VPR Inspires Community Generosity
Last November, Vermont Public Radio (VPR) responded to the increasingly difficult local economy by creating Reaching Out, an engagement initiative designed to connect people to local resources and services.
To encourage Vermont citizens to help each other cope with tough times, the station created an on-air series focused on local families struggling with homelessness and economic hardship. They supplemented the series with commentary from local writers and community members encouraging giving and volunteerism, as well as an online community forum and an online list of agencies and available resources. Online, users participated in the forum by answering questions like “How are you reaching out?” and “Where can others lend a hand?”
The over-arching message of Reaching Out was to encourage Vermont citizens to help each other cope with tough times. It empowered people to volunteer time and share personal resources with friends and neighbors.
As word spread about Reaching Out, VPR became known for addressing homelessness, hunger and financial needs. The companion Web site became the place to go for helping others. “I heard this morning that you were addressing the increasing hunger needs in Vermont and just wanted to offer some information that will hopefully be useful,” offered one online contributor.
Now, in addition to being Vermont’s best source for news and classical music, VPR also plays a role as a trusted convener of ideas and resources to help the community. The station continues to seek suggestions about how they can further encourage and inspire citizens during these difficult times.
For more information on VPR’s powerful Reaching Out initiative and a list of local resources, visit http://www.vpr.net/vpr_files/reaching_out or the National Center for Media Engagement’s repository at http://mediaengage.org/repository/index.cfm.