West Virginians are caring, giving people. They volunteer their time and resources to help those in need. Most of these volunteers can see the immediate impact of their time spent ─ a patient gets some much-needed TLC, a child learns to read, a family gets a new home. Volunteers for Vision Shared, however, enjoy a different experience, one that may not always show the immediate impact of their work but promises to reveal itself over time as West Virginia’s economy improves and its communities thrive.

In a world of immediate gratification, some may wonder why hundreds of West Virginians volunteer their time for Vision Shared, knowing they may not see the fruits of their labors right away. Often it is months or even years before the work our volunteers do shows results. Changing a state’s economy ─ whether by helping young children get the best start in life, giving entrepreneurs access to the resources they need to be successful or revamping the way we deliver health care ─ is a daunting task. So why do people volunteer for Vision Shared?

Every volunteer has a different answer to that question, but one common thread that runs through is that Vision Shared represents opportunity for all. Vision Shared is a unique organization that gives everyone the opportunity to participate in making West Virginia a more economically competitive state.

Simply put, Vision Shared volunteers are a different breed. We not only encourage all stakeholders to take a seat at the table when we tackle a problem, we require it. We help and encourage people who normally disagree to work together, because if they reach a solution together, the results have a much higher likelihood of being sustainable. The discussions that take place under the Vision Shared umbrella allow for the free exchange of ideas in a safe, respectful environment so we proactively can address West Virginia’s longstanding challenges and opportunities for success.

Randy Huffman, Cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and a longtime Vision Shared volunteer, remarked, “West Virginia needs Vision Shared because [we] take on tough issues in a proactive way. Vision Shared is changing West Virginia for the better.”

Our organization continues to be a critical element in the state’s economic development strategy, and Vision Shared cannot fulfill those responsibilities without its army of thoughtful, motivated, compassionate and talented volunteers.