Monday, May 14, 2018

Benefits of Volunteerism in High School

Summer is the perfect time to volunteer or establish a long-term relationship with an area nonprofit. All high school students can benefit from getting involved throughout their years in high school as opposed to waiting to pad their college applications in their senior year. May is the ideal month to line up volunteer relationships. Learn more about the how’s and why’s of volunteering throughout high school.

Benefits of Volunteerism in High School
Those four years in high school are the perfect time to volunteer. Although it may seem difficult to find the time to volunteer toward a cause that offers no (monetary) payment in return, the benefits drawn from the experience may end up being worth more than what students make working that part-time job. Whether a freshman or senior, it’s never too late to investigate volunteering. If you’d like to use your community service experience as leverage on a college application, the sooner the better! Here are some benefits of volunteerism in high school to assist students in considering the good things about volunteering that may not have been considered.

Impress Admissions Officials
There are a lot of high school students applying to college with impressive academic records. The GPAs and standardized test scores start to matter less especially when students are applying to the more selective schools that include cut-offs when it comes to their admissions requirements. Students are then up against thousands of applicants with the same academic credentials. How do students stand out? What youth choose to do outside of the classroom matters, whether it’s playing sports, working a part-time job, or volunteering their time in their community.

Volunteerism is a great way to show admissions officials that students not only care about the community but are able to manage their time well enough to balance volunteering with other commitments. This doesn’t mean applicants should volunteer all the time or spread oneself thin by volunteering for several different organizations. A sustained commitment to a cause throughout high school or a volunteer position that has been maintained for a longer period will look impressive to admission officials.

Get Involved Outside of School
Getting involved in some volunteer work may introduce students to people they wouldn’t have otherwise met. Lots of high school students focus on extracurricular activities related to their schools – sports, music, and after-school clubs make time management an art. There’s a lot of value in getting involved outside of your school. The more people one meets, especially while doing something worthwhile like volunteering, the more contacts students will have when they’re ready to move on from high school and apply to colleges, internships, and even jobs after you graduate from a university. If as a high school student, they already know their proposed field of study in college, they may try finding volunteer opportunities in those areas. There’s no reason volunteer experience shouldn’t help in future endeavors.

Earn Academic Credit and Scholarships
Some high schools, especially those with career-based curriculums or religious affiliations require that students fulfill a certain number of volunteer hours in order to graduate. Others reward students for choosing to do some volunteer work on their own with academic credit. If the school offers service-learning as a part of the curriculum, students could be eligible for some academic or extra credit if you volunteer your time or get involved with a community service project.

Community service scholarships are one of the more common scholarship categories available. Those awards are not reserved for college students. In fact, there are more community service scholarships available to high school students looking for funding to help pay for that first year on campus. If a student has a history of volunteerism, make sure to consider that in your scholarship search and scholarship application process. Admissions officials aren’t the only people you can impress with that kind of experience. Scholarship administrators like community service records as well.

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley is a one-stop shop for volunteerism and service-learning. The VCCV represents over 165 nonprofit agencies with numerous volunteer opportunities. In addition, the VCCV offers service-learning in area schools, teaching a hands-on approach to volunteering. Students with an interest in volunteering should call (319) 272-2087, email, or visit to get involved.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Families and Children as Volunteers

Many volunteer jobs are perfect for families with children. Decide whether you're interested in a one-time project like collecting children's books and donating them to a hospital or consider a longer-term commitment such as serving dinner at a homeless shelter once a month.

An easy way to find out about volunteer opportunities in the Cedar Valley is to call the VCCV and describe your location, interests, and ages of your children. The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley has a database to match you with an appropriate volunteer project. If you've decided on an ongoing volunteer job, talk to the agency's volunteer coordinator about training and orientation. Make a visit before making a commitment and trust your instincts about whether you think it will be a comfortable environment for you and your children.

Once you've decided on a project, explain to your children exactly what to expect. Be enthusiastic about what you're doing and explain why the job is important. Answer your child's questions about the work and the people you'll be interacting with.

Above all, have fun. You might consider teaming up with another family, inviting one of your child's friends to help out, or stopping for a picnic in the park or ice cream on the way home to discuss your experience. What initially may seem like another task on your to-do list can become a wonderful bonding moment within your family.

10 Ways Kids Can Help:
1.    Donate food to a food pantry. Have your child pick out one item each time you go to the store. When you get a bagful, take it to a local food pantry.
2.    Walk to fight disease. Many organizations use walks to increase awareness and raise funds. Kids 5 and up can walk a few miles, and you can push little ones in a stroller.
3.    Put together activity boxes. If your child is a preschooler, decorate shoe boxes and fill them with a deck of cards, small games, puzzles, and books for kids at the local hospital.
4.    Visit a nursing home. Your family can be matched with one person to call on regularly.
5.    Clean up. Pick up litter at a local park or while you take a walk in the neighborhood. (Wear gloves and supervise your children closely.)
6.    Befriend the elderly. Call a care facility that meets the needs of elderly people and ask to be matched with someone whom you can include in family events, holiday activities, and outings. The center will select someone who can interact well with children.
7.    Deliver meals. You and your child can bring both hot food and companionship to homebound people through a local charity food service.
8.    Offer a lift. Take your kids along to drive elderly people to their medical appointments, or take nursing-home residents or isolated seniors to the grocery store or to visit friends.
9.    Share story time. Read your child's favorite books to children in the hospital. Your child can sit next to you and turn the pages.
10.   Be kind to animals. Volunteer to care for dogs or cats that need love and attention.

The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley represents over 165 nonprofit agencies with numerous volunteer opportunities. Call or visit the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at 319-272-2087, or for a complete listing of volunteer opportunities in the Cedar Valley.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Mayors’ Volunteer and Top Teen Awards 2018

The annual Mayors' Volunteer and Top Teen Awards were presented by the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley, Mayor Jim Brown, Mayor Doug Faas, and Mayor Quentin Hart on Tuesday, May 1 at the Diamond Event Center at Jorgensen Plaza in Cedar Falls at two separate events.

The Mayors’ Volunteer Awards program recognizes outstanding volunteers in the Cedar Valley, includes categories including the Volunteer Award, Outstanding Emerging Volunteer Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Mayors' Top Teen Awards recognizes youth age 13-18 in Black Hawk County for their commitment to volunteerism.

Volunteer Award nominees:

  • Deirdre Bailleau nominated by Wheaton Franciscan*
  • Dale & Amy Barglof nominated by ISU Extension*
  • Karin Blonigan nominated by Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity
  • Howard Craven nominated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa*
  • Ted & Tabetha Gehrke nominated by Boys & Girls Clubs of the Cedar Valley
  • Misti Keeling nominated by World's Window
  • Charlotte Leitz nominated by the Northeast Iowa Food Bank*
  • Angela Longhorn nominated by ASPIRE Therapeutic Riding Program*
  • Andrea McDowell nominated by the Department of Human Services
  • Eilene Ortiz nominated by the Salvation Army
  • Beth Primrose nominated by Western Home Communities*
  • Tammy Smith nominated by House of Hope
  • Betty Spence nominated by Cedar Valley Hospice
  • Gloria Spiegel nominated by Cedar Valley Hospice*
  • Jay Stoddard nominated by Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Center
  • Jim Thompson nominated by House of Hope
  • Ashley Ungs nominated by Ryan Collins, Lincoln Savings Bank

Outstanding Emerging Volunteer Award nominees:
  • Ryan Howard nominated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa
  • Abby Pereboom nominated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa
  • Blake Rottink nominated by Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare*

Lifetime Achievement Awards nominees:
  • Muriel Galloway nominated by Sally Goodenbour*
  • John Gary nominated by Care Initiatives Hospice*
  • Randy Gericke nominated by West Waterloo High School
  • Donna Miller nominated by Allen Hospital
  • Luanne Puhl nominated by Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare*
  • Jane Shea nominated by Kathy Martins and Carol Waters*
  • Linda Williams nominated by Cedar Valley Hospice. 
*Mayors' Volunteer Awards honorees

Top Teen Award honorees:
Emma Bailey, Allison Brasch, Sam Buser, Kayla Carolan, Travis Carolan, Astoria Chao, Maya Gabriele, Ryan Gilstrap, Joshua Hamlyn, Caitlin Heine, Abigail Henderson, Emily Henry, Morgan Kegebein, Emily Lehman, Marissa McFadden, Megan Naughton, Julianne Neff, Megan Pezley, Stephanie Prather, Teagan Prouse, Jade Roquet, Umair Sarwar, Olivia Sash, Zeke Seuser, Kate Shannon, Brooke Steimel, Hannah Van Sickle, Ryleigh Weber, Jared Winkers

For more information about how to get involved in volunteering, contact the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at (319) 272-2087 or visit

Mayors’ Volunteer Award nominees   

Mayors’ Top Teen Award honorees

Monday, April 23, 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.
• Make a contribution 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 kindly white-haired volunteer clashes with the way baby boomers sees 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 out 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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Recognizing Volunteers

Much is said about recognizing volunteers. In a recent survey in Illinois, 44% of those responding said they don't think they do a good job of recognizing their volunteers. This response made me wonder if people think 'recognition' is the end-of-the-year dinner Many agencies don't have the resources to do this kind of event and feel bad about not doing it.
However, I believe good leaders recognize their volunteers from the minute they join a program by treating them as individuals with talents and interests who need to be matched to the right task. Leaders also understand the value of praising effective work at the time it takes place and treating volunteers as important members of the team. This kind of recognition is more important than any social event that might be held.
I have found over the years that while some volunteers love the big yearly event, others don't care at all and find their satisfaction in the work they do and the feedback from those they work with. This could be recognition in the organization's newsletter, a note from a pleased staff member or client, or a 'promotion' to a more responsible volunteer assignment.
Volunteer recognition can be public or private and should be appropriate to the person and his/her contribution. Most of all, it should be honest and demonstrate some particular insight into what that person has done.
The following are some everyday ways to recognize volunteers:
·       Learn what motivates each volunteer and make your recognition appropriate to what he or she thinks is important.
·       Give volunteers tasks in which they will be successful.
·       Give volunteers whatever training is necessary to perform well.
·       Thank volunteers genuinely and appropriately.
·       Give volunteers feedback.
·       Invite volunteers to participate in decision making.
·       Promote volunteers to other roles that take better advantage of their talents.
·       Ask volunteers for their feedback.
·       Ask volunteers to recruit others.
·       Make sure the volunteers are doing work that is meaningful to them and the community.
·       Let the volunteers know about the outcomes of the program.
·       Never forget the power of a simple thank you, oral or written."

Jeanne H. Bradner
Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today

Found in the Energize online library at

Monday, April 9, 2018

Join the VCCV’s Family Volunteer Day!

Celebrate the Power of Families and Join us for Family Volunteer Day of Service
Saturday, April 21, 2018        
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Big Woods Lake
Cedar Falls

Teach your children the importance of service and nurture the desire to give back to the community.

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley will host a Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, April 21 from 10 - 11:30 a.m. at Big Woods Lake. This all age family-friendly event will focus on assisting Black Hawk County Conservation with a spring clean-up. 

Volunteers should plan to meet on the corner of North Big Woods Road and Lake Street. Gloves and garbage bags will be provided.

For more information on this event or to learn more about family-friendly volunteering contact the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley at (319) 272-2087, email or visit

Monday, April 2, 2018

Prepare To Celebrate Volunteerism In April

Volunteerism has become an integral part of society, affecting youth and adult volunteers, nonprofits and businesses at large. April has become the month for volunteer recognition with the nominations of the Mayors Day of Recognition of National Service, National Volunteer Week, and Global Youth Service Day. Additionally, volunteerism will be celebrated locally at the Mayors’ Volunteer and Top Teen Awards. The Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley is the lead agency for these April events.

To spotlight the impact of national service and thank those who serve, mayors and country officials will participate in the fifth annual National Service Recognition Day on April 3, 2018.

National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.

This year National Volunteer Week’s theme, Celebrate Service, presents an opportunity for individuals, families, nonprofit organizations and government entities alike to celebrate the ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary things through service April 15 – 21.

Each year, millions of youth around the world work together with schools, youth organizations, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, volunteer and national service programs, government agencies, faith communities, and other individuals to address critical issues and change their communities on Global Youth Service Day.

Global Youth Service Day is held during the last weekend of National Volunteer Week on April 20 – 22. Through programs such as this, youth volunteers are recognized for the tremendous impact they are making on our country's most critical challenges year-round.

Locally, the Mayors’ Volunteer Awards honor the exemplary contributions of individuals ages 19 and older who dedicate their time and talent to volunteerism in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Evansdale and surrounding communities in Black Hawk County.

The Mayors’ Top Teen Awards honor youth ages 13-18 attending a school in Black Hawk County. The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa also selects one junior from each of the accredited high schools in Black Hawk County to receive the $1000 Mother Moon Service Scholarship.

This year, the Mayors’ Volunteer and Top Teen Award recipients will be recognized at special events on May 1.

Contact the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley for more information about volunteer placements at (319) 272-2087, 
email, or visit