Volunteering Opportunity in the Bay: The Marine Mammal Center

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I spent this last weekend in San Francisco playing tourist with my husband and some family friends. I’ve been to SF on several occasions, but somehow, going to Chinatown, Market Street, and the famous Pier 39 is always an exciting moment. This trip was uniquely special, as I have never traveled to San Francisco this early in the year. One of my favorite parts of San Francisco is Pier 39—the beautiful view of the ocean, Alcatraz, and the best part—the sea lions that reside on the docks next to Pier 39.

Pier 39

I’ve only seen a few sea lions here and there on my previous trips, but this time, the docks were covered with sea lions taking siestas and sunbathing. Being a lover of animals, I became excited immediately. I’m curious about animals I don’t see on a regular basis and enjoy watching their interactions. After minutes of gazing, curiously watching their every move, and taking what seemed like a hundred photos, my husband and I finally were on our way. As we walked away, I read history boards explaining how the sea lions came to be on this specific dock and why they are there, and so on. I was surprised to find out that one certain nonprofit organization helps ensure the safety of these few 300 sea lions that have made this dock their home.

The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit organization located in San Francisco bay area, on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. This organization offers a multitude of protection for these curiously precious creatures. The purpose of the organization is to share knowledge about marine mammals, their health, and that of their environment, and encourage the global conservation of these animals and their environment.

Initially, the organization was founded by three local citizens, and has expanded its program within its 600 mile operating range. Now, the organization relies heavily on its 1,000+ volunteers who help rescue and rehabilitate injured sea lions, and also participate in the educating portion of the organization’s duties. These people volunteer because they are passionate about the work they do and believe their hard work is being done for good.

It was an incredible thing to learn about and truly touched my heart. I was unaware of all the work that went into conserving the health of these animals, and was impacted to find out the amount of effort by caring humans that is put into this organization.

Pier 39 sea lions

If you are like me, and love animals, I encourage you to seek organizations that are similar to this one. If you are from the bay area, go to the Marine Mammal Center and find out more information here—find out how you can help and become involved.

If you don’t live in the area, check out the website and see how else you can be involved—attend an eventbecome a member, or Adopt-a-Seal.

Find your calling! Find your passion and pursue it!

Have a great day and a great week!

Reno Artown Volunteering Opportunities

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March 20th officially marked the beginning of spring, and like any other normal human, I too want to be spending the majority of my time outside, enjoying the warmth of the sun as it penetrates my skin. Spring time offers a variety of activities to engage in as the weather begins to warm up, people begin to fill the streets, and flowers begin to bloom. Every city has its extraordinary mass of events to take part in, and Reno is no different from any other city!

Spring and summer in Reno is a dream come true for all the nature hikers, bikers, walkers, swimmers, lake-goers, or just the simple person who loves to be outside. Reno weather may be crazy and unpredictable at times, but when it comes to summer, the beautiful warm weather makes the day great, no matter what you’re doing.

Among the many activities to engage in, one of the most popular events that take place in the heart of downtown Reno is Reno Artownweb-Artown This event takes place in the month of July in which works of art created by artists from all around the world, across the country, and even within the Reno community are shared with the community, travelers who come specifically for the event, and even passersby who just happened to be in the area.

Artown 2012 featured nearly 500 different events, and 100 workshops, all of which were hosted by organizations and businesses of Reno and surrounding cities. This month-long art festival is greatly organized and planned to the core. Each event is carefully managed and aided by volunteers—volunteers who are a big part of the success of the events. Each year, Artown seeks volunteers to help maintain the success of events through the month of July. Some of the responsibilities of these volunteers include greeting guests, collecting event tickets, assisting with seating, providing information to guests, and aiding performers, along with other similar tasks. Being a volunteer for Artown is a great way to engage in a diversely cultural setting as well as serve for a purpose and enjoy an amazing event. If you are interested in volunteering this summer, click here to find out more information on what you do and who to talk to. Reno Artown is a big summer event for the community. It’s a great place to relax, enjoy some form of artwork, and create memories, either as a volunteer or a spectator.

I hope you’ll consider being a part of Reno’s local event. Please check out the website for Artown and check out the volunteer section to see what is it that volunteers do. It may be the perfect summer activity you are looking for.

If you have volunteered or been a part of the Reno Artown festivals in the past, please share your experience below in the comment box.

Have a great day!

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Your Health: The Benefits That Come From Volunteering

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People want to be healthy. They always have, and they always will. But being healthy isn’t just about eating right, or exercising to be fit. There are other ways to sustain good health—physical and mental. According to The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research, there is a strong connection between good health and volunteering, so much that those who volunteer, in comparison with those who don’t, have lower rates of mortality and depression. Good for the Soul There have also been several studies showing that age groups are affected differently by volunteering. Older volunteers, for example, are more likely to have greater benefits from volunteering either because they are faced with a higher incidence of illnesses or simply because their mental and social activity has given them a sense of purpose during a time when their roles in society require less of them.

How much time do you reserve for volunteer purposes annually? According to the studies presented in the above report, an individual who dedicates at least 100 hours of their time to volunteer work has higher health benefits than the individual who dedicates less. Specialized surveys have been conducted to evaluate the benefits of volunteering by measuring the benefits of the volunteer activities and the impact those activities have on the community. What the surveys revealed was that those who volunteered attained greater health benefits than those who were the recipients of the support given through the activities.

Specifics about your Mental Health and Physical Well-Being

As I mentioned before, volunteering has a number of positive effects—specifically, volunteering can impact your psychological state in an effective manner. Some psychological factors could be a sense of accomplishment and a sense of purpose. Volunteering also has its social benefits. Because volunteering usually requires human interaction, there is always a chance for social networking, which can help shield stress and reduce the risk of disease. All of these positive social psychological factors are also directly correlated to your physical well-being and can decrease the chances of poor health conditions.

Social integration theory, which includes volunteering, social psychological factors, and social networks, is described as “the extent to which an individual participates in a broad range of social relationships.” (Cohen, Underwood, & Gottlieb, 2000) According to Social Support Measurement and Intervention: A Guide for Health and Social Scientists, having a sense of purpose and satisfaction in your life reduces the chances for illness, risk for disease, and depression; and those who are more socially integrated in life live longer.

Just remember: Those who give of themselves also receive.

According to what I have stated, do you agree with my suggested points? Do you believe that volunteering leads to health benefits or is a healthy individual more likely to volunteer due to their healthy state? Share your thoughts below!

Have a great, and HEALTHY, day!

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Big Brothers Big Sisters in Just One, Two, Three!

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I had a rather different spring break than most college students my age. This year wasn’t about which beach to head to, what cruise line I should try to go on, or what awesome city I should try to visit. I decided to stay here, in good old Reno, Nevada. Early on, I had decided that if I was going to start getting involved in more than just a couple of volunteer projects, I needed to start using my free time to search for those opportunities. Mission accomplished. I am now involved in at least four different projects that will take place from now until July and I am thrilled!

In fact, the process was easy! There are a number of different websites that are easily accessible for those who want to know what organizations need volunteers as well as which areas are in need of those volunteers. Personally, Volunteermatch.org has always been a valuable resource. The site helps recruit volunteers, allows organizations to post for needed volunteers, and even has a blog where volunteermatch members can post their experiences, ideas, or projects, to share with readers, as well as have “guest” bloggers to share.

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Over spring break, I used volunteermatch.org to find some volunteer projects happening in Reno. I wanted to jump right in. Immediately, a list of different organizations and clubs in need of volunteers popped up and it was only a matter of reading through the descriptions of the roles of such volunteers that I picked one that interested me. I simply filled out a couple questions, basic things such as my name, date of birth, place of residence, and my email. The very next day, I was contacted by a representative of the organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters, to make inquiries about my interest in the organization. It was as easy as that.

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In early April, I will be attending an orientation put on by the organization to get a detailed explanation about what the organization does, who they help, and what we, as volunteers, bring to those who need help. More information about the organization is to come.

For now, I just wanted to share my joy with you. I hope this gives some of you a little inspiration. Perhaps you’ll want to join, check out the organization, or even find your own interests in volunteering.

Please check out Volunteermatch.org and other websites like it that can help with volunteer related opportunities. It’s a great way to become involved in the community, and if nothing else, at least you’ll know for future reference where you can turn for volunteer work.

Have a great week!

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Be Part of a Popular Local Event: The Reno Tahoe Odyssey (May 31-June 1)

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This week, I had the opportunity to sign up to volunteer for an extravagant event that takes place here in my very own city—the Reno Tahoe Odyssey presented by Intuit. RTO It is a wildly popular relay race made up of 178 miles that can take up to 33 hours to complete, depending on your team’s ability to race against time! The racers begin the relay in Reno, run along the Truckee River, trail along the shores of some of Lake Tahoe, and end back in downtown Reno, as shown here. The scenic views and historical trails of this race are some of the best reasons why teams have admitted to participating!

The event is highly organized, consisting of a mass amount of volunteers that are utilized for a variety of tasks. Each volunteer has a specific task—and stationed at a specific area along the route of the race. The nice thing about being a volunteer is that you are able to sign up for whichever position you would like, according to the volunteer signup website. As a volunteer, you have a variety of choices when deciding in which area you would like to be stationed—specific areas if you are volunteering for a team that is racing. When I signed up on the website, I chose two particular locations to volunteer because my oldest sister and her friends are one of the teams in the relay race, and I wanted to choose a station where I would have the chance to cheer her on and watch her race.

The great thing about an event like this is that, as a volunteer, you are able to invite others—friends, family, spouses—to be a part of it. General volunteers are also welcome, and can sign up for other job types if the race stations is something a person would rather not do. For this event, I am lucky to have my husband accompanying me! He hasn’t done much volunteer work, apart from the times I have suggested we work together, and we always have a great time. RTO 2 I expect a lot of great things from this event, including an opportunity to do good for the community in the company of my husband, meeting other Reno natives who are highly involved in the community, and create new friendships with those in the race, and those who are a part of the volunteer crew.

Opportunities like these are too good to pass up. Today, sign up to volunteer! Enjoy being outdoors, invite your friends or loved ones, cheer on those who are in the race, and share the experience with those who haven’t had the chance to take part.

If you have been a part of this event before, or have an interesting story, please share that information below. I am curious to hear of others’ experiences as I am extremely excited for this opportunity!

Thank you and have a great week!

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True Local Kindness in Reno Community

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A strong community is one that is supported by those who are a part of the community. You are the one who chooses to be a part of it, and you can better it in a number of ways. That is exactly what residents of Reno, Nevada are doing. In 2011, a woman named Lynette Eddy felt that the community was missing something—there was an excess of young males transitioning from foster homes to independent living, but struggling to do so, and she felt that the community could offer those young men a smoother path in their transition. By early 2011, Lynette Eddy formed a non-profit organization called The Black Bear Project.

The Black Bear Project is an opportunity for young males, ages 17 ½ to 22, to thrive in their environment successfully. The project provides specialized housing for the young individuals who are too old to live in foster homes and are trying to live independently. Image The Black Bear Project offers these kids a chance to seek out educational goals, while learning to budget and provide for themselves in this new chapter of their lives. Eddy also believes that maintaining a job is an important part of the success of these young boys, as it will teach them about responsibility and how to manage schedules.

Eddy, shortly after the Black Bear Project was initiated, decided to provide a working place specifically for the young males she helps through her housing program. The housing residents work at Z Pie, a new local franchise, that helps the boys experience what the work life is all about, while cooking delicious meat pies and other delicious menu items for the community. All profits from Z Pie go back into the Black Bear Project.

The project has been a great success and the community has been impacted in a positive way, as have been the young boys who have become a part of the program. Like Z Pie, there are other people and local businesses investing their time and services to the local community to ensure that Reno, Nevada has a strong community. I encourage you all to take part in the beauty that is created in this Little Big City. The number of ways to get involved is infinite. Lynette Eddy followed her passion—helping young males achieve success in life. What is your passion?

For more information on the project, Z Pie’s involvement, visit their website: http://www.theblackbearproject.org/

Know someone who could benefit from the program? Encourage them to apply for residence by filling out an application here.

Remember that profits from Z Pie go back into the Black Bear Project. Any of these days that you are feeling like eating at a local business, stop by Z Pie and have yourself a delicious meat pie or even some dessert. Impact your community! And tell your friends about it!

Have a great week everybody!

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Think Globally and Act Locally

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This coming Friday is International Women’s Day. It’s a day dedicated to women all around the world for their progress and achievement.

International Women's Day

Throughout the month of March, a multitude of events take place all around the globe. These events are held to mark the economic, political, and social accomplishments of women.

International Women’s Day has been an observed day dating back to the 1900s and each year, governments, charities, organizations, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day!

This year, I encourage you, readers of both genders, to step out into the world, and take action! Anything you’d like! But “think globally and act locally.”

One of this year’s inspirational events taking place on International Women’s Day is presented by Luna, the maker of the Whole Nutrition Bar for women. The event called The Lunafest Story, strives to connect women, and give them recognition for their stories and their causes through film. This traveling film festival shines the light on the work of a vast number of female filmmakers that provides humor, intellect, and provocative themes.

If you are a Reno local, and are interested in becoming active this International Women’s Day, join The Zonta Club of Greater Reno and UNR’s Women in Science and Engineering (W.I.S.E.) at the University of Nevada, Reno. The two groups will be hosting a Lunafest event  and all proceeds will go towards women of the community—through scholarships, grants, and program support! I strongly encourage you to take advantage of an opportunity like this.

Events like this one are happening NOW, so be active! Find your passion! And do something good!

For more information on Luna and The Lunafest Story visit http://www.lunafest.org/

For the Reno locals, I urge you to check out the website for the event at the University of Nevada, Reno. It is bound to be an experience that will impact you. Below is the link.

http://www.lunafest.org/reno

Have a great week all! Happy International Women’s Day to all the women all around the world!