In this issue:
What are you doing on Saturday, October 27th? Join us for VolunteerFest®, a regional day of community service held annually as part of National Make a Difference Day. Each year, Volunteer Fairfax mobilizes hundreds of volunteers to help nonprofits accomplish transformative projects they would not have the time or resources to do on their own. Sign up today to participate with your neighbors and community. This year, projects include building a community garden for a senior center, shelving books at local libraries, preparing meals at a shelter, and removing invasive species at local parks. Last year almost 1,400 community and corporate volunteers donated their time to participate in the 17th Annual VolunteerFest®. “VolunteerFest® is a great introduction to volunteering”, says Emily Davis, Director of Development with Volunteer Fairfax. “It’s a way to a find a new hobby or to improve a skill. We will have project opportunities for all ages, all abilities, and all interests.”
This year Volunteer Fairfax added a new twist to VolunteerFest®, partnering with GoodMaker to challenge nonprofits to dream big about what could be done with 50 volunteer, a $500 supply grant, and $1,500 in tools. Congratulations to the winner of this challenge - Aurora House in Falls Church! With the grant and supplies, Aurora House plans to build a kitchen garden, outdoor reflection space, and flower boxes to encourage positive self-care habits for their residents; young women who are unable to live at home due to instability and troubling family issues. Sign up for this project!
You can register for these projects and many more here.
What did you do with your summer vacation? This year, Sara Schlageter spent her summer helping out in the Volunteer Fairfax development office. Over the past two months she has volunteered over 100 hours, offering invaluable help on projects such as updating donors lists, supporting events like VolunTrivia, and compiling survey results. Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Sara is looking to transition from her previous career as a kindergarten teacher into the nonprofit field. Growing up, her parents encouraged her to volunteer with church groups, the United Way, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Sara recently decided to make the career switch from education to nonprofits, and volunteering seemed a logical step to gain some experience, get a feel for nonprofit work, and to become acquainted with how nonprofits operate behind the scenes. When asked what she has liked most about volunteering, Sara’s response was “The people! Volunteering is a way to meet new people, to get involved, and everyone has been very welcoming and accepting.” This summer, Sara has become a part of the Volunteer Fairfax team – pitching in when needed, joining staff at lunch, and checking in regularly to see how she can best help. Sara’s advice to others who are thinking about volunteering is to “do something you like – that way, it won’t feel like an obligation, but it will be something you want to do.” Thank you Sara! If you are interested in volunteering, check out current opportunities here.
This June saw the inaugural Ready, Reston! event. As part of a larger effort to help Fairfax County residents plan for personal and regional emergencies, Ready, Reston! combined a carnival atmosphere with important information to help community members prepare themselves, their homes, and their businesses for emergencies, large and small. Complete with live music and children’s entertainment, the event drew 500 attendees to learn about preparedness, meet local responders, and explore emergency vehicles. Ready, Reston! was especially important to Volunteer Fairfax as in the event of an emergency, the center can be activated to coordinate the deployment of spontaneous disaster volunteers, this event allowed us to connect with the community and increase our list of individuals, businesses and groups that would be willing to be contacted for just such occasions. In fact, just a few days after Ready, Reston! we were asked to support monitoring and response during the Derecho response. Volunteer Fairfax staff spent the following three days working alongside Fairfax County emergency managers. Our staff was tasked with checking on the well-being of Fairfax County residents listed on the Special Needs Registry, coordinating the request and utilization of non-county donated resources, and providing analysis on the status of safety net organizations affected by the storm.
Over the summer, Volunteer Fairfax managed thirty nonprofit internships through the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program (CSJP). These paid summer interns, awarded through a granting process, allow nonprofits to explore new funding streams, expand programs, and support additional clients. The other benefits of the CSJP is that it connects eager undergraduates, thirsty for knowledge about how they can apply their education to a meaningful career in the nonprofit sector, to opportunities in which they can make tangible impact in our community. The missions of the thirty agencies which participated ranged from helping the underserved to enriching the lives of the elderly. The internships themselves were also diverse; some students helped organize fundraising events, others created marketing and outreach materials, and some even worked directly with clients as case managers. Said one participating nonprofit; “Our intern took our annual event to a new level – success that otherwise would not have been achieved with our limited staff and resources”.
Did you know Benjamin Franklin served as America's First volunteer Fire Chief? Or that Utah has the highest percentage of adults who volunteer? Volunteering is a smart proposition, the more you give the better the community becomes. In July, we decided to tap into all those smart individuals who also are making our community a better place through volunteerism through our first VolunTrivia fundraiser. Teams of up to 6 competed for the top prize of $200 and tried to win lots and lots of awesome raffle prizes (like the air bazooka pictured). The competition was fierce! Topics included – history, music, pop culture - there was even a special volunteer trivia round. Special thanks to Rock Bottom Ballston for being such a great host, to our amazing trivia master from JayRay Trivia and to Think Geek for offering such unique raffle prizes. We hope everyone who attended enjoyed the event and will join us again soon for our next VolunTrivia!
We have some exciting events coming up – so make sure you save the date!
BoardLink Northern Virginia Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:00 - 9:30 AM and Thursday, November 8, 8:30 - 10:00 AM
VolunteerFest® October 27, 2012
Volunteers for Change Orientation September 26, October 10, October 24, October 28
Multicultural Fair September 22
Volunteer Management Bootcamp November 14
VolRUNTeer 5K December 1 - Register now! Early bird specials until October 29th!
Check out the events page for more details!
Do you know students on the hunt for volunteer opportunities to fulfill a school requirement? Does it sometime feel like the demand far outweighs the supply of high quality service experiences? Volunteer Fairfax is working hard to ensure that each student interested in service has access to a meaningful opportunity in the community. Here are 3 easy ways youth can begin volunteering:
1. Youth Service Opportunities Directory:
Each year Volunteer Fairfax distributes the Youth Service Opportunities Directory to local schools and libraries in order to provide an easy and accessible resource for students. Click here to download the Directory.
2. Fairfax County Teen Volunteer Fairs:
Occurring throughout September and October, Teen Volunteer Fairs allow students to meet local nonprofit representatives in person. Middle and High School students can learn more about the nonprofits in their area and make the step into volunteering. Teen Volunteer Fairs are being held at Sherwood, Richard Byrd, and Chantilly libraries this year. If you can’t make it, you can always access our VolunteerNow!, online database to find hundreds of volunteer opportunities.
Sherwood Regional Library: Wednesday, September 26, 6:30 to 8pm
2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria, VA
Questions? Call: 703-765-3645
Richard Byrd Library: Thursday, October 4, 6:30 to 8pm
7250 Commerce St., Springfield, VA
Questions? Call: 703-451-8055
Chantilly Regional Library: Thursday, October 18, 6:30 to 8pm
4000 Stringfellow Road, Chantilly, VA
Questions? Call: 703-502-3883
3. Volunteer Fairfax's Youth Advisory Board:
Do you know of a student who exhibits strong leadership abilities and a dedication to giving back to the community? We’re currently accepting applications for the Youth Advisory Board (YAB). The YAB meets monthly throughout the school year to help plan and execute Volunteer Fairfax’s Global Youth Service Day event. Members of the YAB learn skills from event planning to project management to team leadership. This opportunity is open to those currently in grades 10-12. The application deadline has been extended until Wednesday, September 26.
If you have any questions about Volunteer Fairfax's opportunities for youth, please contact Kelsey Haynes, (703) 246-3825.
When I was a kid, my parents would take my sisters and I volunteering. While not overly enthusiastic about it at the time, looking back these are some of my best family memories. I remember countless holidays spent delivering baskets of food, picking up trash at parks, attending social events at local nursing homes, and shelving books at the library. This blog post explains very well the benefits that come from volunteering as a family, but for me, the greatest benefit were the lessons I learned about kindness, empathy, respect, friendliness and tolerance. These lessons impacted my choice of major in college, helped me think more broadly about career options, and informed my leisure time activities as an adult. A great way to get started volunteering with your family is to sign up for Volunteerfest®. Click here for a list of projects and start volunteering today!
The above reflection was submitted by Jessica Hubbard, Communications Manager for Volunteer Fairfax.