Connecting the local community to area service agencies and volunteers is the goal of JustServe, a new program in Sedalia that was started by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it is for everyone.
The online program is free to use and includes families, individuals, service clubs, faith-based organizations, plus youth and student groups.
Dr. William E. Decker, the church’s West Central Missouri public affairs representative and JustServe’s local program administrator, said the website is a “clearinghouse ” where groups and organizations can post their service needs and projects.
“Groups and organizations who are looking for service opportunities can go to the site and find opportunities,” he added. “We are open for all sorts of opportunities.”
Decker serves the 65301 zip code area. Helping him with the project are his wife Cindy Decker, Dr. Bryan and Christmas Stringham and Judge Paul Beard.
“The events that we would like to have on there are collaborative throughout the community, involving different organizations and different groups,” Decker said. “(Groups) that are not political, and not-for-profit.”
The project began several years ago and was only recently piloted in the local region. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Kansas City Region decided to try the program. It was so successful in pulling the community together that the Sedalia church began using the program in February.
The online program is beginning to show promise in the Sedalia area. The American Red Cross listed a smoke detector event this past spring that added extra volunteers.
“We posted it on the site and we ended up with four or five people who saw it and came to the event,” Decker said. “Our volunteers were just a part of all the other volunteers that were there.”
The Hayden Liberty Center Association for the Arts Inc., listed a need for volunteers to help with its theatre dressing rooms. The call for volunteers brought an additional seven people, who helped with cleaning, taking out a wall and painting. The Sedalia-Pettis County United Way Day of Caring used the site most recently with good results.
“Paul Beard went to the (Pettis County) Ministerial Alliance not too long ago and spoke to several members,” Decker said.
Because of this, one minister went back to his congregation and told them about JustServe.
“The next day, somebody from the congregation logged onto the site and and saw an opportunity at Bothwell (Regional Health Center) Auxiliary and called and volunteered,” Decker noted. “It is nationwide and there are some communities who have adopted it wholeheartedly. Of course it’s all zip code-driven, so if you log into the site and put in a zip code then you will see what projects are available.
“There are some who are very actively engaged in it, and some who are just getting started,” he added. “It’s a process of course.”
The Deckers and Beard have plans to make presentations about JustServe to different service organizations and community groups.
“We invite them to submit a project to the site,” he added. “As we get the projects on the site, then the idea was to go to organizations including the schools, school counselors, different church organizations and different service organizations and make presentations to them about it.”
Decker said it is a “slow growing process” but he hopes it will become a useful site to everyone in the community.
“We have a very well-organized church structure internationally,” Decker said. “So we have the know-how to do the databases and the computer maintenance, we have all of that. A lot of smaller organizations who might need services just don’t have that infrastructure… . So, we’re trying to provide that infrastructure, and provide it as a community service.”
For those who wish to list a project they can go to JustServe.org, and make an account. They should list their zip code, then submit a project, with the date and time and how many volunteers are needed. Because Decker is the local administrator he will see the project notice and will be able to communicate with the organization by email.
Those who wish to volunteer can view projects by typing in their zip code. If they choose to do so, they can also make an account through an email address or through Facebook.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or on Twitter @flbemiss.