United Way Awards 14 All-Volunteer Groups Changemaker Grants

United Way of Greater New Bedford is kicking off National Volunteer Week April 17-23 with the award of $27,500 in Changemaker Grants to 14 all-volunteer groups to answer community needs with creative solutions that are engaging, community-driven, and foster unity through action.

“Volunteerism is a pillar of our work at United Way,” said Victoria Grasela, VP of Marketing & Community Engagement. “Changemaker Grants allow us to support volunteer ideas and let them lead change in Greater New Bedford.”

All-volunteer groups were eligible to apply for grants up to $2,500 to carry out projects. This year’s groups will complete projects ranging from community gardens to care kits for the homeless to neighborhood clean-ups and improvements. For a full list of projects, visit www.unitedwayofgnb.org/changemaker-grants.

In addition to Changemaker Grants, United Way offered those looking to give back to the community a chance to do just that earlier this month. On April 9, United Way hosted its  second annual Hunger Heroes to package meal packs for students who are food insecure. More than 120 volunteers packaged 1,000 meal packs that will be distributed by school districts in Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Freetown, New Bedford, and Wareham in time for school vacation week. Meal packs included items such as cereal, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and granola bars.

“Volunteers are at the heart of United Way and their caring spirit really shines during events like Hunger Heroes or our Days of Caring,” Grasela said. “It’s a chance for people of all ages and abilities to give their time to help others.”

United Way anticipates the number of people looking to volunteer will increase now that the weather is warming up. Those looking to volunteer are encouraged to utilize Volunteer SouthCoast (VSC) to find local opportunities across the region. Since 2013, United Way has offered VSC, a free tool, for volunteers looking for opportunities and organizations looking for volunteers. Visit www.volunteersouthcoast.org to get started.