As the Director of Volunteer Oxford, Sarah Ball is the driving force behind community volunteerism and the connection between volunteers and nonprofits.
“My daily life is following up with groups or individuals and linking them with a nonprofit they’re interested with,” Ball said.
Volunteer Oxford also hosts projects, such as this year’s Sept. 11th program at the veterans home.
“It was really great to be able to interact with the residents there and provide a program for them and have our volunteers come out and visit with the residents,” Ball said. “It was touching to see that.”
These community-wide events are known as “Days of Service,” and Volunteer Oxford ensures their success by recruiting volunteers via e-newsletters, a radio show and social media.
Ball said they create an event committee that well represents the community.
“We have members from various organizations, from the university, from the city, from the county on our committees,” she said, “and we try and come together and get a project that is something really needed in our community that a lot of people can get involved with. It’s a big team approach. It’s not just Volunteer Oxford”
The next ‘Day of Service’ will be Oct. 25 at Sardis Lake. Volunteer Oxford is partnering with the Corps of Engineers to do a cleanup project.
“We’re hoping to get huge numbers, as it is a need to beautify our community and our local lake,” Ball said.
Ball said they have more than enough volunteers.
“There is never a shortage, with the university and all our residents,” she said.
But she’d like to see more people who have never volunteered before get involved.
Ball said Volunteer Oxford works to inform the public about volunteer opportunities at more than 90 agencies in the city and county.
“There is need out there,” she said, “and I think Volunteer Oxford has done a great job promoting all these nonprofits’ needs and their opportunities.”
Ball previously served as director of Special Olympics in Oxford.
“Special Olympics is one of the agencies for Volunteer Oxford,” she said. “And that’s how I found out about Volunteer Oxford when it first started. I really like the nonprofit sector, so when this job came open, I thought, ‘What a great opportunity.’”
Volunteer Oxford started three years ago when Volunteer Mississippi asked the city of Oxford about hosting a volunteer center in Oxford.
“There was no central place for people to sign up to volunteer,” said Arledia Bennett, RSVP project director. “A lot of people in the town volunteered, but there wasn’t any central tracking of it. That’s when the city agreed to do the grant for Volunteer Oxford.”
The grant allowed Volunteer Oxford to strengthen community ties.
“Sarah does a great job,” said Bennett. “She’s a real easy person to work with, and I know the students really enjoy being a part of Volunteer Oxford.
“She’s a major force when it comes to getting students involved and the other members of our community involved with volunteering. It’s been a pleasure to work with her.”
For more information on volunteering, visit: volunteeroxford.org