Volunteer Center began as Voluntary Action Center (VAC) of the Coastal Bend following a 1975 conference sponsored by the Junior League that identified a need for a clearinghouse for volunteers. VAC was chartered as a nonprofit entity in May 1976. VAC became a United Way member agency in 1978 and additional support came from local foundations, businesses, churches, civic organizations and individuals. VAC placed individual volunteers in nonprofit agencies and community projects. The community-wide volunteer recognition event, now known as Star Awards, was created to allow nonprofit agencies to honor their outstanding volunteers.
As community needs were identified, new services were added. In 1979 VAC began to assist private nonprofit and public agencies in their search for qualified board members.
Several activities were begun in 1980. That was the year VAC began to work with civic groups looking for meaningful service projects. Also, VAC began placing youth in volunteer positions where they can both give service to the community and gain work experience.
In 1983 VAC began Alternative Community Service. This program places and monitors municipal and federal offenders who are sentenced to community service. Earliest support for ACS came from the Paul and Mary Haas Foundation.
Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Program began in 1985 with grants from the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation. Employees volunteer their talents and efforts in direct service to the community. They develop leadership skills as well as a sense of accomplishment. The corporation enhances its public image through recognition of involvement in worthy community projects and benefits from the esprit de corps among employees.
In 1986 the Management Assistance Program (MAP) became a part of Volunteer Center. Before that MAP had been a program of the Funding Information Library. An advisory committee selected Volunteer Center as the most appropriate agency to incorporate MAP. United Way provided support to Volunteer Center for the implementation and further development of MAP. The next year MAP became the first to receive funding through a Meadows Foundation initiative to develop a system of nonprofit management support programs across Texas. The Coastal Bend Community Foundation and the Kenedy Memorial Foundation supported MAP through the years. In 2005, MAP services were spun off to a coalition of agencies and private sector providers.
New services are initiated in response to community needs. The Center joined H-E-B Grocery Stores, the City of Corpus Christi and other local organizations in l989 to sponsor the first annual Feast of Sharing, a community-wide event in which a sit-down dinner and entertainment are served to anyone who attends. Twelve hundred volunteers are recruited and organized by Volunteer Center to serve and entertain nine to ten thousand diners on Christmas Eve.
Since 1997, JumpStart has been aiding at-risk youth referred by court or school by training them and placing them as volunteers. Their parents receive information on parenting, education and support available in the community.
The first edition of Get Connected: A Guide to Youth Volunteer Opportunities was a book published in 1999 by young volunteers organized by Volunteer Center. In 2005 the Center began publishing updates on the Web site.
In 2000 Volunteer Center began organizing the community to participate in Make A Difference Day, the national day of volunteering. Since then, other national Days of Service have been observed, including Family Volunteer Day, Join Hands Day and Martin Luther King Day.
In June 2003, Volunteer Center assumed Graffiti Wipe-Out from the Junior League. Working in partnership with the Corpus Christi Police Department, volunteers painted over 88,000 square feet of graffiti to reclaim the community from gangs and other vandals. In 2007, CCPD purchased specialized equipment and assigned city employees to address the problem.
Volunteer Center’s disaster plan was tested for the first time in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina victims relocated to the area. The Center’s phone bank referred 1400 volunteers to agencies serving the evacuees.
In 2007, Volunteer Center became part of the nationwide 1-800-Volunteer.org system, an online searchable database to help volunteers find an opportunity just right for them here in the community. Member agencies are being trained to register their volunteer opportunities online.
Volunteer Center of the Coastal Bend Serves Bee, Jim Wells, Kleberg, Nueces and San Patricio Counties.
The mission of the Volunteer Center of the Coastal Bend is to enable volunteers to effectively meet community needs.