Archive for December, 2011

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Engaging Nevada’s Next Generation

December 9, 2011

Are you in high school?  Do you love to volunteer?  Would you like become a leader in your community?

Bank of America encourages juniors and seniors with a passion for improving communities to apply for the Bank of America Student Leader program.  Student Leaders participate in an eight-week paid internship, and receive an all expense paid week-long trip to the Student Leadership Summit in Washington DC to gain valuable civic, social, and business leadership skills. To learn more about this program or to apply, visit the Bank of America Student Leader website.

Young people interested in this program will be pleased to know that United Way of Southern Nevada has it’s own way of recognizing outstanding Student Leaders.  NGAGE (Next Generation Actively Gaining Experience) is a new program that promotes volunteerism and recognizes students for giving back.

Freshman through seniors are encouraged to participate in NGAGE.  A recognition event will be held on May 2, 2012 at Fashion Show Mall.  For more information on the program or to print a service timesheet, click here.

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Tech Success: New and Improved!

December 8, 2011
Last month United Way of Southern Nevada’s Volunteer Center launched our new website. This website, powered by HandsOn Connect, will provide volunteers with an easier way to find out about volunteer opportunities in southern Nevada. If you have not already done so, please visit the new site at http://www.VolunteerCenterSN.org.
Even though we’ve updated our website, if you had an account before, you will still have an account now. If you have not visited the new and improved UWSN Volunteer Center website, you will need to reset your password before you can login. To reset your password, click the “Login” button at the top right corner of the page. Enter the email address that is associated with your account and select “Forgot Password?” You will then receive an email with instructions on how to login to the new website.

Next month we will be kicking off our Volunteer Leader Institute (VLI), which is designed for volunteers who would like to become leaders of service projects. Stay tuned to our website and social media for more information regarding those dates.

If you have issues with the new website, please visit the FAQ section or contact the Volunteer Center at (702) 892-2300.

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VISTA Spotlight: The Greatest Opportunity

December 6, 2011

The holiday season is in full swing and nonprofit organizations all over the city are sending out calls for volunteers. One of these nonprofits, Opportunity Village, is famous for its Magical Forest, but will soon become well-known for it’s incredible performing arts program. Paul Garlin, an AmeriCorps VISTA member, is serving as the Office Assistant to Krysti Gabriel, the enthusiastic, dedicated director of Opportunity Village’s performing arts program.

Though Paul is not a native of Las Vegas, he has lived in the city for a number of years and wanted to give back to his community.   Before hearing about his current AmeriCorps position, Paul planned to volunteer at Opportunity Village. He was so impressed by their work in the community and overwhelmed by how many programs they offered including Job Discovery for high school special education students, Art Enrichment, Document Destruction, Vocational Assessment, Retail and Custodial Training, and more. Opportunity Village also provides services for people with more complex disabilities through their community-based habilitation programs. “I feel the most important thing that Opportunity Village does is help people to be as independent as possible,” Paul said. “By giving individuals the chance to learn, grow, and become productive, Opportunity Village not only helps them achieve their dreams, but also allows the community to see what they are capable of.”

Though they already do so many wonderful things, Opportunity Village continues to expand. Thanks to the acquisition of an impressive grant, the V.I.A. (Very Important Arts) program now provides fine art, dance, music, & theatre classes at not cost to students, ages 6 to 17, in Clark County school special education classes. Also, funds are being raised to build an innovative Life Learning Park for Clark County citizens with disabilities. The park will offer life and social skill training programs for children and adults as well as serve as a wonderful venue for family respite. Construction begins in 2012.

“Every minute at Opportunity Village is priceless,” Paul said. “When an individual with a disability greets me or thanks me, I know that I am truly lucky. To them, I am a hero, but in reality, every person served by Opportunity Village is a hero to me. Having the opportunity to share this time with them is truly life changing.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

(Photo: student artist Rosie Scalf with her outline on canvas on the Las Vegas Strip. Passers-by filled in the outline with colors of their choosing. Paintings and scarves made by Art Enrichment participants can be purchased from $15 and up. Half of the proceeds go to the artist and the other half help keep the program running)

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Lessons on Giving

December 6, 2011

The holiday season is such a busy time for all.  Once the shopping has been done, the gifts are wrapped, and the cards have been mailed, take a moment and spend some quality time with your family by making the holiday season a little brighter for others.  Try some of these ideas and instill a lifetime love of service in your children:

  • Host a volunteering play-date over winter break. Instead of an outing to a park, host a community-focused activity such as making cards to deliver to nursing homes or sending care packages to soldiers.
  • Deliver a meal to a family in need; Helping Hands of Vegas Valley needs drivers to distribute food to seniors.
  • Start your own food, clothing, or toy drive. Collect items from your friends, family, co-workers, church groups, etc. and distribute to a charitable organization.
  • Invite an elderly neighbor to join your holiday celebration, or offer to sit and chat with them a while.
  • Gather a group and sing holiday carols to shut-ins or in shelters.
  • Choose a family to sponsor from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program and bring the kids shopping to choose gifts for the family you will be helping. As you wrap the presents, talk about all the things your family is thankful for.
  • Purchase $5 or $10 gift cards from a grocery store or fast food restaurant and deliver them to the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth’s plastic food drive.
  • Decorate three jars: one for saving, one for spending, and one for giving. Ask your children to deposit their spare change equally among the jars over the next year. Ask them to choose an organization to donate their giving jar to.
  • Visit a charity that you have supported so that your children see where the money goes. Take a tour and bring the whole family.
  • Show how your efforts are making a difference. Create a scrapbook of your family’s volunteer and philanthropic experiences.