Gunnison Valley Volunteer Opportunities

Local non-profits who are always looking for volunteers

Roberta Marquette-Strain / Senior Staff Writer

The Gunnison Valley offers various volunteer opportunities for community members as well as students. Many of the local non-profits are always in need of extra help within the organization or for events.

“My position has always been that everyone should volunteer in general,” said Dave Wiens, founder and Executive Director of Gunnison Trails, a non-profit trail advocacy group. Wiens believes that whether it is with his organization, the Gunnison Valley Mentors, or the other groups listed here, volunteering is important to take part in.

Gunnison Trails: Gunnison Trails volunteers are able to contribute to the widely used local recreational trails by conducting local trail maintenance, assisting in educating trail users on responsible trail use, working closely with local land managers, and various other trail advocacy tasks.

Trailwork Tuesdays are weekly opportunities for trail work. Volunteers meet at locations such as Hartman’s Rocks to complete trail maintenance that is needed to keep up the overall function of the trails. Volunteers are needed through October.

“The best volunteers are responsible people that can take direction, people who understand the value of trail work, and have a willingness to learn,” said Dave Wiens, founder and Executive Director of Gunnison Trails. “Experienced workers are great too because they can take the reigns and have the education and experience they need for certain projects.”

Wiens added that there are other volunteer opportunities that do not focus specifically on trail work.

“We can use a wide variety of volunteer work,” he said. “Any type of skill that somebody has is another potential volunteer opportunity.”

Wiens explained that for events like the Original Growler, a yearly mountain bike race that occurs in the summer, volunteers are needed to be “the eyes and ears” of the course, running the food and drink station, helping with registration, and other jobs.

Students who are interested in volunteering for Gunnison Trails can visit their website gunnsiontrails.com or send an email to info@gunnisontrails.com.

Those interested in Trailwork Tuesdays should email info@gunnisontrails.com a week in advance to receive updates on the site they will be working on.

Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League (GVAWL): Volunteers for GVAWL get to help the shelter’s furry animals by working with the dogs or cats one on one, or helping out with adoption fairs.

Volunteers can choose to work with cats or dogs, both needing similar care like feeding, cleaning out kennels, and spending time with them. Some animals need to be socialized, meaning to learn how to be around people, so volunteers will also work on that.

Those who offer their time with GVAWL can also assist with adoption fairs and other fundraisers such as the upcoming 5-K Fun Run happening Oct. 29 to serve as course marshals.

Darrah Miller, the volunteer coordinator for GVAWL, said that they look for volunteers who are hardworking, reliable, and out for the animal’s best interest, but most of all, compassionate. Miller mentioned that many of the volunteers they receive are there because they miss their pets at home.

“We are a great outlet to come and give your time that way,” Miller said.

Students interested in giving their time to GVAWL can email info@gvawl.org, contact Miller at 970- 596-2226, or stop by their facility located at 98 Basin Dr. during their regular hours of Wednesday 5-7 pm or Saturday 10 am – 1 pm.

Gunnison Valley Mentors: For those interested in serving as an advocate in the life of a child, working as a mentor for the Gunnison Valley Mentors is the place to go.

“We believe that every child deserves a mentor,” Program Coordinator Aubree Scarff said.

The non-profit is committed to helping out the lives of Gunnison’s at-risk youth. Mentors work one on one with a child to create a relationship and serve as a role model. There are also after school programs as well as summer camps.

Scarff said that anyone who plans on working with children in the future should consider becoming a mentor, but also anybody at all who is willing to help in a child’s life.

Before becoming a mentor, applicants have to go fill out an application with four references, go through a background check, participate in an in-depth interview, and go through mentor training.

To apply to be a mentor, visit gunnisonmentors.com where there is an online application available under the mentoring resources tab on the left-hand side.

Project Hope for Gunnison Valley: Project Hope is a non-profit committed to “supporting, educating and providing confidential advocacy to individuals affected by relationship violence, child abuse, and/or sexual assault,” as stated on their website.

At the moment, volunteers for Project Hope can assist by volunteering for their upcoming HopeFest event Oct. 16. Volunteers can help run games and serve chili. Executive Director Shayla Fenti said that students may be able to receive extra credit from their professors. The deadline for this event is Oct. 4.

Volunteers can also serve as a victim advocate, a position to provide direct services to those who are affected by relationship violence, child abuse, or sexual assault. Project Hope is not able to take any more advocates as of right now, but more positions will be available Fall 2017.

Future advocates should be able to commit a full school year with Project Hope and do not have to have any prior experience.

“[Advocates] learn not only how to provide services to those in need, but also how to make an impact in society around issues of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Fenti said. “This is not an office job filing paperwork, you get real experience both in the office and on the crisis line.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for the HopeFest should call the Project Hope office at 970-641-2712 or email info@hope4gv.org. There is more information on their website, hope4gv.org for future advocates.

Fenti added that anyone who has been affected by relationship violence or sexual assault are able to use the services from Project Hope. An advocate visits the Leslie J. Savage Library room 319 every Monday throughout the school year, excluding holidays and breaks, from 4 to 5 pm. Students can also call their 24/7 hotline at 970-275-1193.

Gunnison Country Food Pantry: The Gunnison Country Food Pantry offers food assistance to people in the Gunnison area who are in the food stamp process, are undocumented, or are dealing with financial problems. Volunteers have the opportunity to connect with these individuals and create a kind environment at the facility.

Volunteers work the Pantry during its open hours as well as help out around the Pantry by restocking and taking inventory of the food and picking up deliveries.

The Pantry is run entirely on volunteers so they look for committed and hardworking individuals as well as people who are kind and compassionate. The non-profit is always open to new volunteers and will be able to find work for anyone.

“If you want a satisfying experience, come here. I will help you,” said Katie Dix, president of the governing board of the pantry.

Possible volunteers can call the Pantry at 970-641-4156, email gunnisoncountryfoodpantry@gmail.com, or stop by the facility located on 321 Main st, the southwest corner of Main and Ohio during their hours, Monday 10 am – 4 pm, Wednesday 10 am – 7 pm, and Thursday 10 am – 2 pm.

No matter what volunteer opportunity you are looking for, Gunnison has a non-profit that can fit your needs.