National website helps Plateau residents find local volunteer opportunities

Dede Trowbridge and Mike Gordon go through donations at the Pennies from Heaven thrift store, run by Plateau Outreach Ministries. POM promotes volunteer opportunities through the Justserve.org website. Photo by Ray Still

There are many organizations on the Plateau looking for volunteers.

There are also many people willing to serve.

But getting the word out about volunteer events doesn’t always reach the right people, or reach them in time.

That’s why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created the nation-wide but locally-focused website, Justserve.org.

“The church is sponsoring this as a gift for every community across the world. It’s a place and an opportunity for people to post community needs and for people who are seeking opportunities to serve to go,” said LDS member Jeri Gamblin, who helps manage event posts inside her stake, or geographical area, which ranges from Black Diamond to Buckley and Victor Falls in Bonney Lake.

The rules for Justserve.org are few and simple: no political action, engaging in religious instruction or proselytizing, fundraising for businesses and nonprofits, or hosting events that discriminate, Gamblin said.

“It is simply a community-based service program,” she said.

The site is free to use, but to post events or officially respond to posted events, users have to create an account (also free).

The website as a whole has been operational for about five years, but Gamblin has been managing local posts with Amy Molen for about nine months, and has been going around to local city councils to try and drum up interest in the website.

On the Enumclaw side, the Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation, the Senior Center, Plateau Outreach Ministries and the Enumclaw Clothing Bank have already posted various volunteer opportunities on the site, as well as a group that spends a day or two a week cleaning up the city’s Memorial Park.

Gamblin recommended searching for local results by typing in “Enumclaw” instead of the city’s zip code, since the zip code will pull up results as far as Snoqualmie and Issaquah.

So far on the Bonney Lake end of things, only Sumner’s Suds & Duds program, which takes donated laundry soap to wash homeless residents’ clothes, has posted on the site, as well as some opportunities in Puyallup.

Volunteer opportunities can be posted through the website by providing contact information, information about a sponsoring organization (if there is one), and description of the event.

Molen is available at amyfowers@hotmail.com for any questions on posting events.

“People want to serve. They want to help. And when we do serve, our own problems diminish,” Gamblin said. “When we give to other people, our loads become lighter. That’s the beauty of any kind of service.”