Monday, June 25, 2018

65 Ways Kids Can Make a Difference This Summer!

1. Seniors love your artwork! Brighten walls – and smiles – at the local senior center.
2. Got a favorite game? Teach it to younger kids.
3. Win brownie points! Organize canned goods at home and take extras to a food pantry.
4. Got talent? Share it!
5. Your old backpack needs a new friend…donate it!
6. Gather up outgrown, gently worn shoes and clothes for your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, church or synagogue.
7. Party leftovers? Local soup kitchen guests are going love them!
8. Neglected stuffies in your room? Little kids at shelters are aching to cuddle them.
9. Like a challenge? Your game board skills are in demand at the senior center.
10. Friend forgot their snack? Share yours!
11. Read aloud to little kids at the library – they’ll love you!
12. Dust off your old - but still good - books and give them to others.

1. It’s your birthday! Give a gift to someone in need.
2. Share your lemonade stand $$$ with your favorite worthy cause!
3. How about a toy drive for kids stuck in the hospital?
4. Get a haircut! And give your ponytail to Locks of Love.
5. Got old sports equipment? Bring it to your local Parks & Rec!
6. Calling all chefs! Bake cakes and donate the proceeds.
7. Feed your furry friends at the animal shelter…drop off a bag of food!
8. Time is precious…share a bit of yours to help others.
9. Kind words lift spirits…give a compliment and lift yours too.

1. Compost your fruit and veggie scraps…and watch your garden BLOOM!
2. Help save a gazillion disposable water bottles…reusable bottles rule!
3. Save a tree! Use both sides of your notebook paper.
4. Reuse, recycle. Reuse, recycle. Reuse, recycle. Got it?!
5. Keep the earth cool…walk, bike or use public transportation.
6. Got energy? Pick up trash! Remember: wear gloves & work with an adult.
7. Your town doesn’t recycle? Yikes! Create a program now!
8. Nourish your neighborhood green spaces…grow a community garden.
9. Like clean air? Grab your friends and plant trees.
10. Drat, those petroleum-based plastic bags! Use fabric bags instead - for everything!
11. Call your town councilman for more neighborhood trash cans and recycling bins.
12. Want to save energy while leaping tall buildings in a single bound? Turn off the boob tube and play outside.
13. Love surprises? Plant fall bulbs and flower seeds…and keep a weather eye for spring blossoms!
14. “Turn off the lights!” Make switch plate reminders for your whole house.
15. Save water and tons of $$$ - turn off the water when you brush teeth!
16. Keep sturdy takeout containers for future leftovers.
17. Transform colorful magazine pages, comics and more into artful projects and gift wrappers!
18. Learn how to donate/recycle old computer stuff & post instructions (with permission!) at your local electronics stores.
19. Breathe in nature…turn off the AC and open a window to the world.

1. Whip up your favorite yummy snack and present it to a soup kitchen!
2. Love history? Visit folks at the senior center and ask about the amazing things they’ve witnessed.
3. Want to change the world? Practice random acts of kindness.
4. Keep your brain sharp and body strong. Ask for healthy lunch options.
5. Say “thank you!” - it’s music to your parent's ears.
6. Seeking positive change? Ask your local government officials for help.
7. Lead by your good example.
8. New kid in the neighborhood? Play with them!
9. Volunteering? Invite your nearest and dearest along.
10. Have an older neighbor? Mow their lawn!
11. Need a cat or dog to snuggle? Visit the animal shelter.
12.  Help end poverty. Check out the UN Millennium Development Goals online.
13. Make soldiers smile…send letters & goodies!
14. There’s nothing like a warm hug…share one today.
15. Show gratitude and write thank you notes!
16. Get fit and have fun…start a neighborhood exercise group.
17. Eating healthy? Partner up to share knowledge, tips, and encouragement.
18. Share a home cooked meal – and cheerful chat – with a homebound person.
19. Got a big idea? Launch it with a community event!
20. Friend on a mission? Help them!
21. Tummy grumbling at the grocery store? Buy a canned good for the food pantry box.
22. See somebody struggling with heavy bags or boxes? Lend a hand.
23. Active voters make our country great. Ensure adults in your life are registered!
24. Adorable pets await loving homes! Where? The animal shelter… tell your friends and family!
25. Brighten the world…smile often!

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current volunteer opportunities available with over 165 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email opportunities may also be accessed at

Monday, June 18, 2018

Summer – A Great Time to Volunteer in the Cedar Valley

Summer brings to mind sunny days, baseball, picnics, and vacations. Why not consider engaging in your community during the summer months through volunteerism? Think about connecting with a local non-profit agency and giving of yourself. Here are some ways to define how you might go about perfecting the ideal volunteer opportunity:

Think about your interests. Consider looking for a group focused on issues you feel strongly about. This is a good place to begin your volunteer experience. If you’re not connected with such an organization, contact the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley for assistance in making a match. There is no end to the creative avenues for volunteering, just as there is no end to the need for volunteers.

Consider your skills. If you enjoy being outside, spending time with children, or enjoy interacting with people you may want to look for volunteer work that incorporates these characteristics of your personality. Many positions require a volunteer who has previous experience with certain equipment or possesses specific skills, such as an ability in athletics or communications. For one of those positions, you may wish to do something similar to what you do on the job during your workday or something that you already enjoy as a hobby. This sort of volunteer opportunity allows you to get involved immediately without having to train for the opportunity.

Try something new.  Perhaps you would like to learn a new skill or gain experience in a new situation. Consider a volunteer opportunity where you'll learn something new. Volunteering to work on the newsletter for the local nonprofit will improve your writing and editing abilities-skills that may help you in your career. Or volunteering can simply offer a change from your daily routine. For example, if your full-time job is in an office, you may decide to take on a more active volunteer assignment such as gardening or building a playground. Many nonprofits look for people who are willing to learn and embrace new activities.

Combine goals. Perhaps your personal goal is to lose weight. Consider volunteering in a setting where you will be physically active. If you’re interested in learning about plants, consider volunteering for a local arboretum.

Don't over-commit. Make sure the volunteer hours you want to give fit into your life. You don’t want to exhaust yourself, frustrate your family, shortchange the organization you're trying to help or neglect your job. Do you want a long-term assignment or a one-time opportunity? If you are unsure about your availability or want to see how the work suits you, find out if the organization will allow you to start volunteering on a limited basis until you get the feel of things.

Volunteer virtually. Virtual volunteering can also be a way for you to give time if you simply enjoy computers and want to employ your computer skills in your volunteer work.
Non-profits have specific needs. Many non-profits have specific qualifications that may need to be met. The volunteer opportunity may require a driver’s license, use of your personal vehicle, insurance, specific training, a background check, or previous experience.

Volunteer as a Family. Think about looking for a volunteer opportunity appropriate for parents and children to do together, or for a husband and wife to take on as a team. When a family volunteers together the experience can build relationships and teach children the value of volunteering their time.

Volunteer as a Business. Think about looking for a volunteer opportunity appropriate for your business to take on as a group. Employee volunteers build a sense of camaraderie and cooperation. It can also facilitate employee teamwork. The best service opportunities are collaborative – working side-by-side with others in the community. Humanitarian service opportunities should assist the poor and those in need of a helping hand. Community service opportunities should enhance the quality of life in the community. Projects should not directly involve volunteers in fundraising, have a political focus, or be for-profit oriented.

Think outside the box. Volunteering takes many forms. People often think of hospitals, schools, or churches. Keep an open mind. Consider day care centers, public schools, halfway houses, community theaters, drug rehabilitation centers, retirement centers, homes for the elderly, meals on wheels, soup kitchens or food pantries, museums, art galleries, youth organizations, sports teams, after-school programs, shelters for battered women and children, historical societies, and parks.

Volunteer! Bring your sense of humor and your willingness to help to your volunteer service. Volunteering is in itself an invaluable gift but what you get back will be immeasurable!

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current volunteer opportunities available with over 165 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email opportunities may also be accessed at

Monday, June 11, 2018

Summer Service Ideas

Summer months bring long days, warm weather, school vacations - and great opportunities for kids to volunteer and families, camps, and youth groups to serve together. Here are some suggestions for a successful service experience:
1.       Start with things your kids love to do.
2.       Consider issues your kids care about. 
3.       Combine passions + issues for the biggest impact. 
4.       Encourage, support, and help your kids learn.

Ideas for summer involvement:

·       The Longest Day is all about love. Love for all those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. On the summer solstice, team up with the Alzheimer’s Association and select an activity you love — or an activity loved by those affected — to help end Alzheimer’s. Together, we will raise funds and awareness for care and support while advancing research toward the first survivor of Alzheimer’s.

       Hunger hits especially hard when kids are out of school for the summer. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. This summer, USDA plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites. Promoting summer feeding sites in your community is one of the most important things you can do to ensure no child goes hungry this summer. You can find summer feeding sites and tools to help raise awareness as well as information about how to become a summer feeding site at the USDA’s website. Families in need can text ‘Food’ to 877-877, and receive a text back with the address and program information for sites closest to them, or information about how to find food resources in their area. Additional resources are available from No Kid Hungry and ideas for how youth can help from Generation No Kid Hungry.

·       Do something different this summer. Habitat for Humanity’s weeklong break trip program, Collegiate Challenge, isn’t just for spring break. This summer, bond with your new campus chapter leadership, take a church on a mission trip, or grab four friends to go serve and discover a different part of the country.

·       Our country is full of dazzling landscapes where students can play and learn—and there’s an opportunity for us to make this experience a reality for more and more of our youth. Every Kid in a Park gives fourth graders and their families a free one-year pass to any of our nation’s public lands and waters. Plan your trip at As you plan your trip, find out how you can volunteer in a national park.

·       This Summer, thank a Veteran and pledge the gift of time. The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking citizens across the country to join in serving our nation’s Veterans. Volunteers can find out the needs of your local VA facility by visiting

·       Help build awareness about the importance of teaching children to swim to help prevent drowning.  On June 22, waterparks, pools and other aquatic facilities around the globe will host local WLSL lessons in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record. Swimming is a life-saving skill for children and a vital tool to prevent drowning, the second leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for children ages 1-14.

·       Help protect wildlife by pledging to camp this summer! National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout is a summer-long celebration of camping as a way to connect with nature and wildlife. Take the pledge to camp — in your backyard, your neighborhood, your local parks, state parks, and national parks, cabins, RVs, treehouses… you name it! National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout is also part of Great Outdoors Month in June.

·       Become a force for good while earning college credit this summer. The Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA) is a college-prep program for high school juniors and seniors who are serious about spearheading positive social change. Participants (known as “Project Managers”) select the cause they want to impact, develop their project management and leadership skills, and then create their unique plan for change to put into action when they return home. Join the ALA July 6–11 at Loyola University Chicago. Learn more, sign up for one of HOBY’s webinars, and register here. Application Deadline: June 15.

·       National Summer Learning Day is a national advocacy day aimed at elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the year. Your participation sends a powerful message across the nation that summers matter and offers an opportunity to showcase how summers can make a life-changing difference in the lives of young people.

·       Use the Read & Act: Kids Making a Difference collection of inspiring children’s books from FirstBook paired with free downloadable discussion guides from YSA to help youth ages 6-12, understand how they can use their unique talents, interests and passions to spark action in their own communities.

·       Make sure that your family and community are equipped to protect its littlest and most vulnerable citizens. Raise your voice, use your skills and together, we can help turn the tide and build a generation of prepared citizens. Lead Get Ready Get Safe Prep Rally activities and events to help build community awareness and educate children and families about simple things they can do to stay safe in emergencies. Get resources from Save the Children.

·       The Map of Play is a community generated guide to playspaces across the country. You can find playspaces near your location or add a new play space and help other people find great places to play wherever they may be! Find or add a playspace today at Get your community, youth group, or service organization involved with great group ideas in the activity kit. Then, take action to make playspaces in your community even better by planning a play day, organizing a clean-up, or building side projects.

·       Record and share the stories that are all around you. With the StoryCorps app and you can browse and listen to recordings from other users, add to the online library by sharing your own story, and activate your group, organization, or community around the power of storytelling.

·       Nelson Mandela International Day is in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18 and inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”.  It is more than a celebration of Madiba’s life and legacy. It is a global movement to honor his life’s work and act to change the world for the better.

·       National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

·       Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August (Texas celebrates on the first Tuesday in October). Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more.

·       International Youth Day is celebrated every year on August 12. International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. The current generation of youth are the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative. Organize an event for International #YouthDay

·       Pledge to do a good deed for the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The goal of 9/11 Day is to keep alive the spirit of unity and compassion that arose in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, providing a positive, helpful way for people to annually remember and pay tribute to the 9/11 victims, and honor those that rose in service in response to the attacks.

While these opportunities aren’t locally based they give youth an opportunity to get involved on a large scale, the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current local volunteer opportunities available with over 165 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email information@vccv.orgVolunteer opportunities may also be accessed at

Thanks to Youth Service America 

Monday, June 4, 2018

5 Reasons Volunteerism is Great for Seniors

As a volunteer, retirement can afford you the chance to work on a project or issue that is important to you – simply for the passion of it, rather than for a paycheck. Seniors have a unique set of skills and knowledge to offer as volunteers: a lifetime of experience can help you help others in a myriad of ways, from mentoring and tutoring younger generations to providing career guidance, to offering companionship and care.

Volunteerism isn’t just beneficial for those being helped – research shows that volunteering confers mental and physical health benefits for those doing the helping. It also fosters positive social and family relationships and contributes to a positive image of seniors as a healthy and vital part of our society. Here are just a handful of reasons volunteer activity is beneficial:

1.   It helps bridge the generation gap. Young people are often encouraged to volunteer as a way to broaden their horizons, improve their college prospects, build their resumes and help others while doing it. Seniors who volunteer have a unique opportunity to work with and assist younger generations — and learn from them, too.

2.   It helps to change the way people think about older adults. By using their talents and skills out in the world in a variety of ways, seniors demonstrate that they are active, involved and essential to a healthy community.

3.   It is good for mental health and can help prevent Alzheimer’s. The National Institute on Aging has reported that participating in social leisure activities and meaningful, productive activities such as volunteering may lower the risk of health problems in seniors, including dementia, as well as improving longevity. Being a volunteer can help keep the brain and the body active, which contributes to continuing cognitive health, according to numerous studies.

4.   It helps prevent senior isolation and depression. In addition to getting seniors out of the house and into the community, volunteering has a positive effect on psychological wellness: according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, those who volunteer experience greater life satisfaction, a sense of purpose and accomplishment, more stress resilience, and lower rates of depression.

5.   It promotes healthy physical activity. Volunteering can be good for keeping the body active, whether you’re building houses for Habitat for Humanity or walking around your favorite museum as a volunteer docent. Maintaining a healthy level of physical fitness as we age helps ward off disease, injury and even dementia.

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current volunteer opportunities available with over 165 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email opportunities may also be accessed at

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Baby Boomers Offer Large Numbers of Volunteers

Baby Boomers are members of a diverse group born between 1946 and 1964. Some still cope with teenagers at home, others pay university tuition fees, some care for aging parents while still others enjoy their grandchildren. Some baby boomers work full-time, some part-time, while others contemplate retirement or are already retired. Their interests and aspirations are as diverse as they are. They are always looking for new experiences, challenges and how to make a difference. Baby boomers want to stay active in mind and body, make connections and continue to learn.

Because of their sheer numbers, baby boomers influence and redefine every stage of their lives. Volunteering will be no different.

Research indicates four main reasons why baby boomers volunteer. They want to:
• Support a cause that they believe in.
• Contribute to society.
• Share their skills.
• Do something meaningful with their friends and colleagues.

More importantly, baby boomers want to volunteer on their own terms. Consider some of the challenges that baby boomers face:

They don’t have enough time.
• Theirs is known as a sandwich generation – caring for children and aging parents simultaneously leaves less free time.
They don’t have time during traditional work hours.
• Many baby boomers work full-time and many work past the traditional retirement age of 65. Unless their employers have a corporate volunteering program, these volunteers can’t always be available when you need them.

They don’t identify with traditional images of volunteers.
• The clich├ęd image of a kindly white-haired volunteer clashes with the way baby boomers see themselves – more youthful and dynamic than their parents.
They don’t want to do routine or menial volunteer tasks.
• With less free time, many of today’s volunteers expect challenging and meaningful work that reflects their skills and experience.
Short term (episodic) or a regular commitment?
Volunteering doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Between work, children, aging parents, homes, hobbies, friends, appointments, and other commitments, you may not think you have much time left over. But your involvement can be as much or as little time as you have.
• You can volunteer sporadically, to help at a special event, or on an on-going basis, for one day a week or a few days a year.
• If you go away on holidays, your volunteer work can be put on hold or shared with another volunteer.

Frontline help or behind-the-scenes support?
You can join your local community clean-up or lead the development the funding proposal.

Volunteering from home or out in the community?
Virtual volunteering can be done from home through Internet sites that link volunteers with recipients. You could connect with kids who need homework help or people who need a life coach.

Whatever you choose, be realistic about your commitment
Organizations can accommodate your interests and your time frame, no matter how little or how much you can do– but they do need you to show up when you say you will. The people they serve count on you.

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has numerous current volunteer opportunities available with over 165 local non-profit agencies. To secure volunteer opportunities call the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 272-2087 or email Volunteer opportunities may also be accessed at