Archive for December, 2010

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Santa Claus WAS in Town! (Town Square that is…)

December 13, 2010

Looking at Town Square from the freeway, the sight appeared monotonous.  However, I already knew that wasn’t the case.  As my son, two friends who made the trek from California and I pulled into the parking lot, we saw a family, all of which were dressed as Santa Claus.  I turned around and saw another family, this one with a dog, all of whom were also dressed as Santa Claus.  We got out of our vehicle and raced to the congregation area to check in and retrieve our own Santa Claus costumes.  Ah, The Great Las Vegas Santa Run had finally arrived!

The Great Las Vegas Santa Run is an annual event hosted by Opportunity Village.  The event is simple.  You can either participate in a 5K run or a 1-mile walk.  Nothing strenuous, just a fun run.  Local bands entertained the crowd and Mayor Goodman offered words of praise to the organization and words of encouragement to the participants.  The Fox 5 News team was present to air from the event and kick the run itself off.

We chose to partake in the 5K course.  The course was simple; three 1-mile loops around Town Square wearing a Santa Claus costume.  As an added bonus, participants have the opportunity to register with the Guinness Book of World Records in an attempt to dethrone the Irish for the “largest gathering of Santa Claus” held since 2007.  Our Santa’s came in all sizes from adults to infant children.  The courses are also easy enough for children to be pushed along in strollers throughout the course.

Overall, the event was a great one.  Simply put, it’s a gathering of individuals in a fun, festive environment who are dedicated to helping change the lives of Opportunity Village’s clients.  The primary idea behind the event is to raise money and awareness for the programs offered by the not-for-profit organization.  Opportunity Village focuses their efforts on those with intellectual disabilities.  They provide vocational rehabilitation, social events, and employment services for thousands of clients annually while fulfilling the clients’ sense of belonging within the greater community.

~ Jason

If you’re interested in volunteering with Opportunity Village click HERE for a list of their available opportunities.

Also don’t miss out on Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest:

The Magical Forest is celebrating its 19th year of providing holiday joy to the Las Vegas community. More than 150,000 people visit the Forest every year, basking in the glow of more than three million lights on hundreds of decorated trees, riding the Forest Express passenger train, taking a spin on the Carousel and visiting with the Man in Red himself.

Click HERE for more details, directions and to see some pictures.  Bring your family and friends and check out this annual tradition.

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Homelessness is a circumstance, not a choice

December 10, 2010

“I have a [college] degree, but so do thousands of others in this city. What I don’t have is a job; therefore, I don’t have income and now I don’t have a house.”

This is just one of the many stories I heard during the Project Homeless Connect event on November 10. Listening to this one client’s story helped me realize that I could be the next homeless person receiving services, rather than the next volunteer in line to escort this client to her destination to receive service. Walking around Cashman Center and seeing all of the businesses and organizations that came out to help was an overwhelming experience. There were quite a few services provided that day, including: dental, cosmetology, social services, free clothing, food, health… the list goes on and on.

I had the awesome pleasure of working with the volunteers, clients and service providers, so I was able to gain a much greater understanding and appreciation for the event and what inspired everyone to come out. Stories on how people became homeless, stories from volunteers regarding how they feel that they might be next because they have been unemployed for months and stories from service providers how this is a passion and why they are in the field they’re in, which is to help whoever they can, whenever they can.

My story… my volunteer experience started as a job requirement and quickly became a reality check. No one is untouchable. Homelessness is ignorant and blind. Homelessness does not know gender, age, ethnicity or heritage. However, homelessness is only someone’s situation, it is NOT who they are. Out of all the stories I heard, not once did I hear someone say they chose to be homeless. Homelessness is just a circumstance that happened to the hundreds of people served that day.

The overall volunteer experience was extremely worthwhile and I would encourage any and everyone to volunteer in some capacity. By doing something as small as donating one clothing item that you no longer wear to someone in need, spending time at nursing home or cleaning your neighborhood park, you are making a big difference in someone’s life.

A big thanks to our guest blogger Kalah who is also participating as an AmeriCorps VISTA member.  Kalah was a part of the Volunteer Center team checking in volunteers for the Project Homeless Connect event.  We hope she’ll share more of her experiences with us here so check back to see what new adventures are happening in southern Nevada!

If you are interested in sharing your time and talents in a way that can benefit the homeless click HERE to see the opportunities that are currently available.

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Learn a New Skill = Help Those in Need!

December 6, 2010
Ever wanted to learn how to prepare those pesky IRS tax returns? 
Are you free to help families between January and April 2011? 
Do you enjoy volunteering in diverse environments? 

If you answered YES to any of those questions come to the Earn It Keep It Save It Open house! Learn about the program and the exciting volunteer opportunities we have available during the tax season. All of your questions will be answered by Earn It Keep It Save It Collaborative members and you can choose your training date and time on site!

Returning volunteers are encouraged to come and share their experience with new volunteers.  Fantastic prizes will be raffled off to returning volunteers who attend the open house AND bring a potential new volunteer. 

Help make a difference this tax season! See you at the Open House.

For more info and to sign up to attend visit our homepage at www.VolunteerCenterSN.org.
You can also download a printable flier with all the details HERE.