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Volunteer San Diego has Closed

October 6, 2011

After careful deliberation and weighing all the alternatives, Volunteer San Diego (VSD) has elected to close its doors. Despite an all-out effort by staff, volunteers, and the Board of Directors, VSD has not been able to secure sufficient funding to sustain its operations in this economy.

We take pride in the impact VSD has made in San Diego County, but we did not do it alone.

We thank the public for demonstrating year after year how important volunteering is to our community. We thank our partner organizations for providing excellent service opportunities across a broad range of interests and skills. We thank our corporate sponsors not only for believing in and supporting us, but also for understanding that there is a cost to volunteering. And we extend special thanks to our individual donors, those who gave of their time and talent, as well as their dollars.

We hope you will continue to seek volunteer opportunities at the many nonprofits, schools, libraries, faith-based and other community organizations throughout the county.

Thank you for the memories!

– The Volunteer San Diego Staff and Board of Directors

Are You Ready?

September 15, 2011

Last week’s power outage taught many of us that we weren’t as prepared for an emergency as we had thought we were.

 Did you have the gas and the cash, the medicines and the pet food, the flashlights and the batteries, the drinking water and the dry food you needed to pull through?  Which of your your phones worked?  Did you go into “p.c. withdrawal?”  How did you discover and keep up with the news?  Where had you stored your important contacts?

 Now take a minute to imagine this:  what if that outage had lasted a week?

That’s what we could expect following a major earthquake in Southern California. 

With little loss or harm, we can draw invaluable lessons from last week’s experience in what is, ironically, Disaster Preparedness Month. 

Don’t wait.  Get ready now!  

Visit our partners at: www.readysandiego.org or http://www.sdarc.org.  Make a plan, build a kit, and learn about the risks throughout our region.

Add this site to your “favorites” or “bookmarks”: http://calfiresandiego.blogspot.com where you’ll find a wealth of news and practical tips on living more safely in wildfire country. 

 HOW CAN YOU VOLUNTEER IN A DISASTER?

Each week and up to “The Great California Shake-Out” on October 20, we’ll run tips on on volunteering in a disaster—what to do, what not to do in support of our responding agencies, on our Facebook page.

Heroes start at home. 

Be one. 

Prepare family, friends, and co-workers now for a major disaster striking San Diego County.

Feeding Our Souls

September 7, 2011

Like many of us, I find it difficult to always find time to volunteer. My “to do” list never seems to get any shorter and the idea of adding one more activity sometimes makes me want to bury my head in the sand and never come out. But, what I love about Volunteer San Diego is that you can volunteer in small, manageable doses. Case in point: Last week I decided to sign up for Serving Seniors and go on my lunch break at work. I usually eat lunch at my desk anyway so this seemed like a good opportunity to not only get out of the office, but also squeeze some volunteer time into my day.

The morning of my volunteer day I work up on the wrong side of the bed. I was in the worst mood and just wanted to sneak under my covers and go back to sleep. Unfortunately that was not really an option so I got up and went to work as usual. There were definitely a couple of times that morning where I contemplated not going to Serving Seniors, I just couldn’t imagine putting on a happy face for a whole hour and, in hindsight, I was too busy wallowing in my own self-pity. But, I pushed my own selfishness aside and went over to the 4th Avenue Senior Wellness Center around 1:00 pm that afternoon. As soon as I entered the doors my whole energy shifted.  Everyone from the front desk attendant to the kitchen staff was so pleasant to me that I couldn’t help but get in a better mood. I had a couple of minutes to spare before we started serving lunch so I took this opportunity to mingle with some of the staff that regularly works/volunteers at Serving Seniors. Everyone I spoke to had such an amazing attitude and, for many of them, this was not their only volunteer job. It was cool to see them all interact with the “regulars” that came for meals and it became apparent that some amazing relationships had been fostered through this program.

At 1:15 pm sharp the kitchen staff started loading up the trays as I slipped on my gloves and apron and started serving. The whole experience lasted only an hour but it completely changed my whole outlook on the day. Iit was at that point that I realized feeding these seniors had inadvertently fed my soul. Don’t get me wrong, while I don’t think that individuals should volunteer only to make themselves feel better, it is a pretty nice side effect.

I received numerous “thank you”s that day from the seniors as I set down trays of food at their tables, but I think that I really owe them the biggest “thank you” of all. Thank you for allowing me to act selflessly for one hour that day, thank you for giving me perspective, and thank you for lighting up my day with your smiles and sincere gratitude!

To learn more about Serving Seniors visit www.volunteersandiego.org and type “serving seniors” and your zip code in the Keyword Search.

– Ciera Davis, Social Media Assistant

Sharing the Volunteer Experience

August 29, 2011

As a Social Media Assistant for Volunteer San Diego I am constantly trying to think of the best way to get the word out on volunteering. Sometimes I try so hard to think of something witty and clever that I tend to simply over-think the task. This precise realization occurred to me Tuesday when I got an email from my friend and fellow Social Media Assistant, Scott.
Scott sent a short email to a small group of people explaining that he was volunteering at the San Diego Food Bank that Thursday, there were eight volunteer spots left, and that he encouraged us to join him if we could. He also included a hyperlink that would take us directly to the event registration on the Volunteer San Diego website.

After reading his email I checked my calendar and realized my Thursday evening was free so I clicked the link and signed up. A couple of days later I was at the San Diego Food Bank for the first time working alongside Scott and an outstanding group of volunteers. That night we packed over 1,000 boxes of food that would soon be delivered to those in need. It was only two hours of work, but I had a really wonderful time, and all it took to get me there was Scott’s email.

There is genius in simplicity, and the genius behind Scott’s email really stuck with me. What he did is something we all can do: Share with our friends. Share your volunteer event the same way you would recommend a great restaurant or movie. The next time you sign up for an event I encourage you to share it with your friends by tweeting the link or posting it on your Facebook wall. You can add a short blurb with the link, something like: “Hi friends, I’m volunteering at the Humane Society. If you’re interested, come and join me!” Or, like Scott, you can simply email your friends a link to the event registration. While not everyone will be able to join you, surely they will recognize and appreciate your willingness to share that opportunity with them and just might even join you the next time around.

So please, share your time and your experiences! Have a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend, everyone.

-James Lee, Social Media Assistant

8 billion hours served and why it’s important to me

August 22, 2011
Several days ago, I came across a recent Reuters article with the headline “Americans Spent 8 Billion Hours Volunteering in 2010.” Needless to say, I couldn’t have clicked the link faster. Early into the story, I was saddened to read that the overall national rate for volunteerism declined by half a percent compared to last year. Fortunately, though, the overall number of hours of volunteering did not decrease. The article goes on to inform the reader of the top major cities whose population devotes the most time to volunteering (Minneapolis-St. Paul was #1), as well as the top states (Utah took the crown). The pride I have for America’s Finest City instantly kicked in. “I wonder where San Diego ranks among the field? And how about California?” I have yet to dig up those stats, but I’m hopeful we have done our fair share and, of course, that Volunteer San Diego will continue to play a contributing role to that sentiment. What struck me most about this piece came next. The article stated:

Partly thanks to social networking, teen volunteer rates have been significantly higher between 2002 and 2010 than they were in 1989, according to the report called “Volunteering in America.”

It attributed high teen volunteer rates to greater emphasis on service-learning in high schools, the influence of parents who volunteer and the ease of finding volunteer opportunities with the Internet.

“Technology in the broad sense of social networking has been an asset to volunteerism. I think young people are much more attuned to volunteering at an earlier age than some of us were,” Velasco said in an interview.

“They have much more social engagement and networks, and, as a result, they are just much more engaged.”

Smiling wide, I found myself feeling an overwhelming amount of joy and satisfaction.

My latest role within Volunteer San Diego has been to dive in head-first with my two peers, Ciera and James, in developing its social media presence. In its broadest scope, being a social media assistant for Volunteer San Diego means making sure the people of my community have the highest possible exposure to the various ways in which they can assist and aide those around them. Despite this clearly defined role, it is not so easy to always quantify our impact (not just yet, at least).

You see, while a very noble cause, sometimes contributing your time to the spreading of volunteerism awareness itself may not give you the same fulfilling sense of accomplishment that comes with serving meals to the less fortunate or helping children with their homework. Working almost exclusively behind the scenes and among countless keystrokes, generally this type of volunteerism can carry an inherent disconnect from the more hands-on participation that surrounds you with big smiles and even bigger hearts.

And that is where something like this article comes into play. Even with rather few words, it emphatically reassures me that technology, specifically social networking via the Internet, is playing an integral role in modern day volunteerism. More so, it excites me to know we still have an enormous amount of ground to cover and our virtual presence will continue to grow and promote the ideals of giving back to one’s community for the bettering of us all.

Ultimately, it lights me up knowing that everyone can — and does — make a difference with every little bit they give (and sometimes they don’t even know it!). While it may not seem like much to some, to me it is a reminder that any time spent volunteering is absolutely time well spent.

– Scott Schulte, Social Media Assistant

Author’s note: The Reuter’s article referenced throughout this post can be read here: America Spent 8 Billion Hours Volunteering in 2010.

In remembrance of 9/11

August 19, 2011

The Day the World Stood Still…

September 11, 2001, stirs sorrowful memories for those who watched the events unfold.

The attack on the World Trade Center stunned the world and shut down our skies.

How one remembers the day is highly personal; but the families of the fallen have asked us to serve.

How one honors the warriors lost overseas, is also personal; but their families have asked us to serve.

On this tenth anniversary of the attack, Volunteer San Diego invites you to join a growing and national movement to make 9/11 a day of service.

That week, sponsor a service project at your place of business.  Or search our webpages for volunteer opportunities which lie within your own range of interests and abilities.  Or commit one, simple death-defying act of kindness you’ve long wanted to carry out but have put off day after day—be it helping a dependent senior enjoy an afternoon of freedom or donating blood so that others might live.

Or visit a new kind of town hall: http://www.mygooddeed.org/ Share the tribute you intend to offer the week of September 11 and…

Join a national force for the good.

–From all the staff, paid and volunteer, at Volunteer San Diego

The Time For Change is Now

August 15, 2011

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

I came across this quote a couple of weeks ago and immediately posted it to the Volunteer San Diego Facebook. The message is one that transcends generations but it seemed particularly fitting given the current global economic climate.  Whether you understand terms like “debt ceiling” or not, most of us know that we are living in uncertain times right now and it can be just plain scary. We are all feeling the pinch in our wallets these days and it seems like the money we have just doesn’t take us as far as it used to. I believe that in times like these, volunteering and volunteerism become even more important and relevant. If we as a society can go back to the days of helping our neighbors (i.e. volunteering) then we will be able to pull ourselves out of this financial mess.

And I know what you are thinking. “So you’re saying that the answer to the world’s financial problems is to volunteer?”

Well, not entirely, but I think it’s a start. I think it is imperative that we remember how to help each other without always expecting something monetary in return.

We have all heard the phrase “be the change that you want to see in the world” and now is the time to do just that. Lately, I have found myself waking up every morning and turning on the news to see if there have been any changes while I get ready for work. A couple of days ago I was going through this exact routine when I realized that I was expecting change in the world without making any changes myself. So, I have decided to lead by example by committing to making time to volunteer and I ask that you contemplate doing the same. After all, it’s easy! Just take a look at the calendar on the Volunteer San Diego website, pick a day/time/volunteer event that works for you and then just show up. Those small steps will end up making a bigger impact than you could ever imagine.

We are saving the world, one act of volunteerism at a time.

-Ciera Davis, Social Media Assistant