Next big thing

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Since the very first time Victoria Nunes began volunteering to translate mass from English into Spanish at her church, she knew she wanted to stay involved with her neighborhood.

"I value the importance of community-based service," she said. "I can't think of anything better for me to be doing."

In addition to the more than 20 other organizations and boards she serves on, Nunes is part of United Way's new group, GenNext, which focuses on providing volunteer opportunities for young, working adults.

GenNext will have a kickoff party tonight at Park Street Patio. The group will be there to recruit members and discuss upcoming events, including the Franklinton neighborhood improvement project scheduled for Oct. 25.

Over the summer, Vanessa Van Atta, relationship manager at United Way, held focus talks and collaborated with other nationwide branches of the nonprofit association to create the new group.

"We had recognized that we weren't really doing a whole lot to reach out to the younger crowd in Central Ohio," she said. "This is a way to introduce young people to volunteer work and keep them involved."

Unlike other United Way affinity groups, GenNext members are not required to make minimum monetary donations. Instead, the group plans to focus on community service projects.

"We want to make it as accessible as possible for young people to get involved with us," explained Kermit Whitfield, director of communications at United Way of Central Ohio. "Volunteering is our main thing; we didn't want there to be a barrier to anyone's entry."

GenNext requires online registration at; members will receive monthly e-vites to service projects and networking events.

Nunes, who only has a few days a month to herself, said her community service schedule is exhausting, but she wouldn't feel satisfied if she wasn't as engaged. "We are able to do so much more when we empower each other," she said.

GenNext Launch Party

6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2

Park Street Patio, Arena District