who subscribe to our monthly e-news of upcoming long and short term volunteer opportunities throughout Ulster County;
- Brought together and honored volunteers who give their time and energy to agencies throughout Ulster County at our Annual Celebration of Service
UlsterCorps initiates and supports creative collaborations that seek to educate, inspire, and explore causes and solutions to some of the challenges facing our community. For example:
- The Hunger Project, a coalition of local workers and volunteers from community gardens and farms, gleaners, processors, storage facilities, food pantries and soup kitchens, Ulster County Department of Transportation and BOCES New Vision Health Career Exploration Program, working together to help make the connections that utilize existing resources more effectively and feed more people in our communities.
- Emergency Response and Recovery – UlsterCorps collaborates with the Red Cross, United Way, Ulster County Office of Emergency Management and other local Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) to assess our current capacity and improve our readiness for future emergencies. We have conducted a survey of local agencies and businesses to assess preparedness, volunteer workforce capacity and needs, and are working with the Red Cross to train more local volunteers in sheltering, feeding, bulk distribution, volunteer reception and management, communications and long-term recovery.
- Supporting Youth and Campus volunteer programs which seek to make service a key component of education. UlsterCorps has collaborated with SUNY New Paltz on its annual Make a Difference Day, Alternative Spring Break and September 11th National Day of Service, with SUNY Ulster and Ulster BOCES for MLK National Day of Service. We conduct regular presentations to both college and high school service learning clubs and community service programs, Girls Inc, and have, since our inception, included youth Student Associates on our Board of Directors.
- Arts for Ulster, raising funds and awareness for local non-profits through a collaborative group art exhibit and auction featuring 50 works by 50 artists for 50 causes in Ulster County;
- Harvesting a Lifetime, interviewing and recording the memories, stories, and histories of over 70 seniors (and growing) from around the county;
- The Hudson Valley Hunger Banquet, which brings the world’s food inequalities to life and provides participants a firsthand experience how our decisions affect others in the world;
UlsterCorps also serves as a prototype for grass-roots volunteer initiatives beyond our county’s boundaries.
To learn more, please visit www.ulstercorps.org or contact us at 845-481-0331.
Contact us at:
PO Box 34
Stone Ridge, NY 12484
Thank you so much to our generous supporters!
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