Manchin

CHARLESTON -- The spirit of volunteering among West Virginia's businesses is strong.

Business leaders serve on community boards and committees, and encourage employees to participate in volunteer projects. However, until now businesses in the state have not had a resource to support their corporate efforts around volunteering.

Gayle C. Manchin, First Lady of West Virginia and Commissioner on the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service, has joined several business leaders to create the first West Virginia Business Volunteer Council.

This initiative is dedicated to supporting West Virginia businesses in their volunteer and community involvement efforts. The West Virginia Business Volunteer Council is a coalition of businesses, associations and labor organizations that provides leadership and assistance in meeting community needs through business and employee volunteerism.

Established in April 2006, the founding members of the Council's steering committee believe that volunteerism is essential to the well-being of West Virginia communities and that it is good business to engage employee volunteers in meeting community needs.

There are many benefits to companies who support employee volunteer programs. Company missions and values gain higher community visibility. Companies achieve greater public recognition as community service projects begin to affect serious social issues. Companies gain a greater understanding of the community and its needs, while enabling them to better target the use of their resources.

The Business Volunteer Council is supported through a partnership with the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service, the state's volunteer agency, and Volunteer West Virginia Inc., a non-profit organization. The Commission has developed a web-based matching database at www.volunteerwv.org and a network of community agencies that support volunteer efforts.

The Council plans to use the Web site as a clearinghouse for employees to sign up as volunteers, encourage organizations in their communities to post volunteer opportunities, and log their volunteer hours for their own efforts. This three-pronged partnership of the private sector, government, and non-profit agencies is the approach that works to address communities' pressing needs.

The Council will offer companies training, volunteer opportunities, recognition and other services that facilitate private sector involvement in volunteering.

West Virginia businesses are asked to complete a brief 10-question online survey (www.wvbizvol.com) prepared by the Council. It is designed to gain the views from business people on employee volunteerism and volunteer involvement. Please visit, or ask a representative from your company or organization to visit the Web site and complete the survey.

For more information, contact the Commission at 1-800-WV-HELPS or at www.volunteerwv.org.

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