Get Involved. Get Threaded!

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Community Thread
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Community Thread promotes, supports and encourages volunteerism to meet community needs. Our name symbolizes the belief that each act of service is a thread that ties people, communities and lives together. Community Thread serves residents of the St. Croix Valley in eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin by recruiting, training and mobilizing thousands of volunteers each year to help meet the needs of seniors, adults with disabilities and lower-income families. Since 1967, we’ve sustained volunteerism by connecting people and enriching lives.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Forty-two years ago, a group of concerned women met to talk about needs they saw in their towns – particularly the need for assistance for seniors, adults with disabilities or chronic illnesses, and low-income families. A common thread began to weave through their conversations. The common thread was a belief that each person has something to contribute; that the simple and profound act of volunteering can measurably impact the needs of neighbors, friends and communities.


Today, Community Thread sustains this belief by:

· Building public awareness of the importance of volunteerism;

· Mobilizing volunteers to meet community needs;

· Recognizing volunteers who make a difference in their communities;

· Providing training and technical assistance for volunteers at other nonprofit organizations;

· Matching volunteer drivers with individuals in need of rides to medical appointments;

· Providing wellness services and education programs for senior citizens;

· Distributing food, clothing and gifts to families in need of assistance at the holidays;

· Strengthening neighborhoods through barter exchange programs; and

· Recruiting and training medical professionals for public health and disaster emergencies.


“For four years I cared for my husband after his stroke, and coming to Community Thread was a good break for me. Volunteering in the kitchen and serving 18-20 people lunch two days a week was a lot of hard work, but especially rewarding. I am now 93 (don’t tell anybody) and I still have the fondest memories of you all.” Stories like this are the reason we work so hard to promote community-based volunteerism – the person being served and the volunteer both benefit from the opportunity.


Five years ago, it became clear that outdated technology and lack of a server meant we weren’t able to reach the growing numbers of people interested in volunteering and forming deeper connections within their communities.


The Microsoft Donation Program brought our small nonprofit “out of the dark ages” by enabling us to:

· Upgrade our Microsoft Office products to create professional-quality volunteer recruitment, community outreach and training materials;

· Utilize Outlook to streamline communications and schedules; and keep in touch with volunteers via e-newsletters, e-mail blasts and a web-accessible database of community service opportunities; and

· Install a server to connect staff and volunteer computers, saving countless hours of dealing with IT issues, lack of storage and security, inability to easily share data, and the duplicate work inherent in a non-networked environment.



Microsoft is now the thread that connects our staff and volunteers by streamlining internal processes, increasing our level of professionalism and helping us reach out to the community. Community Thread has significantly increased the number of volunteers being recruited and trained, and deepened the impact of our volunteer-based direct service programs.


Since receiving Microsoft donations, our volunteers have contributed more than 50,000 service hours to their communities. Using Independent Sector’s volunteer time and talent equivalency calculation of $19.51 per hour, we estimate that Community Thread volunteers contributed nearly $1 million in valuable human resources to our community just in the past five years.

Other impacts from the Microsoft Donation Program include:

· More than 4,000 people were connected to volunteer service opportunities.

· Our Senior Centers expanded their impact considerably – from serving 500 seniors in 2004 to more than 15,000 seniors in 2008.

· 257 people transitioning from welfare to work were placed in volunteer positions at local nonprofits and worked a total of 8,570 hours.

· The Medical Reserve Corps increased in size from 23 to 240 members who are trained and remain on call to respond to local, state and national emergencies.

· Our Transportation Program grew by 20%, providing free rides for people with no other means of getting to medical appointments – more than 1,500 rides per year.

· Our Tax Assistance Program went from offering free tax preparation for 236 lower-income families and senior citizens to serving 648 clients this year.

· Members of the Neighborhood Service Exchange provided more than 6,000 service barter exchanges for community residents.

· Through our Holiday Bureau more than 1,400 families, seniors, and adults with disabilities received food, clothing and gifts during the holiday season.


Perhaps most importantly, the Microsoft Donation Program helped Community Thread build its capacity for an anticipated exponential increase in the number of people looking for volunteer opportunities as a result of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and President Obama’s support for volunteer service.


We hope to leverage this next wave of volunteerism to expand the impact of our work even further. However, there is more technology work to be done before we are fully capable of managing the influx of service inquiries and volunteers that will result from the Serve America Act and the approaching retirement of the Baby Boomers.


A Microsoft Impact Story award will be used to upgrade our server and software programs and help support our Volunteer Center, the hub of our program, better positioning us for continued community service through volunteerism.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery