Tag Archives: ideas

High School Student’s Published Portraits of Service Leaders

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, high school senior Nathan Zucker produced Advocates of Service, a series of photos and biographies profiling service leaders in his community.  The series shares the portraits and stories of 18 diverse volunteers in his community – from a high school student who started a modest international non-profit organization, to a senior citizen who organizes mother/daughter math and science nights closer to home. (View the profiles here: http://flickr.com/gp/46107772@N03/Z755iT)

Nathan viewed the service-learning project as an opportunity to improve his photography skills and apply them to improving his community. He worked with adult mentors including his Advanced Photo teacher in the school’s fine arts magnet program and Michael Collopy, a commercial photographer with a humanitarian focus (see Architects of Peace) who taught Nathan tips for creating engaging, personal, and inspirational portraits.

Nathan’s own book, Advocates of Service was the culmination of his year long senior exit project, QUEST.  Through QUEST, students at Irvington High School in Fremont develop a Question, work to Understand it through research, gain Experience by working with a consultant, provide a Service to their community to further understand the issue, then provide both written and oral Testimony. (Every year, each of Irvington’s 400+ seniors complete a QUEST service-learning project on their path toward graduation.)

Working with his teachers, Nathan developed a guiding question for his project:   Why are non-profits in such short supply of volunteers, what are the benefits of volunteering, and how can I inspire others to volunteer? Nathan came to learn that non-profit organizations are facing tremendous challenges addressing the needs of communities during the economic crisis.  He also studied the impacts of the “me” oriented society and pressures on individuals to work and care for their own families.

To address the challenge, Nathan chose to focus on volunteers in his own community.  By showing volunteers of diverse ages, backgrounds, experiences, and service types, Nathan hopes to inspire others to get involved.  Each profile shares the very ordinary motivations that helped people get started doing extraordinary work.

The portraits are on display at the Fremont Main Library during National Volunteer Week and Nathan has also been invited to install his work at the Alameda County Office of Education in celebration of this year’s local Art IS Education initiative: Creating Solutions for the World We Share.

Thank you Nathan Zucker for showing a simple, inspirational way to celebrate volunteers and promote volunteerism in our communities!

Nate Ivy

Service-Learning Regional Lead

Alameda County Office of Education


Filed under How cool is that?!, Recognition, Service-Learning

Financial Help: Oklahoma Money Matters

If you’re having problems financially, would like some budgeting advice, or have other financial related concerns – check this out! (P.S. The newsletter also has tips for job searchers!)

Your Bottom Line: January/February Edition

Oklahoma Money Matters presents the January/February 2011 edition of Your Bottom Line, a bi-monthly newsletter produced with personal finance organizations, educators and consumers in mind.

Here’s a quick peek at some of the articles in this edition:

  • Creating a Living Will
  • Job Searching Tips
  • What to Do When You Know Your ID Thief
  • Making a Smart Phone Purchase
  • Preparing for Taxes as a Newlywed

 If you didn’t receive this message directly and would like to subscribe to Your Bottom Line, sign up now.

The OKMM Team

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25th Anniversary of MLK Day

This year, on the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Day, make a promise to serve your community and honor his legacy.

MLK Day is a time not just to honor the memory of a great man, but also to make a dedicated effort to continue his work to make the world a better place. Let’s live by his example. By working together, we, too, can create positive change through service.

Check out serve.gov or use the ServiceNation website to find service opportunities and to learn more about commemorating MLK Day through service.

Find opportunities at Serve.gov
Post an event at Servicenation.org

Since 1986, the third Monday of January has been a federal holiday, but it’s not just any day off from work. In 1994, MLK Day was designated as a national day of service – a day on, not a day off.

No matter what sort of talents and abilities you have, there’s a service activity that will engage you. From painting and rebuilding schools to organizing and assembling care packages, people around the country are taking part in MLK Day to make their community a better place.

This year’s MLK Day of Service is the perfect opportunity to continue the volunteer work you are already doing or find a new opportunity at a local organization.

Get involved in the day of action! Find opportunities at Serve.gov or post an event at Servicenation.org 

Yours in Service,
Greg Propper
Executive Director, ServiceNation

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Filed under How cool is that?!, National, Volunteer Opportunities

Walking Distance Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering is great, but if you don’t have a car and live on-campus it may seem that you have few options. Where can you volunteer that’s nearby and within walking distance?

Contact the staff at the sites listed below to get involved.

Raise funds to support the American Cancer Society in research.  Check out the page above to find out how you can form a team, fundraise, recruit, and more!

Take the online orientation to learn how to help out others during or after a disaster. Learn more about the Red Cross at the Web site, then decide if you want to get involved or not. You don’t have to go to the physical building first.

Call to get involved with a few of these programs: adult programming,youth and family programming, academic programming, lending programs, English classes, referral services, and more.

  • Legal Aid: 312 S. Duck (near intersection of 3rd Street & Duck)

Help with clerical work and shadow for legal awareness.

  • Life Adult Day Center: 411 W. Matthews (in the First Christian Church near Gallagher-Iba Arena) NOT RELIGIOUSLY AFFILIATED.

Help with daily activities – meals, games, crafts, etc.

Talk with the attendees. Listen to them. They’ll love to hear your perspective on life and to share theirs.

Perform a skit for them, play an instrument, teach them a game…. have fun with them.

Mobile volunteers direct donors through the donating process from signing in, to the canteen area. Volunteers also explain and track the current promotions, pre-sign donors for their next blood drive and let donors know when they are eligible to donate again. OBI Volunteers are a necessary part of our ongoing life saving process. Get to know your community, help save lives and have fun doing so. Please join our group; call 405-297-5814 or email jdavis@obi.org.

Garden Volunteer – A program designed for individuals who wish to support the OSU Botanical Garden and special events with their talents but currently have limited time resources. Orientation is required before volunteer service can begin.

Volunteer to coach a kids’ sports team! Fill out the volunteer application to begin now.

Become a literacy volunteer and experience the joy of helping others. Tutoring an hour a week can make a difference for someone who needs Reading or English skills. Free training, materials and support are provided for tutors. Call or email the Stillwater Literacy Council today.

Tutor Training will be in September and October. Conducted by Daniel Devers, certified tutor trainer through ODL.


Arlene Devers
Executive Director
Stillwater Literacy Council

Stillwater Public Library
SLC Office, Room 102

Room 102

  • St. Andrew’s Thrift Store: 504 W. Third (Near Hideaway Pizza, same side of the Street as Chris’s University Spirit Store and right across from the Coffee House)

Volunteers can contribute as little as being a substitute volunteer on an “as needed” bases, to volunteering from one to several days a week or month.  Or they may find a particular talent or skill they enjoy doing at the Thrift Shop, such as at the sales counter, working on or displaying the merchandise, or helping the customers.


Filed under How cool is that?!, OSU, Stillwater, Volunteer Opportunities

Why Volunteer?

by Susan J. Ellis of Energize, Inc.  

People volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, especially wanting to help others. But it’s also OK to want some benefits for yourself from volunteering. Some people are uncomfortable with the notion that a volunteer “benefits” from doing volunteer work. There is a long tradition of seeing volunteering as a form of charity, based on altruism and selflessness. The best volunteering does involve the desire to serve others, but this does not exclude other motivations, as well.  

Instead of considering volunteering as something you do for people who are not as fortunate as yourself, begin to think of it as an exchange. Consider that most people find themselves in need at some point in their lives. So today you may be the person with the ability to help, but tomorrow you may be the recipient of someone else’s volunteer effort. Even now you might be on both sides of the service cycle: maybe you are a tutor for someone who can’t read, while last month the volunteer ambulance corps rushed you to the emergency room. Volunteering also includes “self-help.” So if you are active in your neighborhood crime watch, your home is protected while you protect your neighbors’ homes, too. Adding your effort to the work of others makes everyone’s lives better.  

Think about how much you receive when you give and consider why you want to volunteer. You may have several different reasons. Here are just a few of the many possible motivations identified by other volunteers: 

  • to feel needed
  • to share a skill
  • to get to know a community
  • to demonstrate commitment to a cause/belief
  • to gain leadership skills
  • to act out a fantasy
  • to do your civic duty
  • to relieve the stress of studying
  • because of pressure from a friend or relative
  • satisfaction from accomplishment
  • to keep busy
  • for recognition
  • to repay a debt
  • to donate your professional skills
  • because there is no one else to do it
  • to have an impact
  • to learn something new
  • to express a concern for others
  • for freedom of schedule
  • to help a friend or relative
  • to increase the visibility of your organization
  • for escape
  • to become an “insider”
  • guilt
  • to be challenged
  • to be a watchdog
  • to feel proud
  • to make new friends
  • to explore a career
  • to help someone
  • as therapy
  • to do something different from your job
  • for fun!
  • for religious reasons
  • to earn academic credit
  • to enhance academic skills
  • to keep skills alive
  • because an agency is geographically close
  • to correct an injustice
  • to have an excuse to do what you love
  • to be able to criticize
  • to gain a broader understanding of the world
  • to assure progress
  • to feel good
  • to be part of a team
  • to gain status
  • because you were asked
  • to test yourself
  • to build your resume
  • to be an agent of change
  • because of personal experience with the problem, illness, or cause
  • to stand up and be counted


You will probably have some special reasons of your own. Remember that the motivations you have to select the place to offer your services may not be the reasons why you stay. Once you’re on the volunteer job, you will continue to serve as long as you feel that your efforts are accomplishing something, that your talents are appreciated, and that you make a difference. And if you also like the people with whom you work, so much the better!  

As long as you are truly serving through your volunteer work, isn’t it wonderful that such an exchange occurs? In fact, it tends to strengthen your commitment to volunteering when you can see the benefits to both the recipient of your efforts and to yourself. And it is much more comfortable than “charity” because it upholds the self-esteem of those with whom you volunteer. 

Copyright Energize, Inc., used by permission. http://www.energizeinc.com

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Filed under How cool is that?!, Recognition

5 Quick Workplace Pick-me-ups for the Senses

*Article received from Student Union Human Resources, Nina Mattox*

Healthy Living:

It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon. You’re foggy, unfocused, and you still have several hours of work to get through. Instead of masking the symptoms through another cup of coffee or blearily checking the time every few minutes, try picking yourself back up using the power of one of your senses.

Sound: Play a little energizing music — something that you love, that’ll get your head nodding and your toes tapping. Sure, your coworkers may catch you dancing a little bit in your chair — but the increased energy and enthusiasm with which you’ll be able to tackle your work is worth it! (Cubicle courtesy: be sure to use headphones if the music will distract others!)

Sight: Few things can stimulate and refresh your brain more than a little bit of natural sunlight. When you’re really dragging, try to take five minutes to duck away from your desk and out the door. Whether you can manage a quick walk or just a few deep breaths of air, the light will help decrease your melatonin levels — and wake you right back up.

Scent: Even people who don’t like coffee often get a kick out of the smell of fresh coffee beans — keep a small container by your desk and take a deep whiff when you’re starting to nod off. Don’t find the fragrance of coffee appealing? Not problem — give one of these a try: the scents of peppermint, pine, citrus, eucalyptus, and cinnamon all have a positive effect.

Touch: When you’re really sluggish, a brisk jolt of cold water can liven you right back up. Try splashing it on your face — or drinking a glass of ice water! As a bonus, water will help combat dehydration, a major cause of a brain slow-down. Other ways touch can wake you up — try snapping your fingers a few times or clapping your hands together. Get the blood moving and it’ll help kick you back into high gear.

Taste: When your energy levels are sagging, a crisp, crunchy fruit or vegetable could just put you back on the right track. Keep an apple at your desk or a few carrots on hand and take a moment to perk right back. Other great choices? Peppermint candy, tea, or gum!

The five senses are strong. So when you’re feeling sleepy, put them to work for you!

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Filed under How cool is that?!

National Service Response to the BP Oil Spill

*Letter received from Corporation for National and Community Service.*

Dear Service Colleagues:  

The Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill is one of the most challenging environmental disasters that the country has faced. The communities whose livelihoods are dependent upon the Gulf of Mexico are being severely affected by the oil spill. Demand for clothing, food, employment assistance and crisis counseling, and other social services are mounting. The Corporation’s primary focus in the wake of the disaster is to help mitigate immediate and long-term human, economic and environmental needs through direct service and mobilization and coordination of community volunteers.  

Through its national service programs, the agency is working with Gulf Coast state service commissions and community organizations to expand their operational capacity and develop strategies to recruit and manage volunteers. To date, volunteers and national service participants have been involved in diverse response activities ranging from lining the shores of the Gulf, monitoring coastlines, pre-landfall beach clean-up, providing safety net services, operating and staffing Volunteer Reception Centers, and hosting career fairs for displaced workers.   

The complex nature of oil cleanup, coupled with health and safety concerns, restricts the role of volunteers. The Deepwater Unified Area Command under the direction of Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen has specified that volunteers or unpaid individuals are not allowed to perform hands-on hazardous waste remediation. However, disasters have long-term effects on individuals and communities that are often unpredictable and heighten with time. Because of the intensive and sustained nature of national service programs, national service’s impact is felt long after the initial phase of the disaster.  

The Corporation is launching a multi-faceted, long-term effort to build the capacity of Gulf communities and nonprofits to meet the increasing demand for social services and environmental challenges over the long haul. The agency’s strategy will focus on:  

  • Assessing the impact of the oil spill on area residents to determine the most effective deployment of volunteers.
  • Enhancing volunteer recruitment, management and coordination capacity of nonprofits to strengthen the impact of volunteer service.
  • Enhancing nonprofit capacity to strengthen the health and economic status of communities.
  • Enhancing nonprofit capacity to supplement environmental cleanup efforts.
  • Building public awareness of local environmental hazards resulting from the oil spill and disaster preparedness efforts as hurricane season approaches to enhance public safety.

The call for volunteers is expected to grow considerably over time. At the moment, interested volunteers should focus on connecting with human service agencies and nonprofits in the region that are experiencing increased demand due to the effects of the oil spill. Click here to read the Corporation’s strategy to respond to the BP oil spill. Volunteers should visit Serve.gov to register for service opportunities through the links to the Gulf Coast state service commission websites. 


Kristin McSwain                                               Mikel Herrington  

Chief of Program Operations                            Director NCCC

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Filed under National, Volunteer Opportunities