"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."
HandsOn Texarkana thanks local business partner Lucas Kelly of H&K Electric in Nash, Texas for the outstanding electrical work the company completed at the Collins Home.
Children watch everything you do. By giving back to the community, you show them firsthand how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to help other people and animals and enact change. It’s also a valuable way for you to get to know organizations in the community and find resources and activities for your children and family.
Volunteering is at an all-time high. More and more youth are participating in community service projects and joining service organizations. Teens as well as adults are looking for ways to have impact and to give life meaning. Many parents find that working with their children on projects where their help is really needed strengthens family bonds and nurtures the whole family’s positive self-esteem. By doing some good in the world, everyone feels good in the world. Everyone feels good about themselves, and their family.
Volunteering can be a life-changing experience and an important chance for employees to build new skills. Plus, it’s a great way for your company to give back to the community.
How do you get employees to volunteer? The key is to build a culture of giving. Demonstrate that community service is a priority for your company. Not only does it enhance our communities but also provides an avenue for positive teambuilding and pride in employees work places. Here are five great ways to engage your staff in volunteer work.
1. Provide paid time off for volunteering.
Not everyone can afford to volunteer off the clock, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to give back to their community. Including paid time off for volunteering – or the option to volunteer on company time – in benefit packages is a great way to show your staff that you care about them and the community.
2. Communicate about volunteer opportunities.
If your employees aren’t volunteering, it may be because they don’t know where to start. Communication is the first step. Let your staff know if you offer paid time off for volunteering, and be sure to advertise upcoming service projects.
Think beyond bulletin boards and emails, though — make announcements during meetings. Show slideshows or videos of past service projects to get everyone excited. Pass around sign-up sheets and arrange carpools while you have everyone in one place.
3. Assign leadership roles.
Volunteering is a great way to build skills and take on more responsibility. Younger workers in particular are always looking for ways to learn new skills and progress in their careers. Plus, the extra responsibility gives employees a sense of pride and ownership over their work.
Nominating a volunteer coordinator is a good place to start, but there are countless ways to give volunteers leadership roles. Determine your employees’ strengths, and draw from those skills for leadership opportunities. Here are just a few examples:
4. Offer a variety of options.
If all your company’s volunteer efforts focus on physical labor like painting or gardening, some workers are sure to be unable to take part. From reading with kids to coding websites, there’s a volunteer option for everyone.
It’s also important to consider employees’ different schedules. When planning volunteer opportunities, include a healthy mix of daytime, evening and weekend events. And consider volunteer projects that can be done in a day, or completed over the course of several months.
5. Record and reward good deeds.
Don’t let your staff’s hard work go unrecognized. Tracking and rewarding volunteer hours is a great way to make volunteers feel appreciated and encourage other employees to join in.
Financial compensation is an obvious reward. Taking volunteerism into account when awarding raises, promotions and bonus pay will really demonstrate your company’s commitment to the community. You can also reward top volunteers by making a donation in their names to the nonprofits of their choice.
There are also plenty of low- and no-cost ways to recognize your employees’ volunteerism, such as:
Show our community that you care. Encouraging employees to volunteer may be a new venture, but the benefits to your company, staff and community are well worth it. Once you establish a culture of giving at your company, volunteering will become second nature to your employees! You don’t have to do it alone; HandsOn Texarkana provides volunteer opportunities, an avenue for corporate sponsorships, non-profit agency networking, volunteer programs, a community resource directory and an annual volunteer recognition event.
Senior transportation is crucial to ensure access to essential services such as medical care and grocery shopping. The availability of adequate transportation enables older persons to live independently in their communities, helps to prevent isolation and the possible need for long-term care placement. Many older people, who do not drive, must rely on family and friends to provide much of their transportation needs. But for others, it is necessary to find community resources to provide transportation, as this vital support service may be their only connection to the outside world.
HandsOn Texarkana’s Senior Transportation Program is provided by volunteers to take older citizens without any means of transportation for necessary appointments and trips to the grocery store. If you are interested in volunteering and serving the local senior community through our organization, contact us at 903-798-3211.
Working Together for Healthier Communities
A unified focus to improve our communities -- to make them places where people are healthy, safe, and cared for -- takes a lot of work. As community organizers, we know all too well that we can't do it alone. The ability to partner effectively with other individuals and organizations -- both inside and outside the community -- is absolutely essential to doing what we like to call "the work" of building healthy communities.
Join us as we work together for healthier communities at our next Unified Community Resource Council meeting. Unified Community Resource Council (UCRC) is an organization made up of non-profit agencies who come together the second Tuesday of every month. The purpose is to network and share information with each other about what services are offered to people in need. We meet at the Collins Home, 1915 Olive Street. For more information call 903- 798-3211.
Youth Volunteer Organization (YVO), educates and guides youth in community service. HandsOn Texarkana, The Volunteer Center, coordinates with non-profit organizations who provide youth community service opportunities.
There is a lot to be said for college scholarships that are merit-based. By rewarding both good grades and volunteer service, the concept of volunteering or service learning could teach our community how to produce educated, engaged citizens who know how to give back.
Today local governments and non-profits face the challenge of providing more services with fewer resources. Student volunteers bring energy and enthusiasm to the mission of any non-profit organization. And some of these young people will come up with innovative solutions to community problems.
Research shows that service requirements benefit students in a host of welcome ways:
• Students who participate in community service are 25 percent more likely to graduate from college.
• Students who volunteer just one hour a week are 50 percent less likely to abuse drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.
Youth who serve develop social and civic responsibility and are more likely to:
• Become lifelong volunteers
• Participate as active citizens
In addition service learning (volunteering) motivates students to achieve and helps them develop leadership skills and self-confidence. Students find mentors or career interests, encounter new worlds, enhance their resumes making them more attractive to potential employers and resulting in improved chances of being accepted into the most competitive colleges.
Go to www.youthvolunteerorganization.org for more information on youth volunteer opportunities5