|Since its founding in 1973, The Volunteer Center has had one overall mission: forging partnerships to improve the quality of community life in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford. The Center (then called Voluntary Action Center) was founded by Betsy Rich with the help of Junior League of Stamford-Norwalk and United Way of Stamford.
The first priority of The Center was recruiting volunteers to serve nonprofit agencies. By 1980, over 1000 volunteers were being referred yearly to almost 300 agencies - a level that has been maintained ever since.
The Center has been a member of the United Ways of Stamford and Darien since 1974 and of Greenwich and New Canaan since 1983. Betsy Rich was the founding executive director of The Center. She was succeeded by Marilyn Murphy, who retired in 1989. Rusty Hunter led the Center from 1990 through 1993, and was succeeded in 1994 by Roberta K. Eichler.
Significant events in the history of The Volunteer Center are:
2010 - A completely redesigned user friendly intuitive website was launched. The Volunteer Center receives the Advocate Award from United Way of Western Connecticut.
2009 – An updated website was launched. The Center becomes a member of the Hands On Network and works on a Reading Garden project with UBS for KT Murphy elementary school. Participates as a planning partner and participant at the Stone Soup Event, resources for Stamford families attended by over 2000. The Volunteer Center offered a two day Grantwriting workshop from Grants USA in collaboration with Purdue in which 65 attended. The Center established a
partnership with the Greenwich Library, Greenwich United Way, Community Answers, and Junior League of Greenwich to promote the Library’s Foundation
Center, which offers the most comprehensive Foundation Center database in the area for searching for grants.
2008 – The Center celebrated its 35th Anniversary with a different spin on the annual Heart of Gold Award Dinner honoring a company, UBS in celebration of Volunteerism. The Heart of Gold Scholarship of $5,000 was awarded to a deserving youth volunteer. The 35th Anniversary celebration continued with a sunset cocktail party “WHITE HOT NIGHT” in the fall. The Center formed a partnership with New Canaan Library to create a Nonprofit Resource Center (NRC), which provides up-to-date resources for nonprofit agencies at the New Canaan Library.
2007 - The Volunteer Center presented the second Heart of Gold Scholarship to a deserving youth volunteer at its annual Heart of Gold dinner. The $5,000 scholarship was named in honor of the Heart of Gold Award recipient: “The James H. Quigley Heart of Gold Scholarship.”
2006 - The Volunteer Center presented the first Heart of Gold Scholarship to a deserving youth volunteer at its annual Heart of Gold dinner. The $5,000 scholarship was named in honor of the Heart of Gold Award recipient: “The Anne M. Mulcahy Heart of Gold Scholarship.”
2005 - The Volunteer Center partnered with the Points of Light Foundation to provide The Volunteer Management Training Series (VMTS) a series of four-six courses on engaging volunteers more effectively in agencies. Thomson became the sponsor for Stamford Volunteer Day.
2004 - The Volunteer Center partnered with local business leaders to present the following workshops: "On-boarding: For Leaders Moving into New Roles" by PrimeGenesis; "Leadership at the Core and on the Edge" by Lee Hecht Harrison; "Volunteers are Vital: Effective Practices for Managing Volunteers" by Diane Rosenthal and Melissa McAteer; and "Strategic Planning" and a series of three workshops on Human Resource Management by The Advocate & Greenwich Time.
2003 - The Center formed a partnership with APT, Inc. to provide a Human Resource Management Workshop Series for nonprofit managers. Purdue Pharma became the first corporate sponsor of Stamford Volunteer Recognition Day. The Volunteer Center celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a gala called Red Hot Night. Volunteer Center Day was celebrated at a Bluefish Game at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport.
2002 - The Center's Website was launched, www.ucanhelp.org, with an online searchable database of volunteer opportunities. The WVC initiated Business to Books starting with an annual read-a-thon followed by Summer Reading Partners. The Center offered a week-long Grantsmanship Center proposal-writing workshop.
2001 - Formed the Nonprofit Resource Center (NRC), which provides up-to-date resources to nonprofit agencies at the Ferguson Library and workshops which increase the management effectiveness of agencies. The Workplace Volunteer Council developed Baskets for Families Achieving Self-Sufficiency.
2000 - Convened community organizations to present the Promise to Our Youth Summit with Colin Powell as keynote speaker. The same year The Center received a Communications Excellence Award for its presentation folders.
1998 - Created the Corporate Partner Sponsorship Program, which encourages companies to provide significant financial support. New Canaan Volunteer Recognition Day and Greenwich Volunteer Recognition Day were launched. Board member, Polly O'Brien, helped form the Workplace Volunteer Council, (WVC) a coalition of businesses that recognize the critical importance of volunteerism. WVC's first initiative was Back to School Clothes for Kids followed by Suds To Go.
1997 - Represented Southwestern Fairfield County at the President's Summit for America's Future in Philadelphia. The same year The Center began an important collaboration with Pro Bono Partnership to offer legal workshops for agency board members and management staff.
1996 - Stamford Volunteer Day was established by Board President, Beth Harvey. The same year, Executive Director, Roberta Eichler, was appointed to Points of Light Foundation's National Council of Volunteer Centers.
1995 - Heart of Gold Award Dinner is founded by Board President, John P. Archer, to recognize the importance of corporate leadership to building healthy communities through volunteerism. The Center won the national Make A Difference Day Award.
1991 - Established Holiday Helpers in partnership with The Advocate and Greenwich Time which matches the holiday needs of local agencies.
1988 - Formed Corporate Volunteers in Action CVIA, (now called Community Volunteers in Action), through which young professionals can participate in a variety of one-time volunteer programs. The same year the Center took part in the formation of ANEVC (Association of New England Volunteer Centers).
1986 - Changed name to The Volunteer Center of Southwestern Fairfield County; became the professional advisor to the area's Corporate Volunteer Council, which facilitates employee volunteer programs and joint business volunteer projects.
1984 - Funding was provided by the Fairfield County Community Foundation to fund the Training Center, which enabled The Center to consolidate and refine its training programs which provide training to individual agencies, workshops for agency boards and trainings for executive staff.
1983 - Created the Item Donation Program (then called the Corporate Resource Program), to administer the equitable distribution of donated goods and equipment.
1981 - Instituted recruitment from the business community to provide short-term technical assistance, board members and training to area agencies.
1980 - DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies) was formed to promote the profession of volunteer administration.
1979 - The Center formed a partnership with Darien United Way & Community Council to launch the annual Darien Volunteer Recognition Day, which provides a public venue for agencies to honor volunteers.
1978 - The Court Program, which allows selected first time offenders to replace fines, penalties or jail sentences with restitution through community service, was instituted in the Superior Court.
1975 - The Center joined the Committee on Training and Employment and the United Way of Stamford in forming the Joint Committee on Community Agency Board Training.
1973 - Founded as the Voluntary Action Center by Junior League of Stamford-Norwalk and United Way of Stamford; started recruiting volunteers for nonprofit agencies.