Activate Indy aims to connect groups with volunteer work

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A new organization, Activate Indy, wants to be a bridge between group volunteerism and local organizations in need.

“Activate Indy is a project to help get people volunteering in the city of Indianapolis,” creator Craig Smaagaard said. “I’ve observed people wanting to give back but not knowing how to do it. We identified that need and created a program that can link organizations to people who have an interest in giving back and volunteering but don’t know where to start.”

Smaagaard works for Thrivent Financial and is the regional vice president of the Great Lakes/Mid America Region and president of the Mid America Thrivent Member network board. His team created the program, and the board supports the initiative.

Nine local nonprofits have signed on to provide the volunteer experience. They are Million Meal Movement, Grace Care Center, Student Impact of Westfield, Youth for Christ, Hope Center, Sheltering Wings, Wheeler Mission, Lutheran Child and Family Services and Shepherd Community Center.

“They are ready to take volunteers to help them, and then we partnered with a group called Selfless.ly, which is a platform connecting the volunteer opportunities with the volunteer,” said Smaagaard, a Westfield resident. “It’s a website that people can register through and then sign up directly with the nonprofit. This is all powered through our website.”

Activate Indy focuses on groups looking to volunteer rather than individuals.

“The whole concept is to have small groups of people experience volunteerism together,” Smaagaard said.

The organization recently held a kick-off event at the Biltwell Event Center, with each of the participating nonprofits represented. Allison Melangton, CEO of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee, was the keynote speaker.

“We wanted to offer everybody the opportunity to sign up a group during our kickoff event,” Smaagaard said. “We had 150 groups attend and 107 groups signed up, which is a great start.”

For more, visit activateindy.com.

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