When Laramie Main Street Alliance needed volunteers last summer to collect trash after the Downtown Farmer’s Market, a new organization called LASSO Events stepped in to help.
When Whitewater Christian Church needs extra hands to help a Laramie resident with a move, its leaders call LASSO Events.
When Interfaith-Good Samaritan needed assistance with a canned food drive earlier this month, executive director Mike Vercauteren also called LASSO Events.
One of Laramie’s newest non-profits has been one of its busiest during the last few months as it connects organizations that rely on volunteer help with groups of volunteers looking for work to do.
LASSO Events was started by Tim Snowbarger, a transplanted Denverite who moved to Laramie in February. Snowbarger is hoping to eventually start a church affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene denomination, but in the meantime he’s keeping busy with a different mission.
Soon after he moved to town and began getting to know Laramie’s civic landscape, he saw a way to streamline the process of connecting volunteers with non-profits that need help.
“It became evident that there were a lot of organizations in town that could use additional help that a lot of people didn’t know about,” he said. “Or, there are a lot of organizations that have hours to give and don’t always know where to go.”
Snowbarger works with a trio of University of Wyoming students to connect with non-profits, government entities and businesses that can use volunteer help, to find out what their needs are.
Then, they find organizations that want to serve. A website includes a calendar of upcoming opportunities, and LASSO has a roster of about 20 student groups, businesses, families, UW club sports teams, Greek organizations and churches that it turns to.
Grant money allowed LASSO to purchase a resource trailer, which is filled with tools such as rakes and shovels, as well as equipment for hosting events, like tables, chairs and a grill.
“LASSO itself doesn’t have its own community projects, nor does it have its own set of people looking to be involved,” Snowbarger said. “It’s the middleman to get the groups talking and working together.”
Earlier in November, Snowbarger heard from Interfaith-Good Samaritan that it would need extra hands for a canned food drive, which it was conducting in advance of its Thanksgiving food basket distribution. LASSO then put out a call to round up help.
“When there’s a need, he’s like a magnet,” said Interfaith executive director Mike Vercauteren. “He’s one of our go-to people here at Interfaith.”
Vercauteren said LASSO has been especially helpful when the organization needs to haul heavy objects, whether that’s a donated freezer or 175 frozen turkeys.
“It all comes from the heart, pure as gold,” Vercauteren said.
Trey Sherwood, executive director of Laramie Main Street Alliance, said her organization often needs big groups of people to help with one-time needs.
“Tim has been really great about checking us out, figuring out what Main Street is about and needs, and then rallying volunteers and community members to assist us with everything from trash removal at the Farmer’s Market to feeding students during the Big Event,” she said. “He’s game to do it all.”
Sherwood said LASSO even helped a new downtown restaurant with cleaning in advance of its grand opening.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “I would encourage other people who need assistance to reach out and introduce themselves to Tim and take advantage of his services.”
Craig Johnson, associate pastor of Whitewater Christian Church, said the church has collaborated with LASSO to the benefit of both organizations.
“Tim’s organization exists for the purpose of assisting and meeting real needs in the community, which is a similar perspective as our church,” Johnson said. “We together pool our resources to accomplish whatever needs to get done in town.”
Johnson said LASSO volunteers are willing to do all kinds of work. For example, the group has helped Whitewater with household moves, assisting low-income residents or single parents who need help with heavy lifting.
“The need in our community for volunteers to serve is pretty much inexhaustible, and yet with LASSO Events coming to town, we’ve got a whole group of folks who are committed to meeting those needs,” Johnson said.
Snowbarger said he’s hoping to open the new church in 2019, and he doesn’t hide the faith-based foundation that motivates LASSO. Jesus modeled service done out of love for one’s community, he said.
“Our intent is to lead with service,” he said. “I’d rather people encounter the gospel through actions.”
At the same time, LASSO will remain its own entity with a specific focus.
“There’s a lot of need in town, and it doesn’t take much to help meet those needs,” he said.
Snowbarger said he’d love to partner with businesses that could provide meals for volunteers. He’s also hoping to enlist more partners that need volunteer help.
Johnson encouraged anyone with a need for help or an itch to serve to check out LASSO.
“That’s what they live for,” he said.