Monday, July 27, 2009

Hand Up Youth Food Pantry

I recently volunteered with the Jewish Family Service of San Diego, at the Hand Up Youth Food Pantry. Hand Up Youth Food Pantry is a youth-based volunteer project that helps out food pantries all around San Diego, such as in Hillcrest and Kearny Mesa. The youth volunteers help out by sorting cans of food and non-perishable items in the pantry and making cooking and non-cooking bags for the hungry to eat. They also just started monthly distributions of those cooking or non-cooking bags, at Camp Pendleton and Murphy Canyon. At those sites, they work with low income military families in need of food. Hand Up serves all ages throughout the county by combining forces with other small organizations to attempt to diminish the growing rate of hunger not just in San Diego but worldwide. My first experience working with Hand Up Youth Pantry was fun! I figured that it would be just sorting cans into cabinets or shelves of a pantry but on my first day I was put to work!

Shelly Hahne, the Food Pantry Coordinator, was nice and easy to talk to. She encouraged hard work and gave a presentation about the organization. This weekend I arrived to an assembly line of 8 people packing canned vegetables, fruit, peanut butter, popcorn, and granola bars into bags that would be shipped off to the monthly distributions. I helped by securing the food bags and placing them into large buckets filled to the brim. Overall, it was a lot of fun and it encouraged me to take part in a monthly distribution. It gives me satisfaction to know that the military families appreciate the food bags I helped put together.

The Hand Up Youth Food Pantry takes place every Sunday of the month at the Jewish Family Service Center. The "regulars" welcome anyone and are very friendly. Come volunteer now while the food is hot! Sign up for the Hand Up Youth Food Pantry! To find other youth friendly projects, visit Volunteer San Diego.

Camille Carrillo is a volunteer youth blogger for Volunteer San Diego. Camille is 15 years old and is currently a junior at a local charter school where she participates in field hockey and track and field.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tapping the Community for Non-cash Resources: The AmeriCorps Volunteer Infrastructure Program

With the recent economic downturn, families and businesses alike are feeling the strain of limited resources. Nonprofits are no exception to this trend. While demand for the services provided by these organizations is increasing, donations are slowing down, and traditional sources of funding are becoming more and more scarce.

Luckily, not all resources are drying up; volunteerism is at an all-time high! In a strategic effort to address this increase in service, Volunteer San Diego is participating in a new California Volunteers AmeriCorps state program called the Volunteer Infrastructure Program (VIP). The VIP has placed 10 AmeriCorps members in 17 local organizations throughout San Diego County that specifically serve youth and families affected by the economic crisis. The 10 AmeriCorps members are working to help develop each organization’s capacity to recruit, train and place new volunteers. With sustainability in mind, the program intends to create a greater capacity throughout the community to tap into specific skill sets that will help the organizations provide service to the increased clientele base.

In times like these, we have to turn to collaboration and creative solutions to get by day to day. Developing a greater capacity to engage community members in meaningful volunteer service throughout the community will help us create and maintain a positive culture of volunteerism and service in our community and set a standard for creative cooperative solutions nationwide.

-Jared McCannell, Americorps Program Coordinator
Volunteer San Diego

Read what the VIP members have to say:

“I had been wanting to volunteer full-time, but I did not have the resources to do so. AmeriCorps provided me with that opportunity, and now I can do what I love, have my needs met, gain valuable experience, and benefit humanity--all at the same time.”

-Zaira Rodriguez

“Originally, my intention for becoming an AmeriCorps VIP with Volunteer San Diego was to test my skills and challenge myself in a proactive way in the community. Then, I realized that I would be 'getting things done for America.' Because of my desire to serve, I moved across the country from Indiana. My enthusiasm for volunteering continues to be nurtured by my involvement at my site agency eXcel Youth Zone.”

-Allie Chi

“I am excited to join the AmeriCorps VIP program at Volunteer San Diego because I believe in people coming together as a community to address their challenges, and I want to be a part of that by facilitating volunteerism in these challenging times.”

-Michael Kolbas

“I've been volunteering for almost 10 years and was looking for a way to inspire others to also volunteer. The AmeriCorps VIP program allows me to establish volunteer programs at nonprofit organizations in San Diego. Through these programs I, and future volunteer coordinators, will be able to reach out to hundreds of new volunteers and share our passions with them.”

-Nicole Ritchie

“Life is all about opportunities! In my life I've had many opportunities that were made available through volunteer and nonprofit agencies such as the Boys and Girls Club of America, Phoenix Valley Christian Center, Summer Youth Sports Programs and many others. Now, at this point in my life, I have a chance to give back. The AmeriCorps Volunteer Infrastructure Program offers me the opportunity to make a lasting meaningful impact on the service community.”

-Eddie Trotter

“I just relocated to San Diego from Greensboro, NC for the AmeriCorps VIP position. I'm really enthusiastic about community service, and I joined AmeriCorps to share my passion with the community.”

-Amanda Mitchell

“I recently graduated summa cum laude from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in Psychology and Neuroscience. I am proud to be working with Casa de Amparo and Episcopal Community Services, which are two extremely valuable nonprofit organizations in San Diego County.”

-Jessica Hittelman

“I joined the AmeriCorps because I wanted to give back to the community.”

-Harmandeep Hira

"I love volunteering because of the relationships I get to develop with people.
With AmeriCorps, I am a Refugee Resettlement Volunteer Coordinator for Jewish Family Service, a nonprofit organization in San Diego responsible for resettling over 200 refugees per year, which primarily consist of Iraqi and Burmese individuals. I look forward to spring-boarding a ripple effect from my new position and contributing to the greater cause of helping one another."

-Thomas Stein

I joined AmeriCorps after graduating from UCLA. A year of service with AmeriCorps allows me to give back to the community. Working with Rolling Readers and Junior Achievement is a great way to help youth see the value in education and to give them the tools they need to succeed.

-Arthur Tovar

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Fire Recovery Volunteers

The fires that swept through San Diego County were truly devastating. However, there are some brave individuals willing to toil to ensure the safety of housing communities in this dry hot region of the country. Last week, I saw this rejuvenating blend of strength and altruism send a cooling and reassuring breeze across some of the barren landscape that was left in the wake of the fire. Seth Connolly, the Fire Recovery Coordinator for Volunteer San Diego, teamed up with volunteers from CareFusion, a medical-technology company. The fire had ravaged a building but the foundation of that site remained ready for future growth. A couple who had rented in Ramona their whole lives finally had a chance at their dream of owning a house because Habitat for Humanity was going to rebuild on the site and give them a home. The volunteers worked laboriously to clear brush and flammable debris in the hopes that this worthy couple could finally achieve this vision. The volunteers had experience in this type of assistance, as many had served in regions damaged by hurricanes and other natural disasters. The few hours we spent with weed whackers and clippers brought relief for many people.

Adrianne Burleigh, Citizen Action AmeriCorps Volunteer Outreach Coordinator
Volunteer San Diego

Again, be sure to take a look at the newest video podcast which features footage from CareFusion's recent "Day of Caring" volunteer event.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Professional Volunteering for VSD

Volunteer San Diego is searching for volunteers that want to utilize or sharpen professional skills. Our Board of Directors is searching for several volunteers in a wide variety of professions to serve on our various committees. We are in immediate need of the following volunteers:

· Certified Public Accountant (Non-Profit specialization preferred)
· Tax Accountant
· Lawyer or Paralegal with experience in articles of incorporation
· Sales Specialists and Sales Executives
· Fundraising Specialists
· Public Relations Strategist
· Web Technologist/Internet Social Media Strategist
· Graphic Designer

The time commitment is variable, but it typically ranges from four to six hours per month. If you are interested in any of our open committee positions, please contact Brent Shintani (

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Can't Miss Podcasts

The VSD podcast has a couple new episodes that you can't miss.

Check out episode number 77 for information about VSD's social media strategy, including how VSD became a San Diego Twitter powerhouse with 3000 followers. Those of you with an interest in developing your own non-profit internet presence can also benefit from some helpful tips and resources from an interview with Corey Pudhorosky from the 501c3Cast and Chad Norman from the Baudcast.

Be sure to take a look at the newest video podcast which features footage from CareFusion's recent "Day of Caring" volunteer event. Hopefully you'll be inspired to get your company on the corporate volunteerism bandwagon when you see how much VSD and CareFusion were able to accomplish for our community. More information about corporate volunteer opportunities is available here.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

New Facebook Page

We are pleased to announce the launch of the official Volunteer San Diego Facebook page. Click here to access the page and become a fan of our site. Our blogs, podcasts, and other special announcements will be automatically posted to this page.

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