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LARSON: Letter leads to website for Volunteer Gwinnett

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

While I'm on a roll with volunteer columns, I'd like to give a shoutout to Volunteer Gwinnett, which is not only proof of the power of the Internet, but also a testament to the power of the local paper.

The Georgia Press Association recently asked politicians and public figures to write guest editorials on the importance and impact of local papers. Well, no one asked me, but here's one more.

In 2010, Tom Kincaid wrote a letter to the editor in the Gwinnett Daily Post suggesting that volunteers could help assist their government through its financial struggles.

"When I wrote it, I didn't know it would lead to anything or even be printed," Kincaid said. "The editor added the caption 'Step Up and Help the County.' Those six words from the Post editor spoke to me and said to me don't just talk about it, get involved. Do something to help make Gwinnett a better place."

While he was mulling over what he could do, another Post reader, Don Hoppe, contacted him. Since they both ran online businesses, they started out not only speaking the same language but also being on the same page.

"Our conversation turned into a dedicated online hub where ministries, nonprofits, animal rescue groups, food co-ops, local municipalities and qualified organizations using volunteers or requesting donations can post opportunities and needs free in one central location," Kincaid said.

Kincaid and Hoppe began gleaning every bit of information they could from the Daily Post, including my column. In fact, that is exactly how Kincaid and I met when he responded to a column I had written about Huffman House, letting me know he had added its link to his website.

Through Jim Davidson, their webmaster, they linked to the Gwinnett County website in order to complement each others' efforts.

"Listings are and always will be free, and of course it is also free to browse and find ways to help," Kincaid said, noting that they try to make people aware of everything out there so they can find a volunteer opportunity that fits their personality and skills.

Kincaid uses himself as the perfect example.

"Yes, I can always pick up sticks or drive nails into boards, but I run a couple of online businesses and this is just in my blood," he said. "And I get to help our community in a way that best utilizes my skills."

Volunteer Gwinnett posts everything from one-time fundraisers like bake sales and fun runs to established charities with ongoing needs. Results have been remarkable. When Habitat for Humanity posted, its phones started ringing almost immediately.

"I invite all qualified organizations to post their information on our forever free listing and see what happens," Kincaid said.

And while his Internets posts have proven to be a very powerful tool, Kincaid extends a special thanks for those original six words in that Gwinnett Daily "post."

To post your information, go to www.volunteergwinnett.org.

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.

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