The Rapidian

Mygrcitypoints teams up with Heart of West Michigan United Way

mygrcitypoints and Volunteer Center GR team up with volunteer incentives
LeMark Payne, director, Diversity & Inclusion at Spectrum Health, one of the organizers of the MLK Day of Service.

LeMark Payne, director, Diversity & Inclusion at Spectrum Health, one of the organizers of the MLK Day of Service. /Julie Tamblin

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How to participate in Mygrcitypoints

You can learn more about how to collect mygrcity points as you volunteer at mygrcitypoints.com.

Volunteers will have freshly painted tables ready to distribute in the spring.

Volunteers will have freshly painted tables ready to distribute in the spring. /Julie Tamblin

Volunteers worked on MLK day to get picnic tables ready for spring.

Volunteers worked on MLK day to get picnic tables ready for spring. /Julie Tamblin

Many Grand Rapids city residents have been collecting mygrcitypoints for recycling and redeeming them at local businesses. But now, in phase two of this successful civic engagement program, all area residents (not just city residents) can receive points redeemable at Local First businesses for participating in selected volunteer activities.

Through a new partnership with Heart of West Michigan United Way's Volunteer Center, mygrcitypoints users can find select volunteer activities through HandsOn Connect, an online volunteer management system.

"Our HandsOn online volunteer management program will easily allow organizations to post opportunities, communicate with volunteers, and track volunteer participation," said Maureen Noe, President/CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way. "The volunteering component adds an excellent way for nonprofits to gain new supporters, so we encourage all area nonprofits to get involved with this endeavor." 

When new or existing users at mygrcitypoints login, they will find a new link with the United Way's HandsOn Connect program and an easy-to-sort set of volunteer opportunities. By linking the account with HandsOn Connect, users collect points for participating in these volunteer activities.

To celebrate the launch of this City and United Way partnership, volunteers participated in a number of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service volunteer events. There was the "Book Sorting Bash" at the Kent District Libraries, the Blanford Nature Center Outdoor shrub hauling activity, and Comprenew's Disassembly of Computers event. Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity also had an MLK Day Volunteer event, as did NextGen United Way (blood drive) and Senior Neighbors (painting).

"Heart of West Michigan United Way places tremendous value on partnerships between public and private entities and individuals," Noe pointed out.

Heather Kaweck, volunteer coordinator at Friends of Grand Rapids Parks,  helped organize volunteers around an effort to make city parks a pleasent place to picnic. "Basically the city collected the tables in the fall from local parks to dry out and be painted over the winter.  In the spring they will again be dispersed throughout the city .  This is the first MLK event Friends of GR Parks have participated in and it is going very well," she said.  

The City's partnership with United Way has been in planning for more than a year. The linked web platforms have been in beta testing since September, and the launch on MLK Day was the initial program release. Jasmine Olsen, city technology professional, walked observers through a demonstration of the software at Tuesday morning's press conference. Individuals can easily register and begin earning points, and can even donate those points to special campaigns - such as the City Parks campagin.

"Starting today and running through March 31, anyone that earns points from recycling or volunteering, can contribute points to their favorite city park," said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. "The three parks with the most points will receive money to be used for park enhancements. The leading points recipient park will receive up to $50,000 for a park makeover. The 2nd and 3rd runner-up recipients will receive up to $10,000 each. Awards will be announced in the spring, and park improvement projects will begin soon thereafter."

Olsen pointed out that businesses and foundations are encouraged to participate in this new Campaigns feature. Interested agencies with volunteer opportunities will be able to voice their interest and submit their ideas for future campaigns through the mygrcitypoints.com website.

 

 

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