by CHRISTINE FERNANDO
Next year is a big one for the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network (CBVN). In August, after 19 years as assistant coordinator, Lucy Schaich was named coordinator of the organization. Now, as Schaich heads into her 20th year, CBVN is turning 40.
The CBVN connects volunteers to organizations needing help, while also offering resources to those organizations. The network got its start on the heels of the late-1970s recession. “There was a lot of need for people relying on the services of nonprofits and no place to find out how to resource those nonprofits,” Schaich, 47, says. “That is, until the volunteer network.”
With the support of then-Mayor Frank McCloskey, the network started in 1980 as the Bloomington Volunteer Action Center with a total of 80 partner organizations. At the time, Bloomington was only the second U.S. municipality with such an organization; the other was New York City.
Today, the CBVN has more than 340 partner organizations. “Bloomington is now run on the power of volunteers,” Schaich says.
Lately, Schaich says, she’s been outlining goals for the next four decades. Those include organizing more engagement and outreach trainings, holding more partner gatherings, helping partner organizations attract more volunteers, and creating an environment that keeps volunteers coming back.
Schaich says she wants to develop better data measures to quantify the reach and impact of the CBVN while expanding its partner newsletter, blog, and website. She’s also working to attract more volunteers who can offer nonprofits specialized skills like marketing and graphic design.
Beverly Calender-Anderson, director of the City’s Community and Family Resources Department, says her goals include continuing to exchange ideas with volunteer networks in other cities, collaborating with Indiana University, and working with local businesses to form employee volunteer groups.
“We just want to continue to branch out in the community and form this really cohesive network,” Calender-Anderson says.
The network will host its annual Be More Awardsto honor local volunteers by presenting 10 awards and a $500 check to each of the recipients’ volunteer organizations. The event date is to be announced, but a call for nominations opened December 1.
For more information, visit bloomington.in.gov/volunteer.