Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 16, 2013

United Way launches iPhone app for volunteering

TRAVERSE CITY — iPhone users who want to find local volunteer opportunities through the United Way now can get information at the tips of their fingertips.

The United Way of Northwest Michigan Volunteer Center launched an iPhone application to match people with services in Grand Traverse, Antrim, Benzie, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties. The volunteer center currently works with 248 nonprofits in the region.

“Several years ago we developed an online presence,” said Executive Director Steven Wade. “But websites aren’t enough anymore, and so by having a smartphone app, it’s one more way for people to search for opportunities when they want them, when they need them.”

The free application displays current volunteer opportunities presented as pins on a map that users can click on to find out more. A button allows people to call or email the organizations. Opportunities are organized by human services, environment, arts and other.

A quick search near Traverse City revealed the YMCA seeks a teen dance chaperone to pass out pizza and beverages, and the History Center needs a gift shop attendant.

“How much time do we spend on our phones where we sit down and you’re waiting for your oil to get changed, and you’re just thinking, ‘You know what, it’s going to be nice this weekend,’ or, ‘The kids have a day off from school. What can we do together?’” Wade said.

United Way launched the application three weeks ago, and nonprofits continue to be added. There’s no charge for agencies to use the volunteer center and organizations who wish to list projects should call the United Way, Wade said.

An Android application also is under construction. People may still call the United Way or visit their website for volunteer listings, “but this is just one more way for people to find those opportunities,” Wade said.

To download the app, search “Volunteer Northwest Michigan” in your iPhone App Store.

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