Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Make A Difference Day With Green Iowa AmeriCorps

Millions of volunteers will unite to improve the lives of others in their communities on Make A Difference Day of Service. The Day, October 22, is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of every October.
Green Iowa AmeriCorps needs help cleaning up trash on a section of Highway 20 in Cedar Falls on October 22 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. Volunteers should meet at the Cedar Falls Tourism Center at 6510 Hudson Road. Green Iowa AmeriCorps will provide transportation to the clean-up site, as well as bags, vests, and gloves.

Green Iowa AmeriCorps is coordinated by the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy & Environmental Education providing residential energy audit services to under-served communities across Iowa, weatherization services with free materials for low-income, elderly, veterans and persons with disabilities, and energy-related education programs to engage communities in volunteer generation. The organization was founded in 2009 to address conservation and sustainable usage of energy resources in several Iowa communities as they struggled to rebuild from the devastating floods of 2008. Since the start of the flood recovery, Green Iowa AmeriCorps has been an active community partner. Other involvement in the community includes deconstruction projects, creating energy educational programs for all ages, and assisting in the development of energy-related community events.

Visit www.vccv.org to learn about these opportunities. For more information regarding Make A Difference Day opportunities, call 319-272-2087 or email the VCCV.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Make A Difference Day!

On one day each year, we want to inspire the nation to make a difference. Make A Difference Day, October 22, is one of the largest annual single-days of service nationwide. No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone has the power to do something that improves the life of another. Whether it’s starting a project that helps one person, or working on one that benefits a whole community, every contribution makes a difference. Volunteers will unite with a common mission — to improve the lives of others in its 25th year. 

Of course, the VCCV will assist all volunteers, from one person to a group of volunteers, in finding appropriate matches with area non-profits. Visit www.vccv.org to learn about these opportunities. For more information regarding Make A Difference Day opportunities, call 319-272-2087 or email.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Flood Recovery Efforts In Black Hawk County - Volunteers Needed!

The Black Hawk County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) have began prioritizing and assessing flood recovery efforts. This collective group is made up of voluntary agencies, businesses, and governmental agencies in order to allow for more effective preparedness, response and recovery.  

 The early response to the recovery is identifying emergency food and shelter followed by clean-up and assessment of damages.  The early assessments will be compiled by the 211 service.  Residents who have damage to report should call 211, 319-739-4211, or 1-866-469-2241.  The information collected on the call includes name, address, telephone number, age of oldest in the household, type of damage, type of insurance coverage and volunteer need. 

 Gov. Terry Branstad issued a proclamation of disaster emergency activating the Iowa Individual Assistance Program providing grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the current federal poverty level, or a maximum annual income of $40,320, for a family of three. Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and for the expense of temporary housing. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to disaster recovery. The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website. Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim. Locally the applications will be taken by Operation Threshold, 319 -291-2065.

 Those interested in volunteering to assist with recovery efforts should complete volunteer interest form through the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley's website. Groups and individuals being accepted.

 For more information about ways to provide assistance, please contact the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Economic Impact of Volunteers

Volunteers make an enormous impact on the health and well-being of communities. Consider all of the ways that volunteers make a difference in day-to-day life:
  • Volunteers help to keep our neighborhoods, streets, parks, rivers, green spaces, and water clean and safe for everyone.
  • Volunteers deliver critical services—from serving as volunteer firefighters or participating in search and rescue, to delivering meals to homebound seniors or homeless youth, to manning the phone lines at domestic violence and sexual assault centers.
  • Volunteers tutor, teach, mentor, coach, and support young people with everything from reading to dealing with personal crises to football and soccer tourneys.
  • Volunteers walk dogs, pet cats, clean cages, help with adoptions and feedings, and contribute veterinary expertise to organizations like animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers.
  • Volunteers educate the public on health and safety; doctors and nurses donate time and medical knowledge to free clinics and natural/civil disaster areas globally.
  • Volunteers take tickets at performing arts events, lead tours at museums and historical societies, and ensure that arts and cultural festivals—from small-scale gatherings to massive multi-stage concerts—run smoothly.
  • Volunteers build houses and schools, dig wells, and repair public services around the world.

Statistically speaking…

What if… 

Another way to measure the impact of volunteers is to take a look at statistics like hours served and the economic value of volunteer time.
The Value of Volunteer Time, which is updated annually, is made available by Independent Sector. The current Independent Sector rate is $23.56 per hour (2015). According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 62.8 million Americans, or 25.3 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $184 billion in 2014.

Volunteers are critical partners of and participants throughout the world. Whether actively giving their time through formal organizations, or taking part in what is sometimes called "informal volunteering" where citizens voluntarily participate in community activities or provide personal care for family, friends, neighbors, or even strangers as part of accepted cultural norms of giving and reciprocity.

Volunteers have 27% higher odds of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers, possibly due to developing new skills and expanding personal networks. Volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers. Nearly 80% of volunteers donated to charity, compared to 40 percent of non-volunteers. Overall, half of all Americans donated at least $25 to charity in 2014. Generation X had the highest volunteer rate of all age groups at 30%, but the Silent Generation (75 and older) had the highest median hours among volunteer at 100 while 1 in 5 Millennials volunteered in 2014. Over the past 13 years, Americans volunteered 104.9 billion hours, estimated to be worth $2.1 trillion. (CNCS)

Finally, here's a remarkable way of looking at the impact of volunteers. Consider if one day, all volunteers failed to show up? What would our cities, towns, state parks, hospitals, schools, places of worship, and libraries look like? What basic needs would go unmet? What opportunities to grow as a society would be lost? The fact is you likely cross paths with a volunteer at least once if not several times a day, no matter where you are in the world.

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley works to promote and support effective volunteerism and to serve as the resource and coordination center for volunteers and community partnerships. To secure volunteer opportunities call (319) 272-2087, email information@vccv.org or visit www.vccv.org

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

10 Volunteer Ideas for Small Businesses That Want to Give Back

When you start earning a profit from your business, it’s normal to feel the urge to give something back to those who are less fortunate than you. Giving back to your community by volunteering your time is not only admirable morally, but strategically as well.

Before we get into the list of volunteer ideas for small businesses, let’s back up and look at why volunteering can be so hugely beneficial for small companies.

How Volunteering Helps Your Business
When your community members and customers see you spending time volunteering and helping others, something called the halo effect comes into play. If you manage this “cognitive bias” correctly, it could mean your business earns loyal customers before they even purchase a product or service from you.

The halo effect is a psychology term that describes a bias where our first or most powerful impression of someone influences how we judge and evaluate that person later on – long after that original impression and in spite of any actions that do not support our original impression.

Very Well put it simply in this example: “Essentially, your overall impression of a person (He is nice!) impacts your evaluations of that person’s specific traits (He is also smart!).”

What volunteering says about you
By volunteering in your community and getting involved locally, you’re shifting that cognitive bias in your favor. For many people, this will be their first impression of your company. You’re a trustworthy business that cares about your community and doesn’t mind getting your hands dirty to help. You’re interested in more than just profits. That’s a powerful first impression to make on community members, and one that will be carried on as you stay involved.

The halo effect can help your business win loyal customers, and volunteering in your community can put it all in motion and put your best foot forward with your audience. Now, back to the list of volunteer ideas for businesses!

10 Volunteer Ideas for Small Businesses

1. Sponsor a community youth sports team. You’ll get excellent local advertising and you’ll feel good about doing your part. For bonus points, join or start an adult sports league (softball, soccer, volleyball, etc.) and make it a point to connect with your teammates!

2. Guide local history tours if they accept volunteers. They’ll teach you everything you need to know, you’ll learn more about the history of your community, and people will associate your face and name with something culturally valuable and positive.

3. Hold a bake sale for your favorite local charity or organization. Get everyone from your business together, or enlist the help of family and friends to bake cakes, cookies, pies, and bars to sell one weekend and give the profits to the organization you choose.

4. Organize a small community auction for charity. Ideas for items to auction: Gift baskets with edible goodies from local stores, gift certificates to local restaurants, entertainment, or health and wellness services, free nights at local bed and breakfasts, hotels, and motels, antiques, furniture, and vouchers good for local lessons.

5. Teach or lead a local class. It can be anything that people are interested in learning how to do – basic computer skills, baking, couponing, music, art, history, fossil hunting, etc. An additional benefit is that you strengthen your brand image by positioning yourself as an industry expert, earning the community’s trust.

6. Get a team together for a walking or running event for a cause, like Relay for Life or Race for the Cure. Show your support (and your sillier side, if you’d like) by dressing in bright colors and matching team outfits/shirts for the event!

7. Offer to help local organizations with small tasks during events, like handing out brochures, water bottles, or picking up garbage. Bonus: Introduce yourself as the owner of ___, here today to pitch in and help the event run smoothly however you can.

8. Get involved in or organize a local cleanup! This is one of our favorite volunteer ideas. A nearby river, empty lot, beach, or park could look good as new in just a couple hours with a big group from your community helping clean it up.

9. Give back to the environment. Say you’ll plant a tree for every $5 spent at your business, offer discounts when customers bring their own recyclable bags, or start a community garden.

10. Host a food-packaging event for hungry children. Your local school will likely allow you to host there. Spread the word and watch the community come together for a great cause!

Thanks www.conversational.com/

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Impact of Neighboring - Findings

Neighboring helps children and youth succeed by providing opportunities, resources, and role models necessary to become successful adults.

Neighboring generates opportunities. Through programs that nurture through neighborhood-based caring connections, opportunities for children and youth expand. Some opportunities are formal. One leadership training program strengthens nonprofit boards, providing for institutional changes that affect children and families: “Graduates help make sure agencies serve clients. They have the life experience to make decisions about people.” Other Neighboring opportunities are not bound by the walls of an agency. When the doors close at a community center, the children, as a group, move to a neighborhood staff person’s home: “It is extended community.”

Neighbors helping neighborhood children
• Serving as tutors, mentors, and readers
• Providing meals, books, and child care assistance
• Assembling and donating small gifts
• Conducting workshops on healthy lifestyles and community issues
• Ensuring safe spaces for children to freely play and grow

Neighboring links resources and children. Resources travel by way of parents and guardians, with benefits spilling over to children. Child welfare agencies are invited to a block party to provide information and referral services to attendees, for instance. Tax assistance programs such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are especially strong producers of external benefits from parents to children. Respondents noted, “Parents who get the income tax credit have more resources to support their children,” and “This frees up money to assist with things they need at home.”

Neighboring creates role models for children. Children “see caring and kindness modeled” when neighbors provide service. More importantly, when volunteers are people to whom children relate, the notion of “helping ourselves” becomes more possible, imbuing self-reliance. Parents become role models when they take an active role in their children’s life. Parenting classes and parental involvement opportunities are common. As with all Neighboring programs, the recipients of service (children) are also empowered to be service providers. Through their Neighboring experiences, children “gain a sense of pride,” “feel part of something bigger,” and become friends.

Neighboring changes the lines of accountability. The accountability to children in Neighboring is different than a traditional social service model. Parents and neighbors have a personal stake. “These are OUR children,” one volunteer noted, and then went on to say, “I love being around the people who helped my family grow up.” This sense of responsibility to children of the neighborhood is unwavering and transcends institutional boundaries.

Neighboring helps to improve the quality of the places in which the nation’s most vulnerable children and families live.

Neighboring gives power. Shaping the community agenda heightens individuals’ desire to engage and their self-efficacy. This resident involvement is “a long process” that often requires “time to educate people” to show them “they have power and they have a voice”; yet on all accounts, the dialogue indicates that benefits of capturing and using resident voice outweigh the costs. As one grantee stated, “When you spend that much time, there is a lot more buy-in. Things are more vetted out. ...They have a stake in it now.”

Neighboring connects neighbors. “We have open gym, but that is not going to change lives. It is the people met there that does,” was an example one volunteer used to illustrate that “programs are ways to create connections and relationships,” or the “things really valued in the neighborhood.” So while the programs are important, it is the “sense of family” and “camaraderie” cited by so many that speak to why a neighborhood approach works. By joining people in collective action, Neighboring helps people realize “they are not alone” and their neighbors “care” and “want success for everybody.” In this, they see “potential.”

Neighboring supplies leaders. As one long-time community activist said, “We don’t want to call on the same people all time. … This program brings new people. … It is extremely important that minorities are represented and that we create a long line of future leaders.” And youth earn leadership skills early on. As one Neighboring volunteer noted, “This taught me a lot about leadership roles and life lessons that I wouldn't have learned if I wasn't involved so early. It helped me stayed focused on doing the best I can for everyone around me and myself.”

Neighboring counts not only the people who self-select as leaders; numerous respondents referenced certain community members who unconsciously grew into leadership roles. “Sometimes people don't know that they started something and that they are the leader,” one respondent explained. Another resident volunteer helps to “break the ice” when volunteer groups arrive at seniors’ homes for painting and yard work.

Neighboring helps to provide low-income workers with the supports they need to get and keep good jobs and to build assets and savings.

Neighboring puts money into the pockets of low-income workers. Through tax assistance programs, low-income people receive real resources. Resident volunteers involved in tax preparation tended to view it as not just a service but a “re-education” in how people think about getting their taxes done. “The for-profit places make taxes seem like a mystery. Demystifying things for people is really important. When people realize they can do something, it is empowering.”

Neighboring builds financial skills and knowledge. Through the tax programs mentioned above, resident volunteers gain knowledge of taxes that affect their own lives. Subgrantees supported classes, workshops, and experiential learning sessions often led by resident volunteers and even resident staff members on topics such as budgeting, business planning, managing money, opening savings accounts, and filing taxes.

Neighboring helps promote workforce participation through job creation and skill development.

Neighboring indirectly affects workforce participation. Respondents alluded to life skills that they gained, or helped others gain, that are thought to have indirect impact on family economic security. As a staff member said, “The one thing that we want people to realize: a lot of things are transferable. Skills are transferable; attitudes are transferable; behaviors [are transferable].” Beneficiary knowledge, changed through more traditional areas of education, is also imparted by resident volunteers. One site serves a majority of resident clients at an “education level that is more about survival” and focuses on building basic reading, language, and math skills. There are also instances when resident volunteers are offered employment as a result of their volunteering, especially volunteer tax preparers.

Thanks to HandsOn Network

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

UPCOMING SERVICE PROJECT: Join Us on September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

Residents will step up through service to mark the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks for the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. Volunteers will provide clean up services, joining hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country in volunteer service.
Interested volunteers are invited to join with members of First Presbyterian Church, Harvest Vineyard Church, and the Walnut Neighborhood Association as they spruce up the neighborhood by picking up litter from the sidewalks, vacant lots, and streets.
  • Meet in the Park Avenue parking lot of First Presbyterian at 3 p.m., Sunday, September 11. Teams will be assigned to spread out into the neighborhood. Gloves and garbage bags will be provided.
  • Return to First Presbyterian Church at 4:30 p.m. to enjoy fellowship at the Sunday Supper served at the church.
The September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance is the culmination of efforts originally launched in 2002 by the nonprofit 9/11 Day with support by the 9/11 community and leading national service organizations. This effort first established the inspiring tradition of engaging in charitable service on 9/11 as an annual and a forward-looking tribute to the 9/11 victims, survivors, and those who rose up in service in response to the attacks.

This event is sponsored by First Presbyterian Church, Harvest Vineyard Church, Walnut Neighborhood Association, and Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley. 

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley works to promote and support effective volunteerism and to serve as the resource and coordination center for volunteers and community partnerships. To secure volunteer opportunities call (319) 272-2087, email information@vccv.org or visit www.vccv.org