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Date Posted: 05/04/2017
Governor Wraps Up National Volunteer Week with First Family Challenge
As part of National Volunteer Week (April 23-29), Governor Asa Hutchinson and First Lady Susan Hutchinson issued the “First Family Challenge”, encouraging all able Arkansans to volunteer 10 hours over the next 12 months. Hutchinson recently announced the challenge at CareLink Meals on Wheels as part of the launch of a new website, www.VolunteerAR.org, and social media hashtag #Volunteer10.
“We’re going to volunteer, and we’re challenging all of you to volunteer as well. We’re doing it as a first family,” he said. “We’re also volunteering in the governor’s office. We all are engaged in it and supporting it.
“We want to challenge each of you to participate in this spirit of volunteerism for Arkansas. We can get more accomplished by working together than any other way possible.”
The new website provides Arkansans with a central way to find volunteer opportunities; assists nonprofits in Arkansas in the recruitment of volunteers to address critical social issues; tracks volunteer and community engagement; educates the public about critical social issues and attainable outcomes; and promotes volunteerism and community engagement statewide.
The portal also will serve as a central location where public assistance beneficiaries on programs with a work or volunteer requirement, such as SNAP, can find opportunities to serve and track their hours of service.
The website was developed by the Department of Human Services Office of Communications and Community Engagement in partnership with HandsOn Connect and the Arkansas Governor’s Advisory Commission on National Service and Volunteerism.
“I like the website," Hutchinson said. "It makes it easy to find community service options and figure out where you want to volunteer. We want everyone to participate. Everybody can do something.”
The Governor also challenged state agencies, businesses, faith organizations, and other groups across the state to participate by pledging 10 volunteer hours for each employee or member, which is less than one hour per-person, per-month. In response to that call, more than 140,000 volunteer hours have already been pledged. According to the national organization Independent Sector, one volunteer hour in Arkansas is valued at $19.66, making the pledges announced today worth more than $2.7 million.
Director Cindy Gillespie has pledged the agency's 7,500 employees will commit to 75,000 volunteer hours over the next year. Other organizations pledging hours include
• Arkansas BlueCross BlueShield
• Arkansas Children’s Hospital – 2,500
• Arkansas Department of Education – 3,750
• Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality -350
• Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration – 25,000
• Arkansas Department of Health – 2,000
• Arkansas Department of Human Services – 75,000
• Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism – 8,000
• Arkansas Department of Workforce Services – 8,250
• Arkansas Economic Development Commission – 1,000
• Arkansas Health and Wellness – 1,250
• Arkansas Insurance Department – 1,710
• Arkansas State Police – 9,480
• Ascent Children’s Health Services – 1,000
• Baptist Health – 1,210
• CareLink – 1,000
• Geographic Information Services -100
• KARK Channel 4
• Millcreek Behavioral Health – 500
• Office of Medicaid Inspector General - 300
• Office of the Governor – 500
• UA Little Rock
“With this many hours pledged, volunteers can truly transform this state, and DHS is happy to be a part of that effort,” Gillespie said. “Our agency is full of public servants who want to affect positive change for their communities and neighbors, and that’s exactly what we plan to do.”
The agency will continue to take pledges and encourages organizations to upload volunteer opportunities.
“We need organizations that need volunteers," Gillespie said. "It doesn’t matter if the organization is faith based, non-profit, or whether you are a government agency. We need you to put your volunteer opportunities on the website; short term and long term.”
At the end of the challenge in April 2018, the organizations with the most volunteer hours served will be honored. Organizations wishing to pledge should send an email to volunteerAR@dhs.arkansas.gov. In order for hours to be counted toward an organization’s pledge goal, employees/members must register at www.VolunteerAR.org and log their hours on the site.