Friday, September 24, 2010

Our blog has moved

Volunteer San Diego's Blog has moved to WordPress.

Please follow our blog there and don't forget to subscribe so you can receive an e-mail notification when we post something new.

Thank you.

- Volunteer San Diego Staff

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A is for Asparagus, B is for Beets, C is for...

The Arc of San Diego North Shores Vocational Center is a leading provider of services for people with disabilities. This year we're going to finish the planter boxes that were left unfinished by some good-hearted volunteers. Finishing these planter boxes will provide a hands-on way for people with disabilities to learn about the importance of nutrition and to develop their self-help skills. Read more about project details! Sign up to volunteer today!

Chris and Diana

We'd be delighted for you to participate with us in this awesome day of community building!

Which Serve-a-thon project will you be participating in to impact Education in San Diego?

Diana Farias and Chris Heinrich are Serve-a-thon Site Captains for A is for Asparagus, B is for Beets, C is for...

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Beautify a School with Color

If you're artistic, love paint, or just want to help out at a school that really needs it, we want you to volunteer! Rowan Elementary is painting a mural with the theme of "character building." The school hopes the mural's central location will help educate its students about the importance of key character traits, like respect, kindness, determination and more! The mural will also help beautify the school and make it a better and more fun place for students to learn! Register today.

Rachel Lebowitz is an AmeriCorps VIP Fellow with Outside the Lens and Serve-a-thon Site Captain for Beautify a School with Color.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AmeriCorps Reflections on Service - Part 4

The final post in our "AmeriCorps Reflections" series this month is from Gypsy Walukones, AmeriCorps Member - Disaster Outreach Coordinator.

It is somewhat overwhelming to look back at everything I’ve learned during my AmeriCorps year. Aside from picking up enough acronyms to fill a word-of-the-day desk calendar, I gained experience in writing press releases, recruiting and training volunteers, and working with governmental and non-governmental organizations in the disaster arena. I developed a social media plan and documented processes for Emergency Volunteer Centers. I have been given the chance to improve my public speaking skills and represent the program and organization.

I appreciate the opportunities Volunteer San Diego has given me as well as all the help and support I have received from staff, Disaster Cadre volunteers, and fellow AmeriCorps members. It has been an honor and pleasure to work with such an innovative, energetic, and motivated group of people!

Thank you, Gypsy! The energy and talent you have brought to the Disaster Program have made it a pleasure to work with you.

We hope you have read all four of these reflections from Jennie, Sharon, Nate and Gypsy. We have been inspired by all of them. We are sad to see their year of service come to a close, but are proud of each of their accomplishments. We are also happy that many will be staying close by! Gypsy will volunteer on the Disaster Cadre as a Public Information Officer, Sharon is serving on our Serve-a-thon Committee, and Jennie will join our staff as the new Community Organization Services Coordinator. Our sincere gratitude and best wishes go to all four!

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Monday, August 16, 2010

AmeriCorps Reflections on Service - Part 3

The third reflection comes from Nate Kieso, AmeriCorps VISTA - Community Organization Liaison.

This is my second year, well spent, with AmeriCorps VISTA. I began my work in Iowa in response to the historic floods of 2008. Working for AmeriCorps has been the most rewarding work I had ever done in my life, so I decided to continue in service of my country. AmeriCorps VISTA gave me the tools and the chance to go to San Diego and do meaningful work for Volunteer San Diego. In turn Volunteer San Diego has enabled me to develop my professional skills and provide me with a firm foundation in San Diego, which I am proud to call my new home. I am excited to continue in service to my new community! Also, no offense to my hometown, but I love this land without snow!

Thank you, Nate! Your dedication to and passion for service has been an inspiration to all of us at Volunteer San Diego.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AmeriCorps Reflections on Service - Part 2

This second reflection comes from Sharon Lynn, AmeriCorps Member - Volunteer Relations Coordinator.

As my term of AmeriCorps service comes to a close, I have many reasons to be grateful for the experience of working at Volunteer San Diego.  As a previous office volunteer for Volunteer San Diego and Serve-a-thon Committee Member, I thought I knew a lot about how much work the staff handled and how the organization was run.  Once I became part of the staff, I realized how much I had not been aware of and how motivated the staff is on a daily basis to accomplish all that is humanly possible to make this the best organization it can be.

My position as Volunteer Relations Coordinator was a challenge in that I was walking on some new territory for the organization, combined with a huge amount of new territory for myself.  In my assignment of onboarding New Flex Team Leaders and Internal Volunteers, I was the instrument for implementing newly created systems while formalizing all pertinent documentation.  Thank you Volunteer San Diego for guiding, encouraging, and helping me stretch in ways I had not imagined possible!

Thank you, Sharon! We are constantly impressed with your motivation and all the amazing work you have done at VSD.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

AmeriCorps Reflections on Service - Part 1

This month, four talented AmeriCorps members will end their year of service with Volunteer San Diego. We will be posting their reflections on their service year here on our blog. The first comes from Jennie McDonald, AmeriCorps VISTA - Community Organization Liaison.

"If you had asked me last year what I hoped to accomplish during my term as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Volunteer San Diego, I would have answered in terms of small goals. I initially hoped to improve my public speaking skills and gain experience in the San Diego nonprofit community. I achieved these goals and more. I helped implement an orientation for community organizations, collaborated with community members to improve volunteer programs, and gained confidence as a nonprofit professional. I am completing my term with the self-assurance that my hard work has made a meaningful difference at Volunteer San Diego, and in the greater community. I am incredibly grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities that AmeriCorps and Volunteer San Diego have given me in this life-changing year." 

Thank you, Jennie! We are incredibly grateful for your service and all you have contributed to VSD and the San Diego community.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Volunteer San Diego website and email down

Unfortunately, Volunteer San Diego's website and email system have been down since Sunday. We have been working all morning to resolve this issue and hope to have it fixed as quickly as possible. If you have sent us anything urgent via email, please note that we have not received it. If you need to reach us, you can do so by calling us at 858-300-3280.

Thank you for your patience.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Everyone Has A Little Captain In Them!

As a volunteer I always wondered what went on behind the scenes. My curiosity first led me to become a Team Leader for the Flexible Volunteer Program with Volunteer San Diego. My particular project was a piece of cake. There were three other team leaders if I ever needed someone to cover, the project had already been running for ten years so there was already a smooth line of communication with the library, and there were a myriad of "regulars" who attended the project.

Fast forward and I am signing up to be a Site Captain for Serve-a-thon 2009. This should be just like being a Team Leader, right? Wrong. All of these projects are quite literally just "ideas-written-on-paper" until you bring them to life. It's all you. Everything from contacting the site where you'll be volunteering, to getting the supplies that you'll be using, to keeping contact with the volunteers you'll be leading, to running the show on the day of. After learning all of this, my expectations flew out the window.

I attended my first training to get a better hold on what I needed to do. When I arrived, everything was so overwhelming. I was already off to a bit of a late start because I had missed a couple trainings. The Site Captains there all seemed unfazed by the daunting tasks ahead of them. It was intimidating to sit and listen to all the progress they had already made. Then, I realized what all these Site Captains already knew. I understood why they didn't seemed worried: It isn't all you. You are not alone. The staff at VSD is there for a reason. Between trainings and emails there was always someone around to answer questions.

Fast forward through a few more trainings and the project is finally here. My project went off with a few bumps here and there, but overall, it was a huge success. KUSI even came out to film us at one point. I would later find out that my fellow Site Captains had similar experiences and that all of Serve-a-thon was going great. It felt good to be a part of something that was making such a huge impact.

So that was my story from last year. I was scared, I had no idea what to expect, and I had a late start to top it all off. A year later I am signed up to do it all over again. This time around it looks like it will be even easier to ask questions and get support. Hopefully my story can provide hope for those wondering if they can do it; a year ago I wasn't sure that I could. With a positive attitude and a little help from VSD, I discovered that I had a little captain in me.

Site Captains are still needed for Volunteer San Diego's Serve-a-thon 2010. If you are motivated, have (or want to gain) great leadership skills, have a desire to give back to the community, can inspire people and want to have some fun...then Volunteer San Diego is looking for you! For more information, click here.

Andrew Tran is a Serve-a-thon Site Captain and Flex Team Leader for Volunteer San Diego. He also has his own blog, Ramblings of Andrew Tran.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Secret to Effective Nonprofits? Good Volunteer Engagement

Recent research is confirming what we’ve often witnessed at Volunteer San Diego: organizations that engage volunteers well are more effective than those that do not. Earlier this year, I had the chance to hear preliminary findings of this research from Peter York of the TCC Group. He discovered that “organizational effectiveness is significantly stronger for nonprofits with more than 50 volunteers AND a robust volunteer management model.” He termed these organizations service enterprises.

The paper concludes with a recommendation for the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors to invest in developing service enterprises and to empower intermediary service organizations that support multiple community programs.

As your local intermediary service organization, VSD has long advocated that it is not enough to involve volunteers, it also is critical to engage them well. Yet many organizations haven’t invested in volunteerism. Many do not have staff dedicated to supporting volunteers. Even those that do struggle to adequately prepare the staff member; only 30% of staff with volunteer administration responsibilities have had any training.

It’s one of the reasons that VSD invests in building the capacity of organizations to engage volunteers well through volunteer project management, training, networking, resource sharing, and placement of volunteer infrastructure-building AmeriCorps members.

We are thrilled to learn about this validation of our work and the work of our partner organizations. I look forward to reporting more when I return from our national conference next week.

Thanks for your support of VSD and volunteerism!
Sue Carter
Executive Director

Why 50 Volunteers Make a Difference

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