Monthly Archives: April 2013

Who Do We Appreciate?

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Volunteers are always being commended for the great things they do. They set aside time, on top of their own personal life, to change something for the greater good. Volunteers are an important part of nonprofit organizational function. If it wasn’t for the handfuls of volunteers who take on the roles and responsibilities of a volunteer, would public events be able to successfully put on a show?

As I become more involved in a variety of volunteer projects, I seem to notice how more and more people end a conversation with me by saying “thank you”—a simple phrase that has so much meaning attached to it. And I wonder—why? How is it that only a few words can be so impactful? The answer varies, but personally, I find that a person’s appreciation can be shown in a mass of different ways, but simply saying “thank you” is just as meaningful as someone giving you a rose or a thank you letter.

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That is why volunteers continue to strive for what they do—the appreciation by others, the impact they create on a community, and the satisfaction of seeing others happy. People are genuinely good. Volunteers are a mass of those ‘good’ people. And those people, who focus their time and energy on bettering the world, animal care, living conditions for the poor, equality for genders, those who are just there because they want to help you in whichever way they can, those people, deserve to be recognized for the great things they do.

Volunteer appreciation and recognition is not only something that can be seen as you giving back to those who give, all the time, but also shows how a simple gesture, or a big effort, can bring together a group of people. After all, we are social beings, and enjoy being in the company of one another.

So, the next time you see a grand gesture by someone, even if it’s not a volunteer situation, thank them. Tell them how much you appreciate what they do. It will become a ripple effect, guaranteed. Thank your mom, for being your backbone; thank your dad for teaching you a valuable lesson. Thank your family, your friends, and your co-workers!

One small “thank you” can mean the world to someone else. Remember that.

Have a great day and enjoy your week, in the sunshine!

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‘WOOF’-enteering at Reno Animal NonProfits

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These days, it seems as though whatever your interest may be, volunteer involvement is always needed. Basically, in every direction that I’ve steered towards volunteer work, and trust me, I vary in volunteer projects, something has been available for me to become a part of it. It’s GREAT! Want to work with the elder, there’s opportunity. Enjoy the laughter of children, volunteering is available! Animal lover? There are more than enough animals that need loving volunteers to give them attention.

One great area of volunteer work that is offered in Reno is the direct volunteer work done with animals. There is a variety of different programs that offer volunteer work directly with animals, including the Nevada Humane Society, the SPCA of Northern Nevada, and Animal Ark. DogWalkersPlease These specific places care for animals and encourage volunteering by community members. Each program varies in volunteer requirements. Below are descriptive lists of what is needed to be a volunteer at these places.

Nevada Humane Society is a no-kill shelter that takes in dogs and cats from the surrounding community, and tries to find them each a home.

Volunteers:

  • 18 years of age and older are invited to join the team.
  • ages 16 and 17 are allowed to volunteer, unsupervised, with parent or guardian consent.
  • younger than 16 are still allowed to volunteer, accompanied by a pre-approved adult volunteer.
  • are asked to attend at least one monthly volunteer orientation meeting and
  • must complete the Volunteer Agreement and Liability Agreement.

If volunteering at the Nevada Humane Society appeals to you download the application here and hand it in directly at this address.

The SPCA of Northern Nevada is another no-kill shelter, in which the main goal of the nonprofit is to treat homeless cats and dogs and find them loving, permanent homes.

Volunteers:

  • donate their time and their hearts to these animals in need
  • must be 18 years old or older to volunteer
  • ages 12-17 may volunteer with a parent or legal guardian who is also a volunteer

If you are interested, go to the website here, and check out the volunteer opportunities offered right now, the upcoming events that will be taking place, and more about being a volunteer.

Lastly, Animal Ark is a bit different than the Humane Society or the SPCA in that it is a nonprofit organization that serves as a wildlife sanctuary and as an education center for visitors. The Animal Ark sanctuary provides a stable home for injured, abandoned, or ill wildlife animals.

Volunteer policies are a bit stricter, as the animals you are working with require more caution than domestic pets. However, the organization relies on volunteers heavily as there are few paid employees, made up generally of volunteers.

Volunteers:

  • are needed for interaction with individuals visiting the park, answering questions, telling Ark stories, and assuring the safety of visitors, staff, and animals
  • are also wildlife educators, in which you, as a volunteer, conduct a tour guide for park visitors, including children on field trips to the park
  • assist with the maintenance of the park, including picking up trash, watering the trees, painting facilities as needed, etc
  • can also be a part of the planning team to compose special events for the park, including fundraising, marketing, and social media promotions

If you are serious about commitment and feel up to the challenge, check out the Animal Ark website on more information about volunteering and how to approach it.

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Volunteering with animals is one of the most endearing things that we, as humans, have! Take the opportunity and check out these websites. Consider the volunteer opportunity. You may just find yourself interested in working with animals. However, if you’re just not quite ready to jump in, or don’t have the time now, consider a donation! Each nonprofit organization could use a little bit of donation to keep up the efforts they do!

Thank you for your time, and enjoy your week!

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Leadership and Its Roles in Volunteer Work

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Alright, the project duties have been assigned, and YOU are in charge of a group of five strangers you’ve only seen three other times at meetings. Quick, what do you do first—introduce yourself? Have an icebreaker? Shoot—no time, your group is on a time crunch before the event starts! “Deep breath, smile, and go.” Those little words are the words of a calm and efficient volunteer leader.

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Leadership, a vital part of volunteer work, wouldn’t you say? As much as we’d like to think that everyone equally shares responsibility for jobs that need to be done, especially group work, there always seems to be one person who steps beyond everyone else and delegate’s tasks. It’s not a bad thing; in fact, having leaders to look up to in teamwork settings is a necessary element for successful functionality.

But what does it mean to be a volunteer leader? A volunteer leader, specifically in this context, is described as a person who:

  • accepts the challenges and responsibilities of the project assigned, delegate’s others in a respectful manner, and takes full responsibility for the progress of the project.
  • can communicate efficiently and effectively with other leader coordinators and volunteers in need of direction.
  • is resourceful in more than one way, whether it is working with volunteers or meeting with nonprofit organizations to inspire new ideas.
  • presents themselves in a positive and professional manner when needed, and ably  represents an organization or members of a community.

These are just some characteristics that could describe a volunteer leader, but many more exist. Everyone is capable of being a leader. The important thing to remember is that you have to want it, to get it. If you like working with people, positively, and enjoy taking on challenges and responsibilities, you are most likely a leader. You are either a leader in your classes, in school groups, at work, in clubs you belong to or you are probably a leader to others who look up to you, follow you, and respect you.

Leadership by diverse groups of people is taking place all around us every day. We should encourage more people to take on leadership roles and work together, just as volunteers stand together to fight for a cause, a belief, and even stand together to defend a community—a group of people who they don’t even know. That is true leadership.

What do you think about leadership and its roles? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. Share anything related to leadership in volunteer projects, organizations, or whatever else you’ve experienced in which leadership aided in your success!

A Drop of Blood Goes a Long Way

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After my volunteer-filled weekend, I have begun to wind down, trying to get back to my usual routine, and yet, scouting my next volunteer activity. This time, however, I’m looking for something that demands less time, as university finals are right around the corner, and my full concentration on school is at an all time high. But how could I volunteer for something that won’t require a full day’s work? Luckily, there are a variety of things I could do that are still helping a specific cause or a specific person!

A blood drive is a great way to give back to those in the community! Image Ever since I was in high school, I had wanted to give blood. I had the sensation that by sharing something that I was able to share, with someone who didn’t have that, I would be an active part of a cause that affected life, directly. Unfortunately, my sophomore year in high school, I found out I could not be a blood donor because of a disease I had as a child. Though I didn’t have that disease anymore, I was still told that blood donation would never been allowed.

Not having the opportunity to give blood has definitely made me sad, as I have always wanted to because of the good things it does for so many other people. However, I understand that for specific reasons, I cannot, and I have learned to accept it. But if I had the chance to do so, I would definitely do it!

Blood drives exist all over the place, even in Reno! If you’re a Reno local, and want a fast and easy way to give back to the community, check out the United Blood Services website for more information on what donating blood does and where it goes! It’s an amazing nonprofit!

If you have a fear of needles, as I know some people do and that is why they don’t volunteer, check out the web for other volunteer ideas! There’s a world full of activities waiting to be tried out by you.

Have a great week!

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Volunteering Satisfaction in Reno Earth Day Festival

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At 6 AM this morning, I was not sleeping in my warm bed, I was not dreaming sweet thoughts, and I was not drinking my morning wake up coffee while reading the newspaper. On this day, at 6 AM, I was being a volunteer at the Reno Earth Day Idlewild Park Festival. After spending more than six hours at this event volunteering, I can proudly say, I wouldn’t have wanted to be doing anything else on this day.

My job varied. I was not assigned a specific task, and therefore, my help was sought for a number of different issues that arose, including general labor and trying to communicate with festival exhibitors in an efficient manner. I was thrilled! I engaged in a number of conversations with people, many of them who needed directions to a specific festival event. All in all, the event was a success, volunteers had a great time associating with others, and hopefully visitors were satisfied with what we offered them.

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In one of my previous posts, I wrote about the benefits of volunteering, how such activities impact your health, and what you get out of it on a mental and physical level. Today, I felt a number of positive things happened to me—I had a feeling of purpose, I was happy, as my volunteering is a passion of mine, and I was socially interactive, something that not only helps you in the social networking area, but minimizes stress induced diseases because of the human interaction taking place.

In conclusion, what I was really hoping to get out of this post was to share my experiences of the day and hopefully persuade you, as a reader, to find the things you are passionate about, volunteer, and take advantage of the wonderful things that it has to offer. I met a really great group of people, met a diverse amount of visitors with different interests who were eager to converse and spend time with us volunteers, and because of those reasons, I will be signing up to volunteer with the Reno Earth Day group again next year.

I encourage you all to check out the Reno Earth Day website, view this year’s itinerary, check out some photos, learn about the event in general, and if you’re interested, sign up or keep it in mind for volunteering opportunities for next year! You won’t regret getting involved in activities like this one, or others that bring purpose to your participation.

Have a great week! And Happy Earth Day! 

5 Tips to Being A Good Volunteer

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Are you a volunteer? Do you wonder if you’re a ‘good’ volunteer? First of all, you’re a volunteer! Congratulations on joining the other 64.5 million volunteers in the U.S. who are being active in their communities and serving a purpose. Image Secondly, if you’re passionate about what you do, surely you’re good at it. But here are a couple of helpful tips to get you going in the right direction towards being a good volunteer.

TIP #1: Find something you’re passionate about.

Think of an issue or a problem that makes you feel strongly about it. Do you want to change or improve it? What topics are you interested in—animals, gender equality, the homeless, environmental issues, education for youth? Whatever the issue may be, pick the one that you feel strongly about—and you’ve found your volunteer area.

TIP #2: Carefully calculate your free time.

The good thing about volunteering is that there is a wide range of time frames to do so. It all depends on the individual pursing a volunteer project. Being aware of your daily schedule and knowing how much time you are able to dedicate to your volunteer project is of vital importance for yourself and for the organization/non profit you are working with, including the individuals you are directly assisting. Simply, don’t overwhelm yourself with more than you can handle.

TIP #3: Start researching the organizations and non profits that specialize in your interests.

Find the organizations/non profits in your local area that have the same interests as you. Start by looking at their websites, and possibly contacting them through email for more information about what they do and how they impact the community.

TIP #4: Consider the challenges and skills required.

Every volunteer project is going to have its fair share of challenges. Challenges presented will affect individuals in different ways, therefore, it’s important to know what you are getting into before you commit. Know your strengths and know how to utilize them in certain situations. Being prepared during a moment of serious decision-making will portray good leadership and show you are a good volunteer.

TIP #5: Be Self-less, responsible, and have fun.

Love what you do, not for yourself, but for the impact it has on others and the community. Remember, you’re volunteering because you feel passionate about it, while aiding a cause that touches others’ lives. Volunteering is fun, and as a volunteer, you are persuaded to have fun doing the things you do. That said, have fun responsibly and enjoy the happiness volunteering brings you.

Hope the tips listed above are helpful when choosing a volunteer topic or organization! Please, check out some online volunteer opportunities near you to see what topics spark a connection with your interests. The right volunteer project could be waiting for you.

Have a great week!

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Earth Day Events Happening in Reno

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Earth Day is right around the corner and it’s coming whether you’re ready or not! April 21st is the day, so mark it in your calendars. This nationwide event consists of thousands of volunteers wanting to do something good for the environment, showing their appreciation for the wonders the earth has given us all—the beautiful skies, the detail-oriented mountains that allow us to hike and explore them, and the clean waters we tastefully swim in on a regular basis; there is so much to celebrate on Earth Day. And every event counts on this day.

Reno is celebrating April 21st with a wild event on Idlewild Park, an event that has been a part of the Reno community for the past 22 years. LovetheEarth The festival brings people together to learn about the many branches of Earth day and ecological responsibilities through special performances and local artwork incorporating earth day meanings. 9,000-10,000 people from Northern Nevada and California attended the event in 2012, after having some minor mishaps that almost halted the Earth Day festival from happening. The effort and dedication by those who took it upon themselves to assure the festival’s continuance, and the surprising quantity of exhibitors and attendees was a true testament showing how important the celebration really is for the local community of Reno and those who come just to be a part of it.

This year is no different! With Earth Day festivities just less than a week away, organization and planning is underway! Volunteers are still needed for a number of different positions within the event. If you’re interested in being a part of this festival, check out the Renoearthday.webs.com to see how you can be a part of Earth Day! I recently submitted my volunteer application and am awaiting a response as to where I can help! Do some good this April 21st! Plant a tree, a plant, a flower! Ride your bike instead of your car! Do a good deed for the environment and share your deed here.

Have a great week and a happy Earth Day!

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