Volunteer Southwest Michigan to become part of United Way

ST. JOSEPH — Starting March 1, the community volunteer services of Volunteer Southwest Michigan will be transitioning into the work of United Way of Southwest Michigan. United Way will become the community’s resource for promoting, supporting and connecting volunteers to non-profit organizations and faith-based institutions.

“Volunteer Southwest Michigan has served the tri-county area for over 30 years,” said Anna Murphy, president of United Way. “During that time, they’ve helped celebrate and elevate the work of tens of thousands of volunteers. United Way is honored to now carry that torch, and to continue the noble work that VSM has been a champion of for so long.”

This transition will allow VSM to refocus its mission on its two core programs, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Court Mandated Community Service.  “The court mandated program has been a long-standing part of our organization,” said Judi Burnison, executive director of VSM.  “CASA is much newer to us, but presents us with a tremendous opportunity to serve vulnerable children in our community. Focusing on these two programs will allow us to accelerate their growth and increase the impact on those we serve.”

To align with this change, VSM will be changing its name to Family and Court Advocates. The organization’s location and staffing will remain unchanged. Additional information can be found at the new website, familyandcourtadvocates.org.

Absorbing this work will be new for United Way of Southwest Michigan, but not completely unfamiliar, officials said. United Way has been providing volunteer projects and opportunities for decades, including the Day of Action for Seniors, School Supply Spectacular, and a host of smaller projects for specific corporate partners. Last year alone, United Way coordinated over 32,000 hours of volunteer time, worth almost $767,000.

United Way will treat the next several weeks as a discovery phase, where it will reach out to nonprofit organizations, volunteers, and corporate partners to understand the needs and desires they have regarding volunteerism services. 

“We do what we already do very well,” said Murphy, “so that work will certainly continue.  But we also need to find out what the end users want this new line of work to look like.” 

To that end, organizations that have had a long-standing relationship with VSM can expect to hear from United Way in the coming weeks.

United Way of Southwest Michigan seeks to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community by LIVING UNITED. Their goals are to forge unlikely partnerships, find new solutions to old problems and mobilize the best resources. To learn more, visit: uwsm.org or call (269) 982-1700.

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