The Volunteer Road
A reflection on the power of volunteerism
by Amber Martin-Jahn Executive Director Nevada Volunteers
Last week I spoke at our 13th Annual Governor’s Points of Light Awards. What an inspiring event! At the morning reception honoring all the finalists I was awed by the ability of these individuals and organizations to transform volunteer service into good for their communities.
The finalists and award recipients re-affirm that volunteerism is powerful. It is powerful and it is good for Nevada.
Volunteering is also a purposeful act. It is a choice. At some point each of the finalists, individuals and organizations decided to take action and that action resulted in a power of good for Nevada. It might have started as a little spark of wanting to make a difference, or wanting to change something and today it is something so much bigger, something deserving of recognition, something that is powerful.
Volunteerism is powerful and it is good for Nevada. But what is it that moved each of these finalists to get involved?
For Immediate Release
Contact: Amber Martin-Jahn, Executive Director
(775) 825-1900 | firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTICE OF FUNDING OPPORTUNITY
Seeking Nevada Organizations committed to using national service to address critical community needs in education, public safety, health and environment
RENO | LAS VEGAS, August 25, 2015 —Nevada Volunteers is pleased to release this Notice of Funding which requests applications from Nevada organizations and agencies interested in receiving AmeriCorps funding to recruit, place, and supervise AmeriCorps members. AmeriCorps programs support local community efforts by addressing education, economic opportunity, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, disaster services and veteran and military families through AmeriCorps member assignments which provide direct service and capacity-building activities, while also mobilizing volunteers. Applicants will design service activities for a team of members who have each committed to one year of service. Sample activities include tutoring and mentoring youth, disaster response, job training/placement, assisting the elderly with resource navigation, and restoring environmental habitat.
Are you a volunteer coordinator? WE NEED YOU (and your volunteers!) to help us get a better picture of volunteers and volunteerism in Nevada. Are you ready to help?
Dear Volunteer Coordinators:
Nevada’s volunteer participation rate (20.7%) is one of the lowest in the nation and means that we are currently ranked 49th in the country. UNLV researchers are collaborating with United Way of Southern Nevada and Nevada Volunteers, The Governor’s Commission on Service, to improve the climate of volunteerism in the State. We’d like to invite you to participate in our effort as well.
As an organization that utilizes volunteers, you know how volunteering makes a real difference in our community. Would your organization be interested in disseminating a survey about volunteerism to your volunteers? The goal of the survey is to help us better understand volunteerism in Nevada and strategize about how to improve our volunteerism rate. We are interested in helping our community partners and would be happy to share the aggregated results of the survey with you.
Service— an act of helpful activity; help; aid
Enterprise— a project undertaken or to be undertaken, especially one that is important or difficult or that requires boldness or energy
These two terms hint at the meaning behind the Service Enterprise process—a process that transforms a nonprofit or municipal entity into a high-performing, effective organization that utilizes the skills of volunteers to better meet needs in the community. Despite widespread use of volunteers, did you know that only 11% of organizations function as a Service Enterprise?
Those organizations functioning as service enterprises are more adaptable (a highly prized attribute in today’s fast-changing world), more flexible, and leverage their financial resources up to 6 times more than a comparable organization. Good volunteer engagement is more than traditional volunteer management training, yet that’s where many organizations focus their efforts. Recent research tells us that taking a broad organizational approach means better results for our volunteers and our organizational effectiveness.
Each year, Nevada Volunteers recognizes “Points of Light” throughout our state – individuals and organizations who, through their dedicated efforts, shine the “Light” of volunteerism and brighten the lives of others. This year, Nevada Volunteers will honor 150 years worth of “Points of Light” in conjunction with the Governor’s Points of Lights Awards and the Silver State’s 150th birthday, by recognizing 150 Points of Light throughout our great state.
Please join us in recognizing…
- Patricia Martin, a native Nevadan, retired to Lamoille, Nevada after having lived in other states for many years. In true retirement fashion, she immediately engaged in getting to know her community. Her involvement has led to her being an active member of the Lamoille Women’s Club taking a leadership role in the country fair lemonade stands and the fall soup fundraiser to only name a few of her roles. Not having enough to do in retirement, she now volunteers for multiple shifts at the Lamoille Post Office to help keep that community service open for her Nevada town. In all her efforts she engages her kids and grand kids, building an ethic of service for future Nevadans too.
Join us in congratulating one of our finalists in the Individual – Rural Nevada category of the Governor’s Points of Light, Sandy Buchanan!
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.
Join us in congratulating one of our finalists in the Individual – Northern Nevada category of the Governor’s Points of Light, Michael Allen!
Michael 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.
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…
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.
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…”.
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