By Ann McCreary
A new website, VolunteerMethow.org, was unveiled last week to make it easier for community members to get involved with local nonprofit and community organizations.
The website was created by local software developers, working with the Methow Conservancy.
All Methow Valley community groups are invited to freely use the website to feature volunteer tasks and promote involvement with their organizations, according to information from the Conservancy.
Each organization has a profile page where people can learn more about the organization. People can find volunteer activities using a calendar feature, or view tasks that match up with their favorite local causes and organizations, their unique skills, or what can be done at home.
The valley-wide website was voluntarily created by Neil and Kelli Rostan, a husband-and-wife software development team from Winthrop, after the idea was first discussed at a Methow Conservancy “GenNxt” gathering early in the winter.
The GenNxt (Generation Next) Project is an effort to engage, learn from and support the next generation of young adults in the community.
At a January meeting, a large group of people in their 20s and 30s said they were interested in learning more about how organizations are working to address issues they care about, and how they can get involved.
They agreed that a central online hub for Methow Valley organizational information, volunteer activities and documents would be a great way for not just their generation but for any community member to learn about all the diverse organizations active in the Methow Valley and what volunteer opportunities are available.
Neil and Kelli Rostan were present for this discussion and at the end of the meeting they approached Conservancy staff and offered to help create the website.
A prototype of the site debuted at the Conservancy-sponsored “Community Engagement Fair” on March 27. The fair was designed to connect community members with Methow Valley nonprofit organizations.
In April, with financial support from The Methow Valley Fund of the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, the Conservancy held free training sessions for local organizations on how to use the VolunteerMethow.org website. People representing 25 organizations attended these sessions.
Neil Rostan created a video tutorial for all the other groups. It’s thought that there are at least 80 nonprofit organizations and community groups active the Methow, plus some government entities that encourage volunteer involvement like Pearrygin Lake State Park, according to Methow Conservancy.
Currently, there are 21 organizations active on the website, with more groups joining. The Rostans said their love of the Methow and eagerness to help was the driving force behind “a desire to encourage more individual involvement with local community organizations and make it easy for volunteers to push forward community action one task at a time.”