Let’s give a round of applause to…

Join us in congratulating one of our finalists in the Individual – Rural Nevada category of the Governor’s Points of Light, Sandy Buchanan!

SandyBuchananSandy has been a Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission volunteer for 11 years, amassing over 5,000 hours of volunteerism and annually puts in over 400 service hours a year!

Sandy fills several critical needs for homeless and abused women in the community. She has developed a course of study on domestic violence for the women in the Mission’s recovery program based on her book, The Warning Light. In educating women who have been affected by domestic abuse, Sandy’s class provides an opportunity for the women to develop healthy relationships in our community. These women in turn give back by volunteering and reaching out to other women in need.

Sandy goes to great lengths to connect with and encourage less fortunate women. She teaches a weekly Bible study to provide hope and encouragement to the homeless women who dine and take shelter at the Mission, while also spending time on the streets talking to the women and to “experience what they experience” before joining them for their dinner at the Mission.

Quiet and unassuming, what is truly amazing about Sandy is that after driving an hour to get to the Mission, she accomplishes all these activities and more in a single day each week!

Thank you Sandy for all you do for the northern Nevada communities!

To find out more about the 2014 Governor’s Points of Light Awards, click here.

Join us in congratulating…

Join us in congratulating one of our finalists in the Individual – Northern Nevada category of the Governor’s Points of Light, Michael Allen!

Michael AllenMichael has been a dedicated volunteer for Northern Nevada HOPES since 2010. His past contributions to the agency have included creating a Community Vegetable Garden with availability to fresh food as well as helping individuals gain access to the HOPES Resource Center where communal services such as a computer lab, art space and a media library were provided to clients in need. More recently, Michael has served the HOPES staff while they began the Change Point, Harm Reduction Center, which is the first Syringe Services Program (SSP) to be started in the State of Nevada. During 2013, Michael generously donated over 700 volunteer hours to HOPES with the Harm Reduction and Outreach Department and without his efforts the program could not have attained its extraordinary success!

In addition to all his exceptional volunteer duties, he has taken a lead role as an advocate and educator of transgender health care needs and has gone out of his way to create a culturally sensitive space here at HOPES that provides an exceptional environment that embraces equality.

Because of Michael’s volunteer efforts, HOPES is able meet the demands of its rapid expansion while still maintaining the high quality health care services the agency has always been committed to when they needed his support the most.

Thank you Michael for all you do for the northern Nevada communities!

To find out more about the 2014 Governor’s Points of Light Awards, click here.

Finalists of the 2014 Governor’s Points of Light Awards

Not only does this year commemorate the 150th anniversary of our Silver State, but it is also the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps and Nevada Volunteers. Throughout the years, we have recognized incredible volunteers, volunteer programs, and volunteer managers, and this year will be no different!

We hope that you enjoy finding out more about each finalist as we highlight them in the weeks leading up to the Governor’s Points of Light Awards Ceremony. Governor’s Points of Light finalists exemplify volunteerism through their hard work and effort to make our communities a better place to live, work, and play. Reading about them, touched our hearts and we expect it will touch yours heart too. Join us in giving them applause and accolades in the coming month and on September 18th!

May their efforts encourage you to continue in your volunteer efforts, or even begin your volunteer journey today!

Join us in congratulating Southwest Gas Corporation as a finalist in the Corporate/Business Volunteer Program category…

SW Gas LogoSince its inception in 1931, Southwest Gas has focused not only on serving its customers well, but being an integral part of the communities it serves. The company’s volunteer group, The Blue – Building Lives Up Everywhere, participates in multiple projects during the year through sponsorship and volunteerism. The group’s longest-running project is National Rebuilding Day with Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada. In April, Southwest Gas completed its 20th annual project having nearly 100 volunteers help to repair and repaint the home of a local senior in need. Over the course of two days, Southwest Gas volunteers replaced the lawn with landscape rock, scraped and painted the home’s exterior and surrounding fence, cut down and removed trees and installed landscape lighting.

Other core Blue events include the Candlelighters of Southern Nevada 5K and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department BalloonFest. Employee-volunteers also donate their time to other causes that are close to their heart, whether by serving meals at Catholic Charities, participating in Teacher Appreciation Week by recognizing educators at a Las Vegas at-risk elementary school or organizing donation drives.

In addition to volunteerism, Southwest Gas employees are very philanthropic. The Fuel For Life workplace giving campaign gives Southwest Gas employees the chance to donate to ten local charities in the company’s service areas. In 2013, Southwest Gas employees pledged $1.2 million to community organizations. That is more than a 10 percent increase from the previous year and the per-employee giving rate and participation rate are both nearly double the national averages in both categories.

The values instilled at Southwest Gas Corporation remind all employees that the company is, first and foremost, part of our community. The levels to which employees have taken those values continues to grow every year, with no intention of slowing down.

To find out more about the 2014 Governor’s Points of Light Awards, click here.

2011 Governor’s Points of Light Recipient Continues to Make Huge Strides Against Hunger through Volunteers

Three Square Food Bank

Governor Brian Sandoval with 2011 Governor’s Points of Light Award recipient Three Square Food Bank’s Volunteer Coordinator, Patti Johnson (middle) and CEO, Brian Burton (right).

With the 2014 Governor’s Points of Light Award nomination process open, we wanted to take a moment to recognize past recipients and highlight their continued success in making Nevada a better place to live through volunteerism. This week, we are taking a look at Three Square Food Bank, the 2011 Governor’s Points of Light Award recipient in the Nonprofit/Community Organization Volunteer Program category.

It was easy to see in Three Square Food Bank’s nomination for the 2011 Governor’s Points of Light Awards, that the organization had made great strides since its opening in 2007 and positioned itself to be at the forefront of the fight against hunger in Southern Nevada.

Hunger was then and still is a huge problem in Las Vegas with the excessive unemployment and foreclosure rates in the midst of economic distress. It was evident to see that Southern Nevada families were struggling with putting food on the table everyday. That’s where Three Square Food Bank stepped in.

With every dollar raised, Three Square can provide up to three meals to someone in need, but only with the valuable service of volunteers can Three Square make sure that those meals are being distributed in the community. In 2010, Three Square volunteers served more than 66,000 hours, the equivalent of 32 full-time employees. In 2013, Three Square volunteers outdid themselves by topping 100,000 hours in service, the equivalent of 48 full-time employees!

A quick trip to Three Square Food Bank proves why volunteers are pushing through the doors to serve with the organization. The Volunteer Room is inspiring with the hundreds of pictures of invaluable community members and organizations that give their time and energy to stopping hunger in the Vegas Valley lining the walls. The organization’s volunteer coordinators meet volunteers with a huge smiles and tons of energy. They strive to make sure that volunteering is not only fun, but that each volunteer understands the impact that he or she is making in his or her community. It is easy to see that the organization’s encouragement, creativity, and organizational skills make it worthwhile for volunteers to keep coming back to serve over and over again — making Three Square Food Bank’s volunteer program a powerful entity. It is inspiring to see Three Square continue to strengthen and grow its volunteer program each year and effectively leverage volunteers to help end the fight against hunger.

Do you know of a nonprofit/community organization’s volunteer program that is making an impact in Nevada communities? Nominate the nonprofit/community organization today for the 2014 Governor’s Points of Light Awards here.



Why Invest in Volunteers?

Nevada Volunteers is all about volunteerism and, no, despite our name, we don’t have a huge group of volunteers that we directly manage. While we would love to claim all the wonderful volunteers in our state as our own, we focus our efforts on working with those businesses and nonprofits and municipalities that call for volunteers. We want those organizations to provide a well-organized, meaningful, and impacting volunteer experience.

How many times does a friend say, “well I tried to help, but they didn’t need me” or “no one called me back” or “I offered suggestions but no one wanted to listen”. These are the small actions—or inactions—that often turn people away from volunteering. Our goal is to minimize these in favor of the more positive responses that we also hear—“I can’t believe how attached I have become to this project”, or “I didn’t think what I did would make such a difference” or “it is such a joy for me to volunteer…”.

You can see immediately why having an effective volunteer program with a designated person to coordinate and interact with volunteers is so important. So part of our investment here at Nevada Volunteers is to support the quality and learning of volunteer coordinators—whether they are volunteers themselves or paid staff positions. Beyond that, however, the latest research findings prove that organizations that effectively manage volunteers are able to deliver stronger impact in the community and are run more efficiently as organizations. So another goal is to increase the number of organizations who can deliver on that promise: Build an effective volunteer program that aligns with your mission and build your organization. These organizations are known as ‘service enterprises’. Service Enterprise Definition

Nonprofits across Nevada are moving in this direction—strategically aligning their volunteer efforts to impact their mission and dedicating the resources needed upfront to reap the benefit later.

  • With 1.75 paid staff, Senior Outreach Services engages between 150-160 volunteers in Washoe County who provide services to seniors to allow them to stay in their homes. With approximately 27,000 donated hours of service, the value of the volunteer effort is $594,000 (based on $22/hr) and the staff cost is $115,000, an effective return of 5:1 per dollar invested. The cost effectiveness of such a program is only possible with the needed resources to manage the volunteers, train and support them, and make sure their services are aligned appropriately with the scope and mission of the program.
  • AARP is a familiar model that operates effectively in Nevada as well as nationally. As an example, the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program utilized 270 volunteers who helped more than 21,000 Nevadans file their federal returns. Their efforts resulted in more than $11 million in tax refunds. The program is offered at approximately 40 sites across Nevada including senior centers, libraries and other convenient locations and is managed in partnership with the IRS.
  • Washoe County School District has allocated specific resources—space, positions, and resources—so that community volunteers are welcomed and utilized to deliver on the school district’s mission. Volunteers are not only helping in classrooms but are being trained to directly impact student success as mentors and tutors in specific subjects and using specific teaching strategies.

Learn more about the ‘service enterprise’ model by attending the pre-conference workshop on May 8th at the Rio in Las Vegas. Information is at http://lasvegasconference.org or contact Nevada Volunteers at 775-825-1900.

We here at Nevada Volunteers are ready to roll up our sleeves and work with you with your volunteer needs, so let’s get started!

Written by Janet Wright, Volunteer Development Manager, at Nevada Volunteers

City of Las Vegas Creates Change Through Service

City of Las Vegas understands the importance of service.  Mayor Goodman proclaimed April 1st as National Service Recognition Day. (Photo with Mayor Goodman, United Way of Southern Nevada CEO Cass Palmer, and AmeriCorps member.)

City of Las Vegas understands the importance of service. Mayor Goodman proclaimed April 1st as National Service Recognition Day. (Photo with Mayor Goodman, United Way of Southern Nevada CEO Cass Palmer, and AmeriCorps member.)

Across the nation organizations are tackling complicated issues with volunteerism and engaged citizenry. This blog is an opportunity for us at Nevada Volunteers to share with you exemplary leadership using volunteerism as a solution to Nevada’s unmet needs.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Brian Knudsen, the City of Las Vegas Community Resources Manager, about an initiative in Southern Nevada, a partnership of organizations, volunteers, and national service programs working together to create change. Downtown Achieves is a group of more than 200 partners are participating in the collective impact approach to ensuring Academic Success for Every Student.

Here Brian shares some of the key points of the Downtown Achieves Collective Impact project:

What is Downtown Achieves?

Downtown Achieves is a Collective Impact Approach facilitated by multiple government, non-profit, and private sector partners.

By utilizing children and schools as a measure of success, Downtown Achieves is intended to drive positive change in public and private systems to ensure the success of students in schools in and around the downtown core of Las Vegas.

How does Downtown Achieves define success?

Success will be defined through a variety of different measurement tools that gauge efforts in the sectors of:

• Education

• Health & Human Services

• Arts & Culture

• Natural & Built Environment

• Jobs & Economy

Tell us a little bit about how this group formed and who is involved?

A small group of partner organizations (City of Las Vegas, Clark County School District, Public Education Foundation, Teach for America, Communities in Schools, The Andson Foundation) began meeting on a regular basis to identify a targeted approach for achievement in downtown schools.

Concurrently, community leader Gard Jameson organized a small group of individuals – The Jameson Fellows – to participate in a leadership program for leaders in the sectors identified above. The intent was for these community leaders to drive systemic change by supporting the efforts of the Las Vegas Healthy Communities Coalition (LVHCC), an effort supported by the United Way of Southern Nevada. . The LVHCC was working towards the identification of a pilot project to demonstrate the value of a Collective Impact Approach.

The three separate collaborative efforts have joined forces and are supporting Downtown Achieves.

Over the past several months, the collective effort has grown too including many more individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an interest in participating in the collective impact approach to ensuring Academic Success for Every Student.

All good things take leadership; can you share with us the City of Las Vegas’ involvement?

The City of Las Vegas, acting as the backbone organization for Downtown Achieves, has provided the support necessary for city staff to facilitate working groups of educators, students, and parent advocates. These working groups are typically after the working day and require time off the clock to ensure success. In addition to direct stakeholders, indirect stakeholders, a variety of other individuals and organizations are volunteering their time, treasure, and talents to ensure children in Las Vegas have the best opportunities possible.

Interested in learning more about Downtown Achieves? Visit www.downtownachieves.org.

Thank you to Nevada Volunteers’ Executive Director, Amber Martin-Jahn, for conducting this interview and writing this guest blog!

A Successful Mayor’s Day of Recognition in Nevada!

Sparks City Council

Mayor Geno Martini in Sparks, Nevada

This year was the 2nd Annual Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service, a day dedicated to recognizing those in National Service that are making a difference in communities across the nation. This year’s was successful, not only in Nevada but across the country. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 832 mayors participated in 2013 increased to 1,760 mayors this year.

Fallon's Mayor Ken Tedford

Mayor Ken Tedford in Fallon, Nevada

Nevada mayors jumped on board to proclaim April 1, 2014 as a special day in Fallon, Reno, Sparks, Winnemucca, Las Vegas, Carson City, North Las Vegas, Wells and Henderson. It is inspiring and encouraging to see our cities’ leaders understanding and recognizing the impact National Service makes in their cities. Thank you to those that participated this year!



Investing in Service-Learning and Volunteerism

Find out more about Service-Learning today!

University of Nevada, Reno

Office of Service Learning and Civic Engagement



University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Office of Civic Engagement and Diversity



As the Executive Director of Nevada Volunteers, I get to see and be part of the vision that organizations are creating for Nevada through volunteerism. It is remarkable and inspiring to see where nonprofits, corporations, and education systems are making an impact through volunteerism.

This month, across the nation organizations are highlighting the impact of National Service and volunteerism in education. Nevada commits significant national service resources to provide school support for parent engagement, school readiness, and to encourage youth to go to college.

I could talk about all the ways we do this, but instead I asked University of Nevada President Marc Johnson to share with us how they are building future Nevada leaders who understand the importance of service.

The University of Nevada, Reno instituted the Office of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement in the 2012-13 year and it became operational in 2013-14. Why did the University decide to invest in service learning for students at the University of Nevada, Reno?

Service through volunteerism and active connection with our state and community has long been a part of the land-grant heritage of the University of Nevada, Reno. The involvement of our faculty, staff and students in service throughout our 140-year history has been substantial and profound.

Given this past history, recently the University has developed an ambitious plan to further strengthen this engagement through a number of initiatives. This is part of a larger effort on the University’s part to create a culture of student success on our campus, and to more successfully engage our local community and businesses through meaningful outreach.

In the past few months, we’ve established two initiatives that in particular seem to bring these important goals together. The Office of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement is a new office on our campus. This office is focused on enriching the overall academic and university experience for all students by connecting these students with non-profit organizations to help address a community-identified social issue, problem or need. This provides opportunities for students to have hands-on service, development of their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility and commitment to the community.

The group of community partners who are working with this office now numbers more than two dozen, and includes the Washoe County School District, the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows, Food Bank of Northern Nevada, Nevada Volunteers and the American Red Cross of Northern Nevada.

In addition, our new Career Studio has established a centralized hub for students, the campus community and the business community for internships, job shadow opportunities, resume-building resources and professional placement, further strengthening our connection with our community and ensuring that our prime commodity – an educated citizenry – can find the proper pathway to jobs in our community.

Both the Office of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement and the Career Studio are clearly focused on enriching the overall academic and university experience for our students. At the same time, they are also creating learning experiences that help our students embrace a culture of impactful and involved citizenship. And further, through their service, our students are helping improve and enrich the quality of life in the community which our University serves.

Understanding the importance of service to others at all phases of life is a critical piece of building our communities and state. It is also an area where actions speak louder than words. There are exciting things happening across the state around service.

Our future leaders at colleges and universities across the state have opportunities to serve through service clubs or actual student centers focused on service learning and volunteerism like at the University of Nevada Reno and University of Nevada Las Vegas. I underlined a few of Marc Johnson’s comments because I think they are the areas that service serves us so well…

  • Connecting current and future partners
  • Addressing a community identified need
  • Impactful and involved citizenship

Congratulations to higher education for understanding and investing in service as a critical component of building Nevada’s future leaders.

In Service,

Amber Martin-Jahn

Nevada Volunteers <3s Nevada’s Volunteers!

During this Valentine’s Week, we want to share some of the reasons Nevada Volunteers LOVES Nevada’s Volunteers. We hope that you’ll take a moment to see how special the volunteers are that are making an impact in our communities. We would LOVE for you to fall in LOVE with volunteerism too!

Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum

Discovery Museum VolunteersThe Discovery LOVES our volunteers! We have a committed, diverse and energetic group that helps us provide spectacular learning opportunities to our community. Our volunteers are our biggest asset and we appreciate all the time, love and excitement they bring every day to our organization. Volunteers do everything from leading exciting science demonstrations with our visitors, helping create beautiful works of art, reading to children and working closely with our administration staff behind the scenes to make sure we are able to provide amazing experiences to all who visit. We even have a little fun along the way! Paid staff and Volunteer staff truly are a team! To join the Discovery volunteer team, contact Stephanie D’Arcy: sdarcy@nvdm.org or 775-398-5953.

Foster Grandparent Program

The Foster Grandparent Program pairs senior citizens with at-risk children through tutoring and mentoring in schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, Jan Evans Juvenile Detention Center as well as other agencies. Currently there are 95 volunteers in Reno, Carson, Silver Springs, Fernley, and Yerington.

Not only are these volunteers investing in the children, their welfare, and their education, they are “cheerleading” on teachers’ efforts, encouraging the teachers and supporting them on a daily basis. Many of them develop a bond with the teaching staff that goes beyond the classroom. This volunteer program offers volunteers the opportunity to be the encouraging, loving, supportive, caring, giving grandparent pushing students and staff onward and upward!

ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada

ESL In-Home ProgramESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada is a community volunteer organization working with some of the brave and resourceful men and women who came to this country in the hopes of becoming productive members of our society and fulfilling their dreams. Instead, many find themselves trapped in poverty by their deficiency of English language skills and cultural awareness. In its seminal report “Living in America” (2006), the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation identified lack of English language skills as one of the most profound challenges faced by those trying to assimilate into American society, and one of the primary reasons so many are forced to live in poverty.

Our tutors have changed lives. Currently, we have 171 community volunteers teaching English, GED Preparation, Computer Literacy and Citizenship Study to 382 adults. These volunteers are incredible. Some have been with the ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada since its inception 10 years ago. They have helped over 2,000 adults in English language skills, while breaking the language barriers in their communities. Our students have found jobs, have been promoted in their employment, now help their children with homework, communicate with their children’s teachers and medical personnel without interpreters, shop in English-speaking stores.

The obstacle is not confined to adults; children from families who do not speak English at home Kelly, studentface the hurdle of having to learn a new language when they first start school, which places them at extreme disadvantage compared to their English-speaking peers; disadvantages which they often do not overcome until third grade or beyond.

ESL In-Home Program represents enormous value for our children’s futures, as well as the future of our community. Therefore the challenge in recruiting more community volunteer tutors. It takes 1-1.5 hours to train; commitment is 1-2 hours per week. We need volunteers in the 5 counties we exist: Carson, Douglas, Washoe, Churchill, and Lyon. To find out more information, email Florence Phillips, Executive Director at eslinhomenv@aol.com.

Crisis Call Center

Crisis Call Center volunteers are a group of people from many different walks of life that each hold unique and powerful traits. What all of these diverse people have in common is their ability to listen to our callers and give them the rare gift of empathy. The volunteers remind callers of the beauty in the breakdown by offering them compassion in times when the caller is unable to ask for that from anyone else in their life. In order to work the lines, volunteers are required to attend 56 hours of in-class training and become certified in Crisis Intervention and Suicide First Aid (ASIST) after which they spend 16.5 hours of listening to calls and answering them with direct supervision. Once a volunteer graduates, the program asks that they dedicate one 4-hour shift per week that they schedule at their convenience and commit to helping Crisis Call Center for a year. If this sounds like a cause you would like to be a part of please contact Kayla Ortiz (Crisis Line Program Assistant) at clpa@crisiscallcenter.org or by calling 775-784-8085.

The Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada

Buddy Walk VolunteersThe Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada could not exist without dedicated volunteers willing to give of their time, energy and talents to make the events and programs at DSOSN run smoothly and efficiently. There are multiple opportunities to volunteer To volunteer, call 702-648-1990 or email dcline@dsosn.org.


Donate Life Nevada

The volunteers for Donate Life Nevada are a special group of individuals – many who have been personally touched by organ and tissue donation. Many are alive today because someone, somewhere said “yes” and they received a life-saving organ transplant. Others are family members of those who gave the gift of life and know, first-hand, the pride and peace they feel knowing that others are alive because they cared.

Donate Life Ambassadors are the faces of organ and tissue donation – educating and advocating – and encouraging others to register as donors. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can contact us at www.DonateLifeNevada.org or by calling 775-825-700 (Reno office) or 702-796-9600 (Las Vegas office).

Nevada Volunteers <3s Volunteerism!

With it being Valentine’s Week, Nevada Volunteers thought it would be a fun to share different reasons why we <3 (heart) volunteerism.

February is a month full of hearts, the color red, and love! It’s also American Heart Month. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States – 1 in 4 deaths can be attributed to health disease.

The good news? Heart disease can be prevented and volunteerism can help!

According to the study “Health Benefits of Volunteering” from the Corporation for National and Community Service, research shows volunteering isn’t just great for the “heart and soul” of an individual, but really the health of an individual.

It’s often said that giving is better than receiving. When individuals volunteer, it creates a sense of purpose, need, and satisfaction in helping provide a service to others in need. Research shows that those who give services receive more health benefits than those who receive services.

Here are some more healthy facts about volunteering:

  • Individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, event when controlling for physical health.
  • Those individuals studied that suffer from chronic pain experienced declines in their pain intensity and decreased levels of disability and depression when they began to serve as volunteers for others also suffering from chronic pain.
  • Individuals studied with post-coronary artery disease that volunteered after their heart attack reported a decline in despair and depression (two factors that have been linked to a higher probability of death in this type of patient). These individuals also reported a greater sense of purpose in their lives.
  • States with higher volunteerism rates report less incidence of heart disease!

There’s research showing that having a bigger heart by giving results in lower incidence of heart disease – changing the impact of volunteerism in the community and the leading cause of death in the United States!

So how do you reap the benefits of volunteerism?

  • Volunteering 1 to 2 hours a week will help you reach the positive health benefits!
  • Visit www.nevadavolunteers.org to find a volunteer opportunity in your community!