Archive for October, 2011

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Miracle League of Las Vegas

October 20, 2011

This month our Featured Partner is Miracle League Las Vegas.  Volunteering with Miracle League is a unique and rewarding experience, as volunteers motivate and assist physically challenged participants in playing non-competitive baseball.  To learn how to get involved, click here.

There is nothing more heartwarming than to see children playing the game that is America’s pastime. But for children facing serious physical and mental disabilities, that opportunity isn’t always the easiest to achieve. Baseball diamonds are not exactly designed with wheelchairs and crutches in mind. The Miracle League of Las Vegas removes these barriers and allows these special athletes to experience the joy of playing baseball.  By using custom-designed, rubberized surface field that accommodates wheelchairs and other assistive devices, Miracle League teams avoid the obstacles that arise from the natural grass fields used in conventional youth facilities.

In addition to playing the game, Miracle League helps its participants make new friends, build self-esteem and enjoy being treated just like other kids. Miracle League uses a “buddy” system — pairing each player with an able-bodied peer. The resultant bond is something that has to be seen to be believed.

The Miracle League of Las Vegas serves children ages 3 and up who live with any physical or intellectual disability. The program serves children from the entire Las Vegas Valley.  The players may not be able to run the bases or hit the ball as well as their healthy peers, but the dreams of baseball greatness now live at the Miracle League of Las Vegas.

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Lending a HELPing Hand

October 20, 2011

Last month, United Way bid farewell to three fantastic AmeriCorps VISTA members who had each completed two terms of service.  Last month you met Rebekah, a Nevada native who served at the American Red Cross.  However, not all our service members are local.  In fact, many of them come from the opposite side of the country…

Before she began her VISTA experience, Meagan Ho Ching was an eighteen-year-old full-time college student living and working in Boston, Massachusetts. She had spent summers with her extended family in Las Vegas for as long as she could remember, so when it came time to “find herself” she couldn’t think of a better place to do it. “A dear friend of mine suggested HELP of Southern Nevada as a site to apply to. As soon as I read their mission statement and researched some of their work in the community, I knew I wanted to be a part of such an amazing organization,” Meagan said.

Each holiday season HELP of Southern Nevada provides over 1,200 Thanksgiving meal baskets, adopts out 400 families, and supplies over 13,000 children with toys. The past two years Meagan took on the responsibility of raising turkeys and other Thanksgiving dinner staples for the meal baskets. “It was the most heart-touching thing to see local businesses, organizations, schools, and families band together and give, especially in an economy that would suggest otherwise.”

Meagan was able to organize over 100 food drives around the city. She saw elementary school children pool their allowances and offices give up coffee for a month just to donate a turkey, then watched as families, local leaders, volunteers, and HELP staff members all stood shoulder to shoulder sorting, packaging, and lifting the precious baskets. “The long hours all paid off with the first thank you from the first mother that came to retrieve her family’s turkey.”  Meagan personally took in all the vouchers for the baskets and saw firsthand the gratitude of over 1,200 families. She calls it indescribable: “We live in a remarkable community that when all odds are against us we seem to come out, not necessarily unscathed, but stronger and closer.”

The proud Nevadan recently relocated to Chelsea, Massachusetts and will be finishing her Liberal Arts degree with Harvard University Extension School. “I cannot explain how much my two-year tenure with VISTA has changed my life,” she said. “I left Massachusetts defeated and timid. I return a confident young professional. My VISTA experience shaped me into an individual that is more passionate and driven, but more importantly, involved.”

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Make A Difference Day 2011

October 20, 2011

Recognizing that there is strength in numbers, Albertsons and five of the largest non-profit organizations in southern Nevada are teaming up for the first time to help thousands of families throughout the city in the first annual “Southern Nevada Together” event. Food, clothing, household items, and toothbrushes will be collected in honor of National Make a Difference Day, Saturday October 22, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at all southern Nevada Albertsons stores. The Albertsons at Flamingo and Durango Drive will serve as the “Southern Nevada Together” headquarters. Non-profit partners (and the benefactors of the donated items) include Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, Goodwill of Southern Nevada, The Salvation Army, Three Square Food Bank and United Way of Southern Nevada. “We salute each of these southern Nevada non-profits for agreeing to work together,” said Albertsons Southern California Division President Sue Klug. “Collaborative efforts of this scale aren’t easy, but we’re thankful that each organization shares our vision to create an opportunity that has the potential to help so many.”

The southern Nevada community is urged to make donations of non-perishable food, gently used clothing and household items, and new toothbrushes that will be redistributed to local residents in need. At 2:30 p.m. elected officials and local celebrities will join the non-profits at the “Southern Nevada Together” headquarter Albertsons store (Flamingo and Durango) for a final donation weigh in. Throughout the day at that location donors are invited to participate in fun, family-oriented activities including live music, a BBQ and children’s games while making a difference for the community.

To find other volunteer opportunities for Make A Difference Day 2011, please visit volunteercentersn.org.