NewsColumbine: 25 Years Later


When you volunteer, ‘you get more than you give’: Here are some ways to get involved in Colorado

Denver7 reached out to Mile High United Way for advice on ways Coloradans can volunteer.
Posted: 7:00 AM, Apr 18, 2024
Updated: 2024-04-19 22:08:03-04
Columbine day of service.jpg

As we mark 25 years since tragedy unfolded at Columbine High School, the families involved and others connected to it say the legacy of the community is hope, acts of kindness and service – not the events of one horrible day in April of 1999.

Every April 20 since 2017, the Columbine community holds a day of service – an event that has gone global. It’s to show that “we’re more than our darkest day,” according to Jeff Garkow, who is a teacher at the school.

To learn more about this year’s day of service, go here.

In the spirit of their mission, we reached out to Mile High United Way – part of a worldwide network of nonprofits – for advice on other ways to volunteer beyond April 20. We spoke with Chelsea Carver, the organization’s chief development officer, for insight.

Did you know?

Mile High United Way was the very first United Way, founded in Denver in 1887.

The need for volunteers

Nonprofits of course benefit from financial contributions, but Carver said the need is much greater than that.

“So much of what we do to invest in our community, to support our community, comes from people's time and their energy and their brains, their hearts,” she said. “That's not something you can quantify with a checkbook.”

Carver said volunteerism suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic as people avoided public gatherings. Volunteer numbers are increasing, she said, but still haven’t reached pre-pandemic levels.

The impact of volunteering

Mile High United Way logged 19,000 volunteer hours in 2023, Carver said. That amount of service equals $640,000 in economic impact, according to the organization’s internal formula.

“That's $640,000 [we] don't have to raise to meet the needs of our community,” Carver said.

Acts of service, though, should also be rewarding for the volunteer as well as the community.

“I think the best thing I've ever heard about volunteering is that you really do get more than you give,” Carver said. “Whatever amount of time that might be, whatever amount of sweat that might be, the joy that you will feel from finishing whatever that project is, is just unbeatable.”

How to get started

Carver said the best volunteers are the ones who are ready to jump in. If you’re not sure where to start, she said to just reach out to nonprofit networks like Mile High United Way or pick up the phone and call a nonprofit you’re interested in.

Next week, April 22-26, is National Volunteer Week 2024. Mile High United Way has events each day of the week, with Friday being a national day of service – but National Volunteer Work is a nationwide event that encourages participation from nonprofits and volunteers alike across the country.

For some inspiration, there are several volunteer dashboards people can check out to find opportunities to help around Colorado year-round:

Mile High United Way
Mile High United Way (MHUW) focuses on three priorities: Children, education and economic opportunity. The organization helps people in need directly – roughly 135,000 called last year, Carver said – and connects people to volunteer opportunities. They also accept donations and encourage public policy work. MHUW serves seven counties in and around the Denver metro.

Visit the Mile High United Way volunteer dashboard here.

Spark the Change
Spark the Change connects volunteers to various opportunities, offers direct service programs as well as resources and training for nonprofit volunteer programs, according to its website. It also offers corporate social responsibility training for companies. Spark the Change serves the entire state of Colorado.

Visit the Spark the Change volunteer dashboard here.

VolunteerMatch calls itself “the web’s largest and most popular volunteer recruiting platform,” using technology to connect interested volunteers to opportunities to serve.

Visit the VolunteerMatch volunteer dashboard here.

Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America Colorado (VOAC) offers services including “housing and emergency shelters, hunger and nutrition services, and many other community support programs,” according to its site. It says it is a faith-based organization offering more than 50 human services programs. VOAC connects volunteers to programs in northern Colorado, the Denver metro and southwest Colorado.

Visit the Volunteers of America Colorado volunteer dashboard here.