Web Opens World to Digital Volunteers
If volunteering is on your list of New Year's resolutions but your time is short, cyberservice may be the answer. Just ask Laurie Moy, who now runs an international nonprofit organization. Her service started with an interest in international issues and an Internet connection.
Moy, now the executive director of Pearls of Africa, an organization that serves people with disabilities in Uganda, became an online volunteer three years ago. The Internet makes volunteering easier than ever: You don't have to move across the globe to make a difference, Moy says.
She discovered the opportunity through
"People are engaging in communities internationally" through the Internet, says Bea Bezmalinovic, head of NetAid.org's online volunteering program. "Ten years ago this would not have been possible."
Bezmalinovic says that while the time people have to volunteer is declining, virtual volunteering offers a way for people to adapt volunteering to their schedules. As access to the Internet expands, more people are signing up.
"I never dreamed it would have taken me this far," Moy says. "I log on and I have e-mail from all corners of the globe and we are working on one path together."
"The schools we're connecting to the Internet would not be able to bridge the digital divide for ten years," Anderson says.
His 100 volunteers, whom he recruits through NetAid, help gather and test computers to ship them to the schools. Volunteers in the various countries also offer technical support.
One of these groups is
"We encourage people to do traditional mentoring, but if that is not an option, we offer another way," says James Green, executive director. "This way has time and geographic advantages." Using technology, NetMentors is a vehicle for students to get in contact with individuals they wouldn't normally have access to.
Amye Love, an elementary schoolteacher and a NetMentor volunteer for the past three years, can participate from anywhere at anytime. In less than one hour each week, she helps several students make career choices by answering questions on what it takes to be an educator.
"Kids today rely so much on their computers," Love says. "It's an interesting technique that will take off."