Despite a surge of passionate leaders, the social sector continues to struggle with getting volunteer engagement just right while creating sustainable infrastructure for effective volunteer engagement. That’s where the Service Enterprise Initiative comes in. A national change-management approach, the Service Enterprise Initiative helps organizations gain a greater return on volunteer investment to meet their missions by tackling tough questions like: How do we address myths or misconceptions about volunteers among our staff? How can we get more resources for volunteering and make our program more sustainable? How can we work with volunteers to do more with less?
This year’s Northern California wildfires burned more than 600,000 acres – the largest wildfire in California history. The fires were devastating, resulting in the destruction of numerous structures, the displacement of thousands of residents, and several fatalities. While first responders met the wildfires head-on, volunteers also played an important role, providing comfort and counsel for those at risk of losing everything. CSAA Insurance Group’s award-winning corporate volunteer program, AAA Volunteers, empowers and motivates employees to address diverse community needs through volunteer service. In response to the wildfires, employees volunteered to take time from their normal job duties and daily routines to contact impacted customers.
Lucretia Doyle is living proof that society’s expectations of you should never dictate what you choose to become. The daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother, Lucretia overcame the obstacles she faced at a young age and became passionate about empowering youth with the knowledge that they are capable of doing extraordinary things despite their backgrounds. She currently serves as senior program manager for recognition at Points of Light, overseeing the administration of the Presidential Volunteer Service Awards, a national volunteer recognition program that encourages citizens to live a life of service. Lucretia’s passion for youth empowerment led her to create the Patricia A. Doyle Foundation, in memory of her mother, to provide book scholarships and care packages to students who have a current or formally incarcerated parent.
Joann and Don Tolmie first visited Tanzania in 1999 as guests of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. They soon realized there was a vast educational inequality for children with disabilities – who are often believed to be a bad omen or a hardship, and for whom educational opportunities are few. After discovering the need for disabled children to have a proper place to learn and grow, the husband and wife duo teamed up with the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania to create the Faraja Primary School. There’s no denying that this first trip ignited a spark in their hearts that was so big, it would grow to help create a culture shift in understanding disability.
When natural disasters strike, it can be overwhelming to think about how you can make a difference. For many people, there is a natural desire to do something substantial to help communities in need, but even the most ambitious recovery efforts and good intentions can go wrong in delicate environments. Some families, or even entire communities. lose everything after being hit by a devastating hurricane, super storm, flood, wildfire, landslide or tornado; and we witness the stark reality of the word “disaster “come to life. Instead of donating goods, experts and officials suggest that monetary donations have the greatest potential to address the specific needs of each person impacted by a disaster.
Gitanjali Rao, a current seventh grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Denver, Colorado, was appalled after learning about the Flint Water Crisis, where dangerous levels of lead in the water affected thousands across Michigan. Upon researching more about the aftermath of the crisis and learning that it still remains a major issue in our nation, she set out to create a nanotube sensor device to equip every household to test their water.
When Kathy Hecht’s father unexpectedly became legally blind, she and her family began to brainstorm creative sources of joy to help him cope with having more empty hours in the day. Kathy, who had rescued and trained dogs with her father while growing up, found the answer quickly: a retired Australian shepherd show dog named Eddie, who was no ordinary companion. She believes that a connection with animals can be a powerful healing tool for anyone, and she has proved this through Salute of Service, a nonprofit that seeks to help veterans train their own service dogs at no charge.
New York Cares is giving life to the concept of the American Dream. These words are not new; they symbolize a dream where hope and opportunity come together in a whimsical, yet transformational way. But this goal, often the driving force behind the paths we take in life, sometimes doesn’t feel attainable. That is where New York Cares steps in, especially when it comes to education.
Generations of skilled tradespeople built the Motor City, put the world on wheels, and created the American middle class. In recent decades though, interest in skilled trades careers has diminished among youth and young adults nationwide along with vocational education options. More than half of Detroit’s youth and adults are unemployed and outside the workforce while redevelopment projects are hindered by a shortage of skilled trades workers. At DTE, our focus is on helping revive Detroit’s trade schools, placing high school students in paid summer work experiences and launching a skilled trades program at Henry Ford College in nearby Dearborn.
Terra Gay has dedicated the past 22 years to working directly with youth as an educator, certified leadership development trainer, and a community and youth advocate. She currently serves as senior vice president of programs at Points of Light, representing our education and youth development initiatives, as well as military, veteran and disaster preparedness programming. Terra’s passion for positively impacting youth inspired the launch of Be the Change Atlanta, an intergenerational collaboration of students, professionals, community activists and youth advocates – unifying community changemakers around a common goal of empowering youth.