CUMBERLAND — The base of operations for the Volunteer Center of Allegany County remains in downtown Cumberland. These days, however, a new body is serving as the face of the organization.

Donna Pruitt, who joined the nonprofit organization’s board of directors in April, has been appointed as the acting executive director. It’s a part-time position and she has agreed to fill the position on, not surprisingly, a volunteer basis.

“This is the area in which I want to enter,” Pruitt said last week, her first on the job. “I graduated from Allegany College of Maryland in May 2009 and transferred up to Frostburg State University. I’m studying to be a social worker. I love being able to help people.”

Her role might appear to be simple but is a complex web of professional relationships, during which Pruitt expects to get to know volunteers and clients’ needs alike.

“I’ll help fill the need that is desperately out there,” Pruitt said of civic and nonprofit organizations’ needs for volunteers in the community. “So far, I’m talking to different organizations, recruiting some (volunteers and) letting others know, ‘hey, we’re back up and running and active’ and requesting calendars for their events for in the future.”

While a temporary assignment, Pruitt said she’s thinking about applying for the permanent position. Regardless of how long she’s there, chances are Pruitt will make a quick impact in her new role. While at ACM, she was one of eight female students honored as a Focus on Women award recipient. The award is given annually to students who exhibit leadership skills and an exceptional ability to juggle the demands of going to school, raise a family and contribute to the community.

Pruitt and board vice president Bill Devlin said the organization was overwhelmed when Marilyn McKenzie, former executive director and director for Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, tried to fill both roles, each of which is a part-time job.

“We found there was more that needed to be done than one person can handle,” Devlin said. “There was not enough time for Marilyn to handle things.”

McKenzie remains RSVP director, Devlin said, which is a grant-funded position.

Pruitt said the push now is to recruit volunteers, of which there are about 50 steady people while dozens more volunteer for various community events, such as the County United Way’s Day of Caring and Sharing.

“There’s people that might not know that (this) organization’s there,” Pruitt said of wide-ranging volunteer opportunities. “It might be something they’re interested in. We have new people coming in and out of Cumberland all the time.”

With the holiday season rapidly approaching Pruitt said the call for volunteers will be as strong as ever. There are several organizations who need help, Pruitt said, from the Western Maryland Food Bank, the Salvation Army and the annual Toys for Happiness drive. People also are needed to visit seniors in nursing homes.

“Sometimes we forget that the difference between somebody making it through Christmas, especially for seniors or homebound (residents), needs somebody just to let ‘em, even if it’s just a card, to say, ‘hey, we appreciate you.’”

The organization’s new Web site is partly operational and can be visited at www.volunteerallegany.org Pruitt can be reached by phone at (301) 724-7116 ext. 10 or by e-mail at volunteercenter@allconet.org.

Kevin Spradlin can be reached at Contact Kevin Spradlin at kspradlin@times-news.com.

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