Volunteers contribute their time and efforts every day to worthwhile causes in every corner of the world, selflessly working to make the world we live in better, safer, and equal for all. Now, their time and busy schedules will get a little easier to manage, thanks to the work of one West Virginia University alumnus.

Too often volunteer hours go undocumented, leaving volunteers at pains to prove their hard work to employers and schools. Many a freshman has volunteered his or her time only to find that it cannot be proven once he or she reaches senior year and wants to apply to graduate schools and jobs. A simple solution to these problems can be found in the new website founded by Arvind Dixit called Volunteer Us.

This website aims to sign up as many volunteer organizations as possible. Then, volunteers of that organization can keep track of their volunteer hours online, with minimal input from both parties.

Volunteers can go to the website to search for volunteer opportunities, and afterward, a verification request is sent to the organization via its account on the website and by e-mail to ask how long that volunteer actually participated. The data then gets put into a PDF that can be easily printed out, so that the volunteer has a permanent record of volunteer activities that is documented and has been authenticated by Volunteer Us. Employers and others will then know for certain that the number of hours worked by that volunteer is legitimate.

“The goal here is to legitimize volunteer hours and make them easily documented for volunteers and organizations,” Dixit said. “We want to get off the ground here in Morgantown and prove that we are a worthwhile company, before expanding nationwide.”

Despite the fact that his undergraduate degree was in biology, Dixit credits Kevin Lee, a teaching assistant professor in biology at WVU, with teaching him how to think outside the box and apply the skills he learned to help his community. In the future, Dixit hopes to continue his education and pursue either a Ph.D. in immunology or a medical degree.

For the moment, however, he wants to focus on his website, which launched Feb. 8. Dixit is moving as fast as possible to sign up organizations, with the help of his vice president for Operations, Sam Boyce, a philosophy major at WVU who plans to attend law school after graduation.

So far, they have made good progress in their efforts. The Mountaineer Boys & Girls Club, the Mylan Park Foundation, Pace Enterprises, the Mountaineer Spay & Neuter Assistance Program and the local branch of the American Red Cross have all signed up for the site. The Red Cross will have more than 60 volunteer opportunities available on Volunteer Us over the next 9 weeks alone. Dixit hopes for more local branches of national organizations to sign up, as that could make expansion easier in the future.

Despite only being operational for one month, Volunteer Us has already supplied volunteers for some events in the area, and more organizations are signing up every day. The organizations that sign up are screened and approved before being allowed access to the site, to ensure that the organization is legitimate and that the contact person on the account is actually who they say they are. They will then have the benefit of easy interaction with their volunteers and a way to keep track of how many volunteer hours their organization has accumulated.

Accounts for both volunteers and organizations are completely free, and the company has a strict privacy policy that will not allow for spam e-mails or the selling of personal information. Dixit hopes to profit in the future by selling ad space on the site, but that step will probably not come for several years. He also hopes to use the site to lobby for volunteer hours to be tax deductible, at some point in the future.

In the mean time, the company is focusing on recruiting organizations. The website is very easy to use, and Dixit has been sitting with interested organizations to teach them how to use the site’s services.

Dixit encourages volunteers to join the site and stay with it while the company searches out further volunteer opportunities.

“Lots of jobs and programs want you to have experience before they will hire you or take you on, but how can you get experience if no one will hire you?” he said. “One of the ways to do that is through volunteer experience, and many of the organizations we are working with hire from within.”

To create an account, volunteers and organizations alike can visit Volunteer Us at www.volunteerus.com.

For more information, contact Arvind Dixit, founder and CEO, at adixit@volunteerus.com.



CONTACT: Rebecca Herod, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
304-293-7405, ext. 5251, Rebecca.Herod@mail.wvu.edu

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