Gunnison Valley Volunteer Opportunities

The Gunnison Valley offers various volunteer opportunities for community members as well as students. Many of the local non-profits are always in need of extra help within the organization or for events.

“My position has always been that everyone should volunteer in general,” said Dave Wiens, founder and Executive Director of Gunnison Trails, a non-profit trail advocacy group. Wiens says he believes that no matter the organization, volunteering is important.

Gunnison Trails:

Gunnison Trails volunteers are able to contribute to the widely used local recreational trails by conducting local trail maintenance, educating trail users on responsible trail use, working closely with local land managers and various other trail advocacy tasks.

Each week, volunteers meet for “Trailwork Tuesdays” at locations such as Hartman’s Rocks to do trail maintenance. Volunteers are needed through October.

“The best volunteers are responsible people that can take direction, people who understand the value of trail work and have a willingness to learn,” Wiens said.  “Experienced workers are great too because they can take the reins, and have the education and experience they need for certain projects.”

Wiens added that there are other volunteer opportunities that do not focus specifically on trail work.

“We can use a wide variety of volunteer work,” he said. “Any type of skill that somebody has is another potential volunteer opportunity.”

Wiens explained that for events like the Original Growler, an annual summer mountain bike race, volunteers are needed to be “the eyes and ears” of the course, run the food and drink station, and help with registration and other jobs.

Students who are interested in volunteering for Gunnison Trails can visit their website or send an email to

Those interested in Trailwork Tuesdays should email a week in advance to receive updates on the site they will be working on.

Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League (GVAWL):

Volunteers for GVAWL help the shelter’s furry residents by working with the dogs or cats one on one or by helping out with adoption fairs.

Volunteers can choose to work with cats or dogs, both needing similar care like feeding, cleaning out kennels and socialization.

Those who offer their time with GVAWL can also assist with adoption fairs and other fundraisers, such as the Oct. 29 5K Fun Run, which needs course marshals.

Darrah Miller, the volunteer coordinator for GVAWL, said that they look for volunteers who are hardworking, reliable and out for the animal’s best interest, but most of all, compassionate. Miller mentioned that many of their volunteers are there because they miss their pets at home.

“We are a great outlet to come and give your time that way,” Miller said.

Students interested in giving their time to GVAWL can email, contact Miller at 970- 596-2226, or stop by their facility at 98 Basin Dr. on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. or Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Gunnison Valley Mentors

For those interested in serving as an advocate in the life of a child, working as a mentor for the Gunnison Valley Mentors is the place to go.

“We believe that every child deserves a mentor,” Program Coordinator Aubree Scarff said.

The non-profit is committed to helping out the lives of Gunnison’s at-risk youth. Each mentor works one on one with a child, forming a relationship and serving as a role model. There are also after school programs and summer camps.

Scarff said that anyone who plans on working with children in the future should consider becoming a mentor, as should anybody who is willing to help in a child’s life.

Before becoming a mentor, applicants must fill out an application, provide four references, go through a background check, participate in an in-depth interview and complete mentor training.

To apply to be a mentor, complete the online application.

Project Hope for Gunnison Valley:

Project Hope is a non-profit committed to “supporting, educating and providing confidential advocacy to individuals affected by relationship violence, child abuse, and/or sexual assault,” as stated on their website.

Volunteers may serve as victim advocates, a position that provides direct services to those affected by relationship violence, child abuse or sexual assault. Project Hope is not able to take any more advocates as of right now, but more positions will be available Fall 2017.

Future advocates should be able to commit a full school year with Project Hope and do not need any prior experience.

“[Advocates] learn not only how to provide services to those in need, but also how to make an impact in society around issues of domestic violence and sexual assault,” Fenti said. “This is not an office job filing paperwork, you get real experience both in the office and on the crisis line.”

Anyone interested in volunteering as an advocate in the future should visit the organization’s website.

Fenti added that anyone who has been affected by relationship violence or sexual assault is able to use the services from Project Hope. An advocate visits the Leslie J. Savage Library room 319 every Monday throughout the school year, excluding holidays and breaks, from 4 to 5 pm. Students can also call their 24/7 hotline at 970-275-1193.

Gunnison Country Food Pantry

The Gunnison Country Food Pantry offers food assistance to people in the Gunnison area who are in the food stamp program, are undocumented or are dealing with financial problems. Volunteers have the opportunity to connect with these individuals and create a kind environment at the facility.

Volunteers work the Pantry during its open hours, restock, take inventory of the food and pick up supplies.

The Pantry is run entirely by volunteers, so they look for committed and hardworking individuals as well as people who are kind and compassionate. The non-profit is always open to new volunteers and will be able to find work for anyone.

“If you want a satisfying experience, come here. I will help you,” said Katie Dix, president of the governing board of the pantry.

Anyone interested can call the Pantry at 970-641-4156, email, or stop by the facility located on 321 Main Street on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

No matter what volunteer opportunity you are looking for, Gunnison has a non-profit that can fit your interests.

Story by Roberta Marquette-Strain

This story was originally published in Top O’ the World on Sept. 30, 2016. 

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 3:45pm