GardenShare Fights Hunger in Rural North Country, NY with Community Volunteers

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This June, we’ll be featuring stories of national service programs operating in the Healthy Futures focus area. National service programs like AmeriCorps and the Volunteer Generation Fund can play a key role in promoting health within a state, from coordinating community gardening, delivering summer meals, to promoting healthy lifestyles, outdoor activities, and fitness. Learn more at nationalservice.gov/focus-areas/healthy-futures. #HealthyFutures

NEW YORK.  GardenShare is a locally-led nonprofit seeking to end hunger and strengthen food security in northern New York State, and is a recipient of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant. Gardenshare’s mission is to solve the problem of hunger in St. Lawrence County by strengthening the food system to benefit residents across the rural county.

At GardenShare-supported farmers markets, VGF-supported volunteers provide education and information to low-income consumers about the benefits of buying fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition, GardenShare has announced its second year of offering “double dollars” at farmers markets to consumers who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Last year, this program increased the SNAP benefit use at farmers markets by 70%, and GardenShare plans to expand this program this year to reach a larger population. This allows low-income individuals and families to purchase twice as much produce if using their SNAP benefits, and is an important step towards their mission of making fresh, healthy food available to everyone.

GardenShare’s mission and activities exemplify the Healthy Futures focus area of national service. Last year, more than 500 volunteers contributed to capacity building efforts, and provided 8,000 meals for individuals and families in rural, upstate New York.

Learn more about GardenShare and sign up to volunteer at www.gardenshare.org.

Learn more about the NY Commission on National and Community Service’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program here.

GardenShare Fights Hunger in Rural North Country, NY with Community Volunteers

Maryland Volunteer Generation Fund boosts impact of volunteers in addressing critical community needs

Maryland VGF

This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we feature stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

MARYLAND. The Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (GOSV), the state service commission in the “Old Line State,” is a critical part of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives. Through the use of federal dollars, it funds 19 AmeriCorps State programs in 2016-2017 program year to support disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families in Maryland.

Established in 1993, the office advocates for effective volunteer program management and recognizes volunteer service across the state on behalf of the Governor of Maryland. Each year, over 200,000 Maryland volunteers are recognized by the Governor’s Office through activities and services provided by the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism.

The Maryland GOSV also funds ten volunteer connector organizations and Maryland Volunteer Centers through the Volunteer Generation Fund to increase their ability to recruit and retain volunteers in diverse opportunities, as well as increase the organizations’ usage of effective volunteer management practices. The ten Volunteer Generation Fund grantees then utilize these funds to boost the impact of volunteers in addressing critical community needs.

Below is one story written by Maryland Commissioner Krista Gilmore of Cecil County Department of Community Services, who serves as the volunteer and community resource coordinator and has seen firsthand the impact VGF funds are having on Cecil County:

 

“Reflections on Cecil Cares and Two Exceptional Community Volunteers”

By Krista Gilmore, Commissioner, Maryland Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism

Each September, Volunteer Cecil sponsors Cecil Cares, which is a countywide day of service. We asked two of the members of the Cecil Cares Planning Team to share their thoughts on their involvement with the 2016 – and now 2017 – project, and here is what they had to say:

“I would like to start by saying how hard it is to put on paper my excitement for Cecil Cares 2016. I am very passionate about giving back and helping our community. To be a member of the planning team is a huge honor. Last year I, along with other volunteers, helped out at The Fair Hill Nature Center. We worked hard raking, planting, painting, and I had the pleasure of meeting new and wonderful people of our beautiful county (all while helping spruce up the gorgeous Fair Hill Nature Center!). I am very excited for Cecil Cares 2017!! I believe it is a great way to bring our community together for one day to give back. We worked hard, laughed and joked. I went home feeling great not just for doing a good deed but because of all the wonderful new neighbors that I met on that day!”

“Thanks for a successful Cecil Cares Project. As a unique community service project for nonprofits, volunteers and businesses, the work day was exceptional. First, I enjoyed networking, brainstorming and working with a variety of organizations throughout Cecil County who organized, promoted and secured the projects for our day of service. Next, partnering with businesses, religious organizations, schools, county government and nonprofit groups provided a connection for everyone. Finally, as a member of the Cecil Cares committee, a board member of the Fair Hill Nature Center, and a member of St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church, I had a front row seat regarding the preparation of this event. The church was a sponsor for one of the projects, and provided a community of volunteers to participate during our day of service to Cecil County. I can’t wait until next year, as we grow this legacy throughout Cecil County!”

In addition to our work on Cecil Cares, one of our goals for Volunteer Cecil is to celebrate volunteerism, and to tell the stories that are often overlooked. We look for people and events to showcase even when they are not included in our formal VGF reports. Two local residents were recently honored for their service: Ralph Young was inducted into the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, and Wilma Clay celebrated 25 years of service as a Home Delivered Meal volunteer! We are proud to know them [and] to highlight their service.

To learn more about Maryland’s Volunteer Generation Fund initiative and programming, visit gosv.maryland.gov/our-volunteer-generation-fund-grantees/.

Maryland Volunteer Generation Fund boosts impact of volunteers in addressing critical community needs

Volunteer Mississippi engages 96,000 in volunteer service thanks to Volunteer Generation Fund

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

MISSISSIPPI. The mission of Volunteer Mississippi, the state commission on service and volunteerism in the Magnolia State, is to to engage and support Mississippians of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities. Established in 1994 as the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS), Volunteer Mississippi also administers the state’s volunteer center network with support from the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF), helping mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Last year, thanks to Volunteer Generation Fund support from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Mississippi Volunteer Center Network recruited or managed an overall total of 96,550 individual and group volunteers that served 875,246 hours for a wide range of causes throughout the state. Of the total number of volunteers, 51,981 were new volunteers who served 472,271 hours.

In addition, capacity building trainings were offered to 1,362 nonprofit participants — resulting in 167 nonprofit partners implementing 3 or more effective volunteer management practices.  The largest number of volunteers were active with programs that served Children and Family Services & Advocacy, Education, Hunger and Homelessness, and Disaster Services. Volunteer Centers hosted food, clothing, necessities and toy drives, and recruited volunteers to feed the homeless, build Habitat houses, read to children, and clean up parks and waterways. Volunteer Centers planned events and engaged 11,708 volunteers in projects for Family Volunteer Day in November; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in January; National Volunteer Week and Global Youth Service Day in April; 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance in September and Make a Difference Day in October, in addition to regional days of service like Day of Caring, Alternative Spring Break, the Big Event, and The Cotton Festival.

This year, 2017 is starting off strong with more than 31,000 volunteer engagements reported – 1,642 of those from Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service educational events, parades, breakfasts and community projects. Volunteer Centers around the state will be recognizing volunteers in the month of April with celebration dinners and lunches, and press conferences. Several Global Youth Service Day events are scheduled, with Volunteer Starkville as the lead agency this year.

To learn more about Volunteer Mississippi’s VGF program and subgrantees, visit volunteermississippi.org/.

Volunteer Mississippi engages 96,000 in volunteer service thanks to Volunteer Generation Fund

Virginia’s Volunteer Generation Fund programs give back, help others from ‘cradle to career’

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

VIRGINIA. The mission of Virginia Service, the state commission on service and volunteerism in the “Old Dominion,” is to strengthen communities by inspiring Virginians to actively engage, volunteer, and serve. Virginia Service also administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to organizations that mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Virginia is now in its third year of programming through the Volunteer Generation Fund.  The VGF program builds volunteer capacity in Virginia through local subgrantees who then work to increase the number of active volunteers and volunteer hours, as well as to strengthen volunteer organizations by incorporating effective volunteer management practices into their program operations.  The biggest overall impacts to date have been increased volunteer capacity throughout the state, improvement in organizations’ volunteer management practices, and heightened awareness of and appreciation for volunteers and the value they bring to an organization and the community.

The Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) in Virginia is comprised of four subgrantees in southwest, northern and central Virginia:

  1. The Appalachian Community Action and Development Agency focuses on volunteer activities for a mentoring program for high school seniors and an early childhood reading program for children of families utilizing local food pantries.
  2. Community Residences supports volunteers who provide assistance to individuals with mental health needs and intellectual disabilities through community housing property management, direct service, community engagement, and volunteer program administration and recruitment.
  3. The Council on Community Services is implementing a school-based volunteer program in the Roanoke Valley –  with the intention of replicating their model in other localities.
  4. The United Way of Southwest Virginia supports the agency’s “cradle to career” focus and provides tutoring for elementary school students who need assistance with reading and/or math skills; enhances middle school, high school and post-secondary achievement among local youth; and assists local agencies with the recruitment and retention of volunteers.
The VGF program also supports special large-scale volunteer day events. In January, Virginia’s Volunteer Generation Fund programs honored MLK Day with service events and projects designed to impact their communties. In Roanoke, the Council of Community Services teamed up with The Advancement Foundation, a local AmeriCorps program, to host a financial literacy workshop. In Scott and Lee counties, Appalachian Community Action and Development’s VGF program collected personal hygiene items and donated to low income individuals and families. In Northern Virginia, Community Residences, Inc., partnered with the Target location in Burke to visit one of their residences to clean up and visit with residents. Volunteers also worked with the Tysons Corner Maggiano’s to prepare meals for home residents and teach them cooking skills. In Abingdon, the United Way of Southwest Virginia recruited volunteers to participate in a celebration that included a discussion on race relations in Southwest Virginia, followed by a unity march. Volunteers also painted and repaired the Charles Wesley Church parsonage. Click here to read the Bristol Herald Courier’s newspaper article about the MLK Day service projects.

In February, the United Way of Southwest Virginia became a certifying organization for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Organizations and individuals in Southwest Virginia can now nominate outstanding volunteers for this award which was created by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

In March, the United Way of Southwest Virginia celebrated the companies and individuals whose contributions to the organization in 2016 had a direct impact on the lives of working families in Southwest Virginia at the 2017 Impact Awards in Abingdon. The awards acknowledged volunteers, individuals, employee groups and corporations who lent their outstanding support to volunteer efforts, the campaign, and impact initiatives. The Volunteer of the Year in Education award went to Kent Berryman for his volunteer service with Smart Beginnings, an United Way program that works to improve access and quality of service to families with small children. The Volunteer of the Year in Financial Stability was presented to Virginia Cooperative Extension – Southwest District for their regional efforts in preparing students for their future with initiatives such as reality stores and career fairs. The Volunteer of the Year in Health award recipient was Chris Owens who has been instrumental in her leadership with the Healthy Community Action Team (HCAT) in Smyth County. Click here to view a full listing of the award recipients.

To learn more about Virginia Service’s VGF program and subgrantees, visit virginiaservice.virginia.gov/.

 

Virginia’s Volunteer Generation Fund programs give back, help others from ‘cradle to career’

Volunteer Generation Fund makes skill-based volunteering a pathway to employment for Floridians

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This April, in honor of National Volunteer Month, we’ll be featuring stories of how volunteers are impacting states and the ways in which state service commissions are leveraging the power of volunteers to meet critical local needs through their Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) activities. Learn more at statecommissions.org/volunteer-generation-fund.

FLORIDA. The mission of Volunteer Florida, the state service commission in the Sunshine State, is to strengthen communities through national service, fostering volunteerism, and leveraging resources. Volunteer Florida also administers the state’s Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) program, providing subgrants to organizations that mobilize volunteers in support of state and local priorities.

Volunteer Florida’s Volunteer Generation Fund is a unique skills-based volunteer program that builds capacity for nonprofits and service organizations and uses volunteerism as a pathway to work. VGF funding helps organizations to more effectively recruit, manage, and retain skills-based volunteers to serve in high value volunteer assignments. Skills-based volunteering leverages the experience, talents and education of volunteers such as accountants, attorneys, and IT professionals and matches them with the needs of nonprofits. Sub-grantees also receive comprehensive training, funding for program enhancements and ongoing technical assistance, and coaching to establish or strengthen their skills-based volunteer program.

In 2016, Volunteer Florida invested $212,500 in grants for 20 Florida nonprofits. These 20 Volunteer Generation Fund sub-grantees recruited 13,507 skills based volunteers who served 166,080 hours – a value of over $3.6 million.

VF is especially proud that nine of the 20 grantees opted into the Volunteer Florida RFP priority area of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) programs and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative.

Six STEM based grantees recruit volunteers to promote and engage students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers and engage STEM professionals as volunteers. Those organizations include Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County, BRACE, Growing Hope Foundation, Junior Achievement of North Florida, Parker Street Ministries, and the Tallahassee Museum.

My Brother’s Keeper initiative was launched to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. Through this initiative, local governments, business communities, and foundations aim to connect young people to mentoring, support networks, and the skills they need to secure employment and post-secondary education. The Volunteer Florida VGF sub-grantees supporting the My Brother’s Keeper initiative include Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County, Catholic Volunteers in Florida, Chapman Partnership, Family Support Services of North Florida, and Parker Street Ministries.

Impact Stories:

Catholic Volunteers in Florida Incorporated

Catholic Volunteers in Florida Inc. provides support to the St. Vincent de Paul Re-Entry Project, which improve job access and economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals across the state of Florida. The Vincentian Re-Entry Project connects people across differences in race, income, age, and life experience to make a positive difference in addressing public policy and structural change that allows greater opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals. All volunteer activities associated with the St. Vincent de Paul ReEntry Project relate to the My Brothers Keeper Initiative with the focus on increasing job opportunities for young men of color to enter the workforce, specifically men of color who are formerly incarcerated and face enormous barriers to securing a job because of their conviction. Catholic Volunteers in Florida Inc. engaged 237 skills based volunteers contributing 2,336 hours of service in 2016.

The Lightner Museum of Hobbies

The Lightner Museum is a nonprofit museum in the historic downtown district of St. Augustine. Skills-based volunteers will create public learning experiences in each of the Museum’s gallery spaces and support education initiatives. Volunteers are trained and provide visitors with history and information on our collections. They also lead school tours and adult tours. Volunteers contribute to our online blog, social media and write a quarterly newsletter. Through the Volunteer Generation Fund, The Lightner Museum has worked on modernizing their volunteer program. They’ve expanded volunteer descriptions and the application process, along with updating their volunteer policies and procedures. Many of these activities were also facilitated through the skills based volunteers who work in the office. The Lightner Museum of Hobbies engaged 154 skills based volunteers contributing 4,182 hours of service.

To learn more about Volunteer Florida’s VGF program and subgrantees, visit volunteerflorida.org/grants/#vgf.

Volunteer Generation Fund makes skill-based volunteering a pathway to employment for Floridians

501 Commons helps communities Prepare/Respond/Serve

501 Commons first created the Prepare/Respond/Serve program to help nonprofits create emergency preparedness plans. Through the Washington Commission of Volunteer Service’s Volunteer Generation Fund, the program has been expanded to low income housing properties. One of the innovations of this program is how it utilizes veteran volunteers, whose valuable skills help these communities build robust emergency preparedness plans. This program helps community organizations, especially those in vulnerable populations, respond to emergencies and recover quickly.

The local Volunteer Centers have assisted in recruiting skill-based veteran, active-duty, and bilingual volunteers. The program is able to pull from a database of over 450 volunteers in order to access those that are available and willing to apply their skills to the project. Another innovation is the customized planning tools that help communities build their emergency preparedness plans; the tools are the PRS Assessment©, pre- and post- questionaire to measure the levels of preparedness in the community, and a PRS Guide© that is customized for low-income communities. Another innovation is the high ability for replication of the program by the 501 Commons service members who share their skills in emergency preparedness with new service corps members. As an example, 501 Commons organized a teleconference for alumni to share their skills and knowledge with newer members last year.

To learn more about this program, see pages 69-70 in the Transforming Communities Through Service Publication.

501 Commons helps communities Prepare/Respond/Serve

Service Enterprise Initiative transforms nonprofits to be more effective

CAlogoThe California Volunteers Service Enterprise Initiative (CVSEI) is a social innovation program built on the Service Enterprise concept inspired by Reimagining Service. As a Volunteer Generation Fund program, the Service Enterprise Initiative serves to strengthen the capacity of California nonprofits to fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills to address community needs while building a sustainable revenue model for Volunteer Centers. Through a comprehensive research-backed assessment, training, consulting, and certification model, nonprofits are uniquely positioned to leverage the time and talent of volunteers, expand program operations and revenues which in turn will allow the nonprofit to realize higher programmatic impact and generate greater operational effectiveness. Simultaneously, selected Volunteer Centers are equipped with the program materials and technical assistance necessary to support these nonprofit Service Enterprise transformations.

Since 2012, seven California Volunteer Centers have piloted the training and consulting curriculum and worked with more than 70 organizations to achieve the Service Enterprise certification. In 2013, the Points of Light began working with California Volunteers to scale this innovation by launching a nationwide Service Enterprise Initiative (SEI). This collaboration will result in a nationwide Service Enterprise certification. By the end of June 2014, at least 180 additional nonprofits will have participated in the initiative as a result of eight California Volunteer Centers and 12 other leading nonprofit organizations in ten other states. This includes the engagement of state commissions and local United Way and HandsOn organizations in Virginia, Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia.

Learn more about the California Volunteers Service Enterprise Initiative on pg. 67 of Transforming Communities Through Service.

Service Enterprise Initiative transforms nonprofits to be more effective