Archive for September, 2011

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VISTA Spotlight: Red Cross Rebekah!

September 14, 2011

Rebekah Hamby, VISTA

September is National Preparedness Month, so it seems fitting that the VISTA spotlight should shine brightest on our member over at the Southern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross, Miss Rebekah Hamby!   The Red Cross not only provides relief to victims of disaster, but also helps people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. 

For two years, Rebekah has worked in the Health and Safety department at the Las Vegas branch of this national nonprofit juggernaut.  She maintained contacts with Red Cross clients in various organizations and businesses, scheduling periodic CPR/AED and First Aid courses.  She even helped train over 500 individuals at the Thomas and Mack Center last spring on Super CPR Saturday!  That’s a lot of chest compressions!  Rebekah also helped some of her clients set up their own training teams with their own instructors, allowing the mission and message of the Red Cross to spread further and wider. 

During her time at the organization, Rebekah realized how essential CPR/AED and First Aid training is in preparing for life’s everyday emergencies as well as for natural and national disasters.   However, Rebekah is quick to point out that “people who are trained in CPR/AED and First Aid courses are taught not to take the place of emergency medical personal, but to be the first people to respond and give treatment until trained personal arrive.”

In conjunction with her emergency response trainings, Rebekah was also able to co-instruct babysitting courses.  She said, “It’s been an enjoyable experience working with young people and being there to teach eleven to fifteen-year-olds how to start their own babysitting business, how to take care of children, and what to do if there is an emergency.”

Rebekah is just finishing up her second year in the AmeriCorps VISTA program.  She plans to stay in Las Vegas and continue to volunteer for the American Red Cross.  She’s also looking into graduate programs in Creative Writing.  We wish her luck in all her future endeavors and are quite sure she’ll have many stories to tell about VISTA, the Red Cross, and Las Vegas!

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Introducing HandsOn Nevada’s Newest Volunteers!

September 14, 2011

by Tiegen Kosiak

On September 6th the staff at HandsOn Nevada welcomed our brand new crop of AmeriCorps VISTA members to Las Vegas!  VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America, and these six people from across the United States have pledged to spend one year of their lives actively fighting poverty.  Though their stipend may be small, their hearts and talents are huge! 

Jeannie came to us from Hawaii and will be working with Junior Acheivement, Naveld is a Las Vegas native doing Hispanic outreach for the Boy Scouts, Paul is a San Francisco transplant facilitating performing arts programs for the intellectually disabled at Opportunity Village, Lisa of Long Island is “helping people help themselves” at HELP of Southern Nevada, Emily will be holding trainings out at all the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Tanerica from Atlanta is teaching our community how to Earn It Keep It Save It with the United Way of Southern Nevada. 

Over thirty-seven million Americans live in poverty, so our new VISTAs will no doubt be very busy this year.  However, they will find some time to share their stories in this newsletter and on our blog.  We hope you will follow along with their highs and lows, which will hopefully help us all better understand what it takes to truly make a difference!

For more information on VISTA and other AmeriCorps programs, please visit www.americorps.gov.

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To Tweet, or Not to Tweet

September 14, 2011

By Tiegen Kosiak

At my previous nonprofit organization in Alabama, we rarely checked our email.  Well, we did, a little bit, to correspond with partner agencies and donors and whatnot, but none of our clients used it, proper email that is.  You see, our clients were high school students that slept with their smart phones as if they were stuffed animals.    These students loved to volunteer, but they hated dedicating the time to checking an actual email account.  However, they were, currently are, and will continue to become more addicted to Facebook and Twitter, the social media sites that have blown up in our instant gratification, short attention span culture.

According to Tim Elmore, author of Habitudes and Generation iY, Millennials—people born between 1984 and 2002—are the country’s largest growing volunteer base.  These young people love to be involved with causes that “make a difference” even if it just involves buying a pair of shoes.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the awesome growth of the seemingly nonprofit company TOMS Shoes, which in fact does turn an incredible profit from kids that want to help other kids by wearing trendy footwear.

However, Millennials aren’t just into volunteerism for appearance sake.  They believe in it, and they’re good at it!  They’re strong-backed, energetic, technologically savvy, and idealistic, which makes them perfect for volunteer opportunities many adults are far too jaded and/or overworked to accept.

So how do you reach this wellspring of volunteer power?  You open a Twitter account and link it to your Facebook!  You @EveryoneYouKnow and become really familiar with #hashtags.  You keep things short and sweet, and you provide a lot of links.  It’s important to make it easy for people to follow along so that they, in turn, follow through with volunteerism, board participation, etc. 

And trust, this campaign isn’t only for those under twenty-seven.  Where youth goes, the masses will follow; they have to.  The Millennial generation challenges the Baby Boomers in size, so to stay in touch with our changing economy and our booming technology, we must adapt to this emerging workforce that, as I said earlier, is obsessed with Twitter and Facebook! #andthatsafact

For a great book on how to best utilize your social media sites, check out The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith (with Carlyle Adler

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Featured Partner Organization – Helping Hands of Vegas Valley

September 14, 2011

Stephanie Lowrey, Volunteer Coordinator Helping Hands of Vegas Valley

As I settle into my role as the Volunteer Coordinator at Helping Hands of Vegas Valley, I am more enthusiastic than ever. My volunteers always give me such joy. I used to think that I was allowed to witness the growth of my volunteers but really they are the ones that inspire me to grow. There is an ugly truth that Nevada has one of the lowest volunteerism rates in the nation. I try to turn this into a positive statistic, as a way to challenge people to commit to a cause. HHOVV’s purpose is humbling; imagine working your entire life only to find yourself struggling in your retirement in need of food, companionship or transportation. Our volunteers whole-heartedly believe in bettering the life of a homebound senior. As we build our program, I feel lucky to be a part of an organization that is truly innovative. The Executive Director and staff are working hard to bring about progressive change and new diversification to HHOVV. It is exciting to be a part of this organization with its energy and growth. Every day, this agency has given me a sense of empowerment to challenge myself. I get to find creative ways to recruit, retain, and manage our volunteers. We have a great community here in Las Vegas, with the help of organizations such as Hands on Nevada, I get to witness the heart of it!