Archive for November, 2012

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View from VISTA: Erica at Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth

November 28, 2012

Name: Erica Harmon

Hometown: North Branch, Michigan

Host Site: Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth

What is your favorite aspect of your AmeriCorps VISTA position? I absolutely love working for an organization that has such a strong focus on youth, and tailors all of its programming to the youth it serves. All of the staff, not only the case managers, but also the Executive Director and office support, is extremely passionate about helping every person who walks through the door, regardless if they qualify for services at our facility or not. It’s awesome to be part of a team that takes such a creative approach to solving the problem of youth homelessness.

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving? NPHY has a very awesome direct service opportunity that recurs every Friday, called Feel Good Friday. It’s an opportunity to actually go out into the community and pass out needs items to homeless and at-risk youth. It’s a great way to actually volunteer and come face-to-face with the people that are benefitting from your service. If direct service isn’t your thing, we also have PB&J Thursdays every week, where volunteers put together sack lunches that we then distribute at Feel Good Friday.

Tell us about what has influenced your decision to work with the nonprofit and/or become a VISTA? After I received my Bachelor’s Degree in spring 2009, I decided to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in School Psychology. In my second semester of graduate school, I had an internship at a Head Start pre-school. While I was only required to attend 5 hours per week, I found that I would spend, on average, between 10-15 hours working with the teachers and kids. Needless to say, after that first year, I decided that my decision to attend graduate school probably wasn’t the best fit for my interests, and thus I began researching national service programs. It was a great decision! This year is my second as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and as a result, I have gained so much insight into how my passion to serve youth can translate into an enjoyable, fulfilling career.

If you’re new to Las Vegas, what are your first impressions of the community?  Are there any surprises? Having only been in Las Vegas since the end of August, I’m still figuring out the local scene. One thing that surprised me is how awesome the food trucks are! There are also a great many of wonderful restaurants off-Strip that are worth a visit. I try to eat at a new place every week, and stay away from the Strip as much as possible.

What is something you want people who don’t live in Las Vegas to know about this community?  There is an awesome flat-track roller derby team in Las Vegas, known as the Fabulous Sin City Roller Girls, which I joined upon moving to town. Check them out the next time you come to Las Vegas—they are a very unique and community-minded group of women!

Check out all the great things Erica and the entire NPHY team is doing by liking them on Facebook!

This is the seventh in a series profiling the 15 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving in Southern Nevada during the 2012-13 year.  For more information on AmeriCorps VISTA and national service opportunities in Southern Nevada, click here.

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United Way of Southern Nevada’s BE THE CHANGE Opportunity of the Week!

November 28, 2012

Project Homeless Connect (December 6th)

Project Homeless Connect is a collaborative effort connecting homeless families and individuals to services they need to get off the streets and into housing and jobs. Volunteers are needed to help individuals navigate the event.

Stocking Stuffer (December 8th)

Join Olive Crest to stuff stockings and wrap donated gifts for their youth clients this holiday season.  You’ll have a ball and your efforts will help ensure these deserving youth enjoy the magic of this holiday season.

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United Way of Southern Nevada’s BE THE CHANGE Opportunity of the Week!

November 21, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Time (Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth)

NPHY’s PB&J Thursday is a simple project that prepares sack lunches for our Outreach Team to distribute to homeless youth during our weekly Feel Good Friday event. Volunteers will make the sandwiches, then pack them with snacks into the sack lunches.

Caring Collectors (Salvation Army) (Weekends through the holidays)

This interactive outreach opportunity will help the Salvation Army collect food goods at Albertson’s on Flamingo and Hualapai! Donations will be assembled into Christmas baskets that will be distributed to needy families around Clark County.

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View from VISTA: Sara at Salvation Army

November 21, 2012

Name:  Sara Burns

Hometown: Born in Visalia, California raised in Sacramento, California

What is your favorite aspect about your AmeriCorps VISTA position? I love being hands on with people, activities, and events.

What’s one reason you think people should volunteer with the organization where you’re serving? I believe people should volunteer with The Salvation Army because we truly care about the individual that needs help. We are there for them in every aspect of their life be it spiritual, emotional, physical and/or mental. If there is a will, there is away and there is a program or service that can be utilized here at The Salvation Army. We are always looking for volunteers to help provide these services and keep us as America’s #1 charity.

What project or event are you really looking forward to this year and why? The project that I am really looking forward to is our Angel Tree Distribution on December 22nd. We will be servicing approximately 2,000 needy families in Clark County with approximately 6,000 gifts for their children (2 gifts per child per household). I am looking forward to this event because I want to see how our services are truly appreciated. I am looking forward to seeing how happy the residents of Clark County really are and to see the smiles and hear the thank you’s received on that day.

What is something that you’ve learned about the community since starting your VISTA term? I have been someone in the community that has needed help and felt that there was nobody to turn too. What I have learned is there are so many people that I never thought cared, but they really do care and actually give a lot of their time and money to make sure the “forgotten people” of people of Clark County are taken care of. I give them a lot of respect and thank them for their genuine and unconditional love for their community.

What is something you want people who don’t live in Las Vegas to know about this community? This is a small city with big city credit, whether you realize it or not. Everybody who went to school here seems to know each other, which is ridiculous!

What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about the cause?  I believe this could all be eliminated with less greed and people truly caring for one another. I guess peace on Earth, but it sounds like a dream. I think if people become more aware and start looking at the facts and putting them together instead of taking people at face value. That is when a real change will begin. I am doing a paper right now in my English 102 course and it is based on obedience. The paper’s focus is based on how people are forced to obey authority figures and authority figures actually get away with abuse because people don’t question them. I think people in poverty could really benefit from knowledge and that will be their way out.

Tell us about someone who has influenced your decision to work with the nonprofit and/or become a VISTA?  I am in poverty and sought help through Help of Southern Nevada. I asked the director how someone gets into her position. She pointed on her wall to a Certificate from AmeriCorps and said the application process should be closing in a few days; it was 2 days to be exact. I went online and applied, went through interviews and BAM! Here I am. I had this opportunity roll around last year and I messed it off because I was focused on needing help, that I forgot to help myself. When the opportunity came around the second time, I knew it was put in my path for a reason. Two months later that lady is no longer with Help of Southern Nevada.  She was there for a reason. Maybe right place, right time. I don’t know if she realizes how much her pointing to the certificate on her wall has changed my life, but I am truly thankful for her appearing in my life when she did. Thanks Kristi, you are literally a life saver.

This is the sixth in a series profiling the 15 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving in Southern Nevada during the 2012-13 year.  For more information on AmeriCorps VISTA and national service opportunities in Southern Nevada, click here.

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Celebrate Family Volunteer Day!

November 16, 2012

Grab your family members and make a difference this Saturday! November 17th is Family Volunteer Day! Family volunteering encourages the members of a family to volunteer as a unit. It can be done by the whole family together, by one parent and one child or teen, or with extended family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It can be as simple as creating cards for children in the hospital or as complex as bonding hundreds of families together in a day of service at a community park. However families choose to do it, families engaged in service can help mobilize thousands of new volunteers and instill in the next generation a lifelong commitment to volunteering.

Need some help getting started? Check out the GenerationOn website for ideas and resources: www.generationon.org and go to the United Way of Southern Nevada Volunteer Center website to find volunteer opportunities in our community!

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View from VISTA: Kathy at Clark County School District School-Community Partnership Program

November 15, 2012

Hi!  My name is Kathy Hamilton and I am a long-time resident of the Las Vegas Valley.  Living, working, and raising my kids here since 1996, I consider Las Vegas my hometown.  I love this community, its residents and all it has to offer!

My AmeriCorps VISTA position is with the Clark County School District School-Community Partnership Program.  What I love most about this position is that it matters.  It has a direct impact on the students of CCSD; the kids right here in our very own neighborhoods.  We partner local businesses with community schools to help meet the special needs of the students in those schools.  From supplies, to volunteers, to student incentives, to Mentors…we help make that happen and IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!

There are so many needs to be met, and not enough volunteers to meet all of those needs.  People of the Las Vegas Community should get involved and volunteer with the Partnership Program, whether as a Mentor in our Stay In School Mentoring Program, or a speaker in our PAYBAC program, or volunteering at one of the many curriculum focused events throughout the school year, so that the experience of these students can be enriched and to promote academic achievement.  IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!

I look forward to assisting in recruiting volunteers for our many events, programs and projects.  The opportunity to meet new people and share in the experience of giving back to the community through our students is a tremendous reward.

Even though I have lived in Las Vegas a long time there are two very important things I learned about our community since beginning my VISTA term.  First is the alarming number of children in our valley that do not have their basic needs met.  Second is the overwhelming generosity of the businesses, organizations, and individuals throughout the community.  THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

This is something that I think people outside of Las Vegas don’t know about us…we care about our community.  Casinos, corporations, small businesses, civic organization and clubs, houses of worship, families and individuals come together to build our community up; to make our community better.  WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Lead by an Advisory Council made up of a dynamic group of community and business leaders, the CCSD School-Community Partnership Program has been in existence since 1983, yet still remains one of the best-kept secrets of Southern Nevada.  The efficiency, caring, and humility of the staff here is second-to-none; never seeking praise or accolades.  I am grateful that my VISTA service has brought me to this program and honored to be a part of its continued success.

For more information on the programs offered or to find out how you can volunteer and MAKE A DIFFERENCE, please visit www.partnership.ccsd.net. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ClarkCountySchoolPartnership, and Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CCSDPartnership.

This is the fifth in a series profiling the 15 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving in Southern Nevada during the 2012-13 year.  For more information on AmeriCorps VISTA and national service opportunities in Southern Nevada, click here.

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Project Homeless Connect

November 13, 2012

Calling all volunteers!  Contribute to the community event that has been serving  Southern Nevada’s homeless population for the last 21 years.

Project Homeless Connect (PHC) is a resource fair for homeless individuals and families that convenes over 90 service providers and 700 volunteers to serve over 3,000 individuals.   This year, PHC is on Thursday,  December 6th at Cashman Center.

The resource fair focuses on serving those who are currently homeless and those at risk of homelessness by providing important services in one convenient location.  Past years have included service providers ranging from the area’s court systems and veterans’ services to hairstylists and veterinarians.

Volunteers are needed for morning, afternoon, and all-day shifts.  They will help out with various duties including client check-in, escorting clients between service providers, and assisting with giveaways and check-out.  This is a great opportunity for both individuals and groups to serve our community!

You can find more information and sign up to volunteer on the United Way of Southern Nevada’s Volunteer Center website: www.bit.ly/LasVegasPHC