Thursday, February 26, 2009


It is not too late to be a part of Servapalooza!

Volunteer San Diego, eXcel Youth Zone and Kids for Peace are co-hosting Servapalooza to celebrate Global Youth Service Day On Sunday, April 26th. Over 3,000 adults, youths, teens and families are celebrating in Balboa Park. Servapalooza will include a Parade of Wishes, entertainment, food, prizes, and Service Stations with hands-on activities!

How to Participate?

There are many fun ways to take part in Servapalooza before, after and during the event! Check out all the ways you can be involved!

Wish Create a wish for the world; do a service project to grant your wish; and celebrate at Servapalooza by marching in the Parade of Wishes and displaying your Wish Banner at the event.

Serve Interested teens and college groups are matched with community organizations to facilitate the hands-on service project at the Service Station.

Help us plan the event by being a member of a planning team. If interested, please email Brandi at

Volunteer the day of the event and receive a FREE Servapalooza backpack and an exclusive Servapalooza t-shirt! Sign up today!

Support Win great prizes by raising money to support youth serving year-round. When you serve they stay in school, say no to drugs and violence, and continue to serve their whole lives! What a great cause!

Participate Come to Servapalooza and have fun at the festival. Participate in Service Stations, complete Servapalooza passport to win Service Hero button, enjoy the entertainment, eat, dance, etc.

Promote Invite others to join you at Servapalooza. Share with your family, friends, clubs, school, churches, synagogues, libraries, coffee houses, etc.

For more information on how to participate and on Servapalooza, please click here.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Casino Night at Windsor Gardens

When you first walk into the dining room of Windsor Gardens Rehabilitation Center, it seems like nothing but a big room with two tables, a few residents and some volunteers. But, the room quickly fills up with laughter and fun as the seniors try to win a couple hands of blackjack...and they mean business! For every five chips they win, they receive a quarter (always rounding up, not down).

I met some very interesting residents, including Emmie, a very sweet lady in her late 60s, who seemed to be even more outgoing and vivacious in her younger years. Emmie and her partner in crime across the table seemed to love just having the company of fellow volunteers. The residents and volunteers sat together at the two tables, sharing stories of lifetime accomplishments, jokes and camaraderie. As the night progressed, the residents opened up to share stories of their past and even compliment the volunteers. I remember after Emmie won a few hands of blackjack, she looked at me with curious eyes and said, "You have such a pretty nose!" I looked at her with confusion and she quickly pointed to her nose to share that she felt her nose was just not as cute as mine. Most don't know this, but I have big ears that stick straight out of my head on both sides. I pulled my hair back and spoke clear enough for the table to hear, "Trust me honey your nose doesn't even COMPARE to these ears!!" The room burst into laughter from the quick comeback I had made. "I noticed, but didn't want to say anything," she replied.

The hour and a half seemed to fly by as some won money and others lost, while residents shared stories with volunteers, and as volunteers helped residents with their final hands. For my first volunteering in the Flex Program, it seemed like a project I would plan on attending again.

An hour of your time may become a lifetime memory for someone you helped.

Renee Bovee is a member of the Flex program and a volunteer blogger for Volunteer San Diego.

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A Volunteer Invitation (Plus One)

A few weeks back, a very sweet conversation took place on the VSD Podcast. Episode 75 featured VSD volunteer, Casey DeLorne, getting a bunch of sound advice from a panel of knowledgeable volunteerism experts. Casey wanted to know if it is a good idea to invite a woman on a date to a volunteer project. In a nutshell, the panelists (who all happened to be women) said YES! I've been wondering if Casey has actually gone through with this good idea. And if so, how did it go?

I have heard about people who have met at volunteer projects, like my friends Kathy & Dean who got to know each other while working in a field of invasive yellow starthistles. Kathy & Dean fell in love and have been married for four years. I haven't heard too much about people using volunteer opportunities as a way to get to know one another, however. Share your volunteer dating stories below and inspire other readers to be bold enough to ask their special someones out for a Flex date.

Anna Schulz is a member of the Flex program and a volunteer blogger for Volunteer San Diego. She also writes for her family blog, The Full Catastrophe.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gracias a Las Patronas

Volunteer San Diego recognizes Las Patronas for their generous donation. With their support, we were able to purchase a cargo van to support our Disaster and other Volunteer Programs. Their community contributions are invaluable. Additional thanks to Qualcomm for their funding and Kearny Pearson Ford for their excellent service.

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Superhero of the Month: Betty Gossett

This month we would like to recognize Betty Gossett, a volunteer with Alvarado Hospital. Alvarado Hospital's programs include cardiac services, emergency medicine services, neuroscience, orthopedics, oncology, rehabilitation, general surgical services, skull base surgery, vascular services and surgical weight reduction.

"Betty is the Gift Shop Chairperson. She not only volunteers in the gift shop 3 times a week but she also trains all the new gift shop volunteers. She actively participates in the Ways and Means committee helping with many fundraisers throughout the year. As the Gift Shop Chairperson, she is an active member of the Alvarado Hospital Auxiliary Board. Betty also gets donations and puts together gift bags for home health patients every Christmas." Stated by Holly Smith, Coordinator of Volunteer Services.

Each month, Betty volunteers about 100 hours and has been doing so for almost 18 years at Alvarado Hospital totaling over 19,800 hours. Congratulations to Betty for her extraordinary record of service.

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Flexible Volunteers Get It Done!

Flex keeps growing and improving the community! In the month of December, 445 new volunteers joined Flex and attended orientations. Welcome to you all!

Thanks to Flex volunteers like you...
751 volunteers completed 77 projects and 1,511 hours of service.

Not yet a Flex Member?
Please take our online Flex Orientation!

Have you ever considered becoming a Flex Team Leader? We need Team Leaders for:

* Childcare at the Women's Resource Center (WRC) - 5th Wednesday (when we have a 5th Wednesday) and 3rd Saturday of each month

* North County Food Bank - 1st-3rd Thursday of each month

* Meals at Merle's Place - 3rd Monday of each month

* Oak Park Branch Library - Wants to start a homework helpers project so looking for team leaders to get started

If you are interested in becoming a Team Leader for any of the above projects (or have an idea for a new project you would like to lead), please email Debbie ( or call her at (858) 636-4184.

If you live in South County and are interested in being a Team Leader, especially for Homework Helper projects, please contact Leia ( or call her at (858) 636-4139. We are currently trying to start Homework Helper projects in South County and need your help to make it happen.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hot Projects

These Hot Projects are in need of your help. In case you can't help this time, share this message with someone who may be able to give a hand.

For Valentine's Day, Resolve to Save a Heart!
The San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross is asking for volunteer help with its annual CPR Saturday schedule for March 14 at Golden hall. On that date, thousands of San Diegans will earn FREE adult CPR certifications, but help is also needed the day before and the following Monday for event set-up and disassembly. The best present you could give on Valentine's Day is a decision to volunteer for CPR Saturday, now a San Diego tradition. Help those who are teaching others how to save hearts and lives. For more information, click here.

Weed Whackin' Saturdays
Survivors of the 2007 Wildfires need your help! Volunteer San Diego is seeking community volunteers to help provide brush management services for fire survivors in need. With assistance from local fire recovery centers and partner organizations, teams of volunteers will be able to provide these services at no cost to fire survivors who are either senior citizens, physically unable, low-income, under-insured or challenged by special circumstances. Sign up now! No experience necessary - we provide the training!

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VSD News and Notes

Keep up-to-date with this latest information from Volunteer San Diego.

Oscar Night 2009
The 2009 Oscars are on February 22nd and you can celebrate Volunteer San Diego style. There will be food, games, and celebrity viewings! Mark your calendars and walk the red carpet with Volunteer San Diego. To purchase tickets and for more information, click here.

Servapalooza is Coming!
Volunteer San Diego, eXcel Youth Zone and Kids for Peace are co-hosting Servapalooza to celebrate Global Youth Service Day. Servapalooza is a Service Festival and Parade of Wishes in Balboa Park on Sunday April 26, 2009. Participants will enjoy the entertainment, Parade of Wishes, food, vendor booths, raffle prizes and the main event, Service Stations. To find out more, click here.

We are still looking for volunteers to help plan Servapalooza. If you are interested in being on the team to make the magic of Servapalooza, please contact

10News Leadership Award
With Volunteer San Diego, Sempra Energy Foundation and LEAD San Diego, the 10News Leadership Award recognizes someone who provides leadership by making San Diego a better place to live, by standing up for those who need help, and improving the quality of life for all San Diegans. Nominate a leader for their work in the categories of Volunteerism, Environment, Diversity or Community Action.

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Time To Get To Work

"We are the ones we've been waiting for." Alice Walker

This quote seemed particularly appropriate after an exciting month where no less than the President called us all to serve. I was especially encouraged that he asked Americans to consider making a long-term commitment to an organization or cause. He understands that some projects can be completed in a day - and that healing lives as a mentor or coach or leader needs relationships and service that endure.

So now what?

For those who haven't served yet - start today. VSD's Flex Projects are the perfect place to begin.

For those already serving on a short-term basis, consider the impact you could make with a longer-term commitment.

For those hardy souls already in for the long haul, talk to your favorite organization about their most critical needs and explore how you can be a partner in meeting them.

Our waiting is over. I can't wait to see what we do as a community.

Sue Carter
Executive Director
Volunteer San Diego

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Beckwourth Homework Helpers

I started volunteering with Volunteer San Diego a few years ago and dabbled in a little bit of everything that they offer. I tried out some of their senior citizen lunches, the San Diego Food Bank, Brown Baggers, and Special Delivery to name a few. I finally found my perfect volunteering opportunity with the Beckwourth Homework Helpers program. My office is downtown and I get off at 5:00pm, so it makes for perfect timing since Beckwourth Homework Helpers starts at 6:00pm in the barrio area. The first night I went, Austen (the team leader) graciously greeted me at the door and paired me up with a girl named Erica. She said she needed help with her math homework and when I asked if she was good at math, she said no. She was timid at first, and would quietly ask if she had done her problem correctly. She did a wonderful job so I praised her and let her know that she was in fact quite good at math. From that point on, she sped through her homework with a huge smile on her face. All she needed was a little positive reinforcement and it felt good knowing that I could give that to her.

The kids and young adults that come to The Beckwourth Homework Helpers are all very bright and typically just like confirmation that they are doing things correctly. It's nice going on a regular basis because then you can follow up with the students to see how their test went, or what grade they earned on their essay or even just to say hello again.

For me, The Beckwourth Homework Helpers has been the most rewarding volunteering experience that I have had through Volunteer San Diego. I recommend this program to everyone, even if you feel like you're not particularly good in one subject. The educational needs range from learning to read to advanced biology to simple math to pre calculus to Spanish. No matter what subject you help someone in, you'll walk away knowing that you helped a child learn something and feel more confident in their skills.

Lacy Bird is a member and Team Leader of the Flex program and a volunteer blogger for Volunteer San Diego.

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Amen to Community Serve Day

My hat is off to the members of Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. The congregants mobilized 1500 volunteers in service projects throughout San Diego County. This "Community Serve Day" is a shining example of the positive impact that teams of volunteers can have on our neighborhoods. Volunteer San Diego can help you and your company, friends, and family on your own group volunteer project. Check out the group volunteering page at for more information.

Anna Schulz is a member of the Flex program and a volunteer blogger for Volunteer San Diego. She also writes for her family blog, The Full Catastrophe.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Is Volunteerism on the Rise?

It's the million dollar question of the month at VSD - have we seen an increase in volunteerism as a result of President Obama's call to serve?

It's still early to measure actual service, but we do know our web traffic is surging (14,658 visitors this month vs. 11,048 in January ’08).

And this is consistent with an exciting trend we’ve seen at VSD over the last two years -awareness and participation in service is on the rise. See related story:

I thought you might be interested in checking out some of our key areas of growth:
-the Flexible Volunteer Program: a core VSD program with 900+ projects every year!
-web traffic: critical to our success since most of our connections are made through our online database. You’ll note the significant increase last year that resulted from the 2007 wildfires.

In fact, one of VSD's goals after the fires was to sustain the volunteer spirit and action that emerged so strongly in our community. We've made great strides in doing exactly that. We are hopeful that President Obama's call to service will provide even more inspiration for would-be volunteers.

We are actively pursuing partners to ready ourselves and the community for future growth in mobilizing volunteers - and helping build the volunteer engagement capacity of organizations that need them. If you would like to partner with, fund or advise us in this effort or know someone who would, please let me know. We gratefully acknowledge QUALCOMM for generously pledging $50,000 in support of the Flexible Volunteer Program. Their ongoing support has been a critical factor in our growth success.

Thanks for your support!

Sue Carter
Executive Director
Volunteer San Diego

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