Category Archives: Volunteering and Americorps

‘Tis better to give than…well, you know the rest.

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Looks like Obama and the gang have done good: Senate Moves To Triple Americorps

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John Edwards signs pledge to expand national service

After a stop at a House Party in Dover, presidential hopeful John Edwards signed the Presidential Pledge to Expand National Service (pdf). Woohoo! (OTOH, John McCain declined to sign even while acknowledging that Americorps volunteers were “the best we ever had.” An action which makes obvious sense…wait, what?)

In short, the pledge promises to expand Americorps service positions by 100,000, to support policies that make it easier for folks to serve 4,000 hours (2 years) to national service, to promote service learning in schools, to support and expand the Peace Corps, and to increase service opportunities to seniors.

Read about this momentous event, and the tenacious work of ServeNext member Tate that it took to get it done, at the ServeNext blog, BlogNext.

2007 Eli Segal Fellow Announced

From the press release on the official AmeriCorps site:

Washington, D.C. – Julie Proulx, a Massachusetts native who spent seven months of her AmeriCorps year in the Gulf Coast assisting victims of Hurricane Katrina, has been named the newest Eli Segal Fellow by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The fellowship is named in honor of the late Eli Segal, an architect of national service and the first CEO of the Corporation, who served from 1993 to 1995. The Corporation’s Board of Directors suggested the idea of the fellowship after Segal’s death in February 2006.The Eli Segal Fellow works in the Office of the CEO on projects to advance the mission of national service and the strategic goals of the Corporation.

Read the full press release here.

Congratulations to Julie! Her hard work and dedication to helping others is clear in the description of the work she did during her term of service, and she richly deserves this award.

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Smells like team spirit

The annual United Way Day of Caring was last Thursday, and as an Americorps Alumni I took part in a service project (although it actually took place on Saturday) along with some of the new team members for this year and a couple of my colleagues from last year.

What did we do? We painted, of course. 😀

As if I haven’t had enough of painting recently, I signed up for an afternoon slinging a brush at a local group home for autistic kids. Whadda ya gonna do? You got a skill, you run with it.

Anyway, the morning crew had gotten a lot done by the time we got there, and our crew managed to almost finish the rest of it. By the time we were heading home, the only things left were some touch up work on the walls and a second coat on the trim. Sweet.

The local paper said that this year’s Day of Caring resulted in 1600 volunteers helping 87 programs with 6500 hours of service for an estimated $122,000 worth of services. Don’t know that those figures included our group, since our project didn’t happen on Thursday, but still – wow. That’s an incredible happening to be a part of.

That’s the point of Americorps Alums, though – the concept that serving your community doesn’t just end when your term of service does. The goal of Americorps Alums, aside from being a support system for previous Americorps members, is to produce citizens who are committed to a lifetime of service. I’m one of them and I can definitely tell you this – you’ll get back far more than you will ever have the capacity to give. Being able to live in a community that you know you are helping to make stronger, better and more successful is a buzz that no drug can touch and no downturn can take away.

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The Never Ending Project update: I’m sticking a fork in it and calling it done

FINALLY, the weather cooperated long enough so that I could finish the last of the painting on the Emma Center today.

Woooohoooooo!!!!

Of course, when it comes to painting and the like, my lingering bits of OCD can kick in and I can keep finding things that “aren’t quite done yet” and that need just a bit more work literally forever. So I learned some time ago that some projects just won’t end all by themselves – you have to consciously decide when they’re done and call it a day. Took me long enough to learn that, but it sure comes in handy on projects like this, because in all truth painting is never really “done” – it can always look a little fresher, a little smoother and a little neater.

Adding to this nagging sensation is the fact that since I was painting an existing structure that has been added to over the years (wooden ramps to the doors, a wooden table to hold rain water collection barrels and so forth), there were places I simply couldn’t get into to paint (between the ramps/porches and the trailer, behind the table, etc). You can see down in there where it’s not painted, which aggravates me to no end, but it’s simply physically impossible to paint it unless you want to dismantle the ramps and whatnot (uh, no). On the plus side, you can only see these spots if you’re looking really hard. Which most people won’t. I mean, who spends their time peering down between a porch and it’s attached building?

So, at some point I simply had to draw a metaphorical (and, in some cases, literal) line, paint as close up to it as I could, and then step back, put down the brushes and say, “This further and no more. It’s done.”

And that’s where I got to today. Done. Fini. Over.

I hereby declare this trailer painted within the scope of my natural ability and the constraints imposed by reality and the laws of physics. May God have mercy on it’s soul.

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Time Management for Busy Volunteers: 5 Ways To Keep Volunteering From Ruining Your Busy Schedule

I know how it is – you’re a busy person with a lot of stuff on your plate. And yet, it’s so hard to turn down those requests to help out when the sign-up sheets get passed around, especially when your “socially conscious” boss is watching. So here you are once again, facing an afternoon (or even an entire day) of volunteering that’s torpedoing your schedule faster than a Russian sub at a fundraising raft race.

Well, no more!

Follow these simple tips to streamline your volunteer activities and I guarantee you’ll never have to worry about juggling volunteerism and your jam-packed schedule again.


1. Show Up When You Get Around To It

Look, everyone’s going to be getting there all at once and it’s going to be chaos. Plus they’ll probably be doing some sort of (yawn) orientation for the zip-heads. But you know how to find your way around a simple work site and crowds give you hives. Besides, it’s not like you’re getting paid or anything. If you wanted to punch a clock, you’d be at work, right? So, take your time, field a few more calls, catch a few extra Z’s – whatever. The work will still be there when you get there.

Oh, and if you are going to be late, please – don’t bother calling. Your volunteer coordinator is going to be up to her neck in idiots trying to figure out how to work the sign-in pen. Don’t pester her. She’ll figure it out sooner or later on her own, anyway.


2. Instructions Are For Zip-Heads

You’ve finally gotten there and signed in (printing takes forever, so avoid that time-wasting trap and stick to your normal scrawl…they’ll be able to read your handwriting just fine). But now some granola-crunching hippy is holding everyone up by rattling off a list of unnecessary instructions and “duh” safety tips.

Blah, blah, blah. You’re not a five-year-old – you’re just going to be pounding nails and hanging siding. How hard could it be? Besides, you’ve done this before and know a few shortcuts. So use the orientation time to get in a few more vital text messages, and then do it the way you know how to do it – who knows, maybe they’ll learn something. Let the sheeple do it the hard way.


3. Don’t Let The Organizers Drop The Ball

What ball? Any ball. It’s their job to keep this gig running smoothly, so if you see something wrong (not enough ice for the free refreshments, their selection of tools is not up to par, there’s some clue-free loser who insists on doing everything the hard way in charge of your team, etc), make sure you let them know. And don’t back down if they don’t immediately fix the situation. You’re doing the organizers a favor by keeping the support volunteers from slacking off. The site would grind to a halt if someone didn’t keep an eye on things.


4. Rules Are For Clients, Not Volunteers

Sure, those poor people getting the food boxes have to take what you give them. But dude, you’ve been here shelving donations all day. Why shouldn’t you load yourself up a box of the good stuff on your way out? You deserve it! And it’ll save you a trip to the store on the way home, so you won’t have to leave off volunteering early to do that. They should be grateful.


5. Leave Early Anyway

You’ve got things to do and people to see. Messing around with clean-up and whatnot is just going to slow you down. The rest of the team won’t mind if you slip out a bit early – they know you’ve got important stuff hanging on the line. And if you leave now, you won’t have to fight the crowd to get out of parking, and that’ll cut at least 5 minutes off the time it takes you to get to the gym.


Bringing It All Together

The key to keeping your volunteer activities from cutting into your busy schedule boils down to one word – priorities. What’s more important – your schedule, or all that other stuff? Seriously, weekend plans do not make themselves!

Cutting corners, shaving time and making sure the support team knows who they’re here to serve will keep you from wasting your talents and cooling your heels doing pointless busy-work. Once you’ve turned this time management system into a habit, streamlining your volunteerism to minimize schedule disruption will be as easy as falling off a ladder.

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Curses, foiled again

Got up early today (after a crappy mostly sleepless night, even) to finish up the last few hours of painting touchup that will finish the paint job on the Emma trailer and finally get that job off my “to do, already” list and the hovering weight of it off my shoulders. It’s been a week + since I’ve been able to get back there at a decent hour to get any work done (before nine there’s too much dew and after about noon, it’s too damned hot for the paint to go on right) and since I’ve just got a few bits of touch up, it’s been driving me crazy to be that close to done for so long and yet not be able to just get in there and whack it out.

Alas.

Hurricane Dean seems to be throwing some (I’ll admit, much needed) rain our way. I had hoped I could get what I had to get done, done before the rain came in (it was scheduled for later today), but 10 minutes after I touched paint to brush here it came.

Gah!

True, it cleared up by around 11:30, but the weather forecast calls for a good chance of thunderstorms all week and I didn’t want to get started – again – only to have get rained on – again – and by then it was already too hot anyway, so I just gave up. I’ll hold off until next week, when the hurricane leftovers should be done with and try again.

That is, if Mother Nature could kindly &*#@%!! condescend to allow me a 5 hour window (2 to paint, three to dry) between too wet and too hot to do it in.

*shakes fist at sky*

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