“Thanks Mom!” is a common phrase yelled as kids run out of the front door of the house or jump out of the carpool mini-van to their sports practice, but how many times do we really take the time to thank our mothers for their love and support? With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, we at Nevada Volunteers wanted to take a moment to thank mothers for their 24/7 support, constant unconditional love, and for being the little voice in the back of our heads when we know we should be doing something differently.
Mothers are incredible, balancing the needs of children and life from jobs to carpool to sporting events, and even volunteering. We aren’t the only ones that think so either…
According to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America Report, in 2011, nearly 4 out every 10 working mother volunteered! If some of the busiest Americans can find the time to give back, we think that the rest of us Americans can find the time too. Not only are working mothers key to parent volunteerism (Dads, we aren’t counting you out!), but they are among the new volunteer epidemic of supporting youth organizations through fundraising, food services for those less fortunate, mentoring, tutoring and teaching. So much support that over 40% of the time parents spend volunteering, is spent volunteering in an educational or supportive organization. Absolutely amazing!
So this Mother’s Day, while a bouquet of flowers might be nice, why don’t you spend some quality time with your mom volunteering for her favorite cause? We’re pretty sure she’d appreciate that more. To find a volunteer opportunity near you, visit www.nevadavolunteers.org.
And, above all, give a heartfelt thank you to your mother for her constant juggling act and support at the same time!
Recognizing the power of National Service, mayors across the nation will be coming together in these next couple weeks to celebrate the impact that National Service members are making in their communities. Mayors will hold public events, issue proclamations, and share through different media sources their commitment to National Service. Although the official day is April 9, 2013, Nevada started early in celebrating the instrumental National Service members in Fallon, Nevada today.
Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) members spent the morning hearing Mayor Tedford thank them for their service and commitment to the community of Fallon. In 2012, RSVP members made a huge impact in the rural town. They provided services that gifted Churchill County, $76,328 including:
- 198 seniors received 136 hours of RSVP care law pro-bono legal assistance.
- 294 hours of respite care services provided to 6 Fallon caregivers and family members.
- 10 home bound seniors were provided 63 hours of companionship and supportive services in their homes.
- 245 low-income seniors were assisted with RSVP services to help maintain them in their own homes by RSVP volunteers providing independent living services.
- 34 senior volunteers gave 541 hours of their time in Churchill County to help others this year.
- Approximately, 1,000 people were served 50,412 pounds of USDA Commodity Foods that were distributed by RSVP Volunteers.
- 350 seniors received Farmer’s Market Coupons to redeem fresh fruits and vegetables.
Thank you to Mayor Ken Tedford for recognizing the amazing services National Service members provide to your city! We are excited to share with you this next week how mayors throughout Nevada appreciate the role that National Service members have in their communities.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Environmental Studies in the spring of 2010 and not wanting to just jump right into a career, Ben Nicklay looked for a way to gain experience in the field. He searched through numerous AmeriCorps positions and found an opportunity to serve through the Great Basin Institute Nevada Conservation Corps that would allow him to travel and work in the unique outdoors of Nevada.
Ben became an AmeriCorps*State member with the Nevada Conservation Corps and was put on a crew of about ten others outside of the Las Vegas office. His crew consisted of people who had never camped before, people who had majored in English in college, to those who had worked in other conservation corps. Despite all of their differences, they bonded fairly quickly. While on the crew, Ben helped build and maintain trails in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. It gave him pride in knowing that his hard work would last for years to come. They worked on a variety of other projects around southern Nevada until spring including riparian restoration, habitat improvement, road decommissioning, and invasive species removal.
Ben’s favorite part of his service were the friendships that were formed and the personal growth that followed. It was a unique experience having to camp in the field while working and living with the same people four days at a time.
Ben learned the importance of working hard and creating quality work. It was his year in the AmeriCorps program that made these principles to live by. He was part of creating a legacy that would last for years.
After his year of service, Ben stayed on with the Nevada Conservation Corps as a supervisor of a crew. His experience was rewarded by enhancing the experience of a new group of volunteers by sharing my knowledge, skills, and passion with them.
In the fall, he decided to try a different side of conservation work and took a Great Basin Institute Research Associate position as a Restoration Specialist contracted to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He was able to take the knowledge and skills he learned from my experiences in the Nevada Conservation Corps to use supervising the restoration work for all of Clark County, Nevada. He monitors old restoration sites and implements new projects in disturbed or destroyed habitats. He still gets to connect and share experiences with the Nevada Conservation Corps crews because they do the initial group work.
Ben is not quite sure he found his career, but he knows for sure that he has found his passion. Doing conservation work and sharing his enthusiasm for it with others is very rewarding and he plans on staying in this line of work. Down the road he sees himself focusing more on the larger picture and studying sustainability, water, food, and energy issues.
Through his year in AmeriCorps, he learned more about himself and gained so many new and relevant skills. Some of the important things he learned the meaning of a great and inspiring leader, the value of physical labor, the importance of quality work, and the worth of good friends. The people he met and friendships he made will also continue to be great resources long into the future.
Ben’s advise if you were looking at joining National Service would be to allow yourself to grow and develop a deeper sense of self. Not only does joining National Service provide a great service to the people of this country, but it will most likely be one of the most rewarding things you will ever undertake in this life.
To find out for about AmeriCorps in Nevada, visit www.nevadavolunteers.org.
As an AmeriCorps*State members, Jessica served as a Naturalist for Nevada Outdoor School, a nonprofit located in Winnemucca that strives to inspire exploration of the natural world and responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to the community. Jessica taught inquiry-based lessons to K-6 classrooms in Winnemucca and K-8 classrooms in the rural schools of Humboldt County, as well as planned and executed field trips, eco-camp, and summer camps.
Not only did Jessica find her confidence in planning and executing community and education events, she found her passion for teaching young children outside the walls of formal education. After a year of service, Jessica moved to North Carolina to use her enhanced teaching skills in a fifth grade classroom. It was the relationships and connections that called her back to her former host site, where she returned to become part of the Nevada Outdoor School staff as the Director of Programming.
Jessica plans to use her education award to further her education in the near future and would recommend to anyone thinking about the National Service family to just do it!
For more information on how to become an AmeriCorps member or get involved as AmeriCorps Alum, visit www.nevadavolunteers.org.
Nevada Volunteers strongly stands behind the AmeriCorps program and the way that it can impact a member’s life. Members are impacting our Nevada communities through helping high school students graduate and pursue higher education, mentoring at-risk youth, recruiting volunteers for local nonprofits, reducing fire fuel throughout the state, and feeding those in need. Alongside members making an impact in the communities through nonprofits, the program is also making an impact in the members’ lives. AmeriCorps helps members find their passion, gives them work experience, and shows them the importance of volunteerism.
Believing that AmeriCorps is a powerful pathway opportunity, we enlisted the help of Tanner Productions to help share the testimonies of AmeriCorps members throughout Nevada. Hear what they have to say about the AmeriCorps program and how to get involved today!
During AmeriCorps Week 2013, it is Nevada Volunteers’ privilege to share the stories of AmeriCorps members throughout Nevada. We hope that you’ll enjoy them and get a glimpse into why AmeriCorps members continue to serve multiple terms, how AmeriCorps helped them determine their pathway, and what an impact they are making in our Nevada communities!
Thank you to Ken Tran at AmeriCorps Alums and Brandon Greene (Janet’s son) for sharing the story of Janet Hughes, an AmeriCorps member serving her fourth term through the United Way of Southern Nevada.
I worked for the Clark County School District for 34 years as a classroom teacher, ESL instructor, Reading Specialist, after school tutor, and Speech Pathologist. After my first year of retirement, my son Brandon Greene, called me excited about starting his year of service of as an AmeriCorps member and encouraged me to also serve as an AmeriCorps member. I went online to the AmeriCorps website, and applied after discovering that there was a position available at Desert Rose Adult High School with Dr. Sandra Ransel.
I applied for this position because I had worked with Dr. Ransel before as an evening English as a Second Language teacher (ESL) and it offered the chance to work with high school students and adults who were working on obtaining their high school diploma or GED. It also afforded me the opportunity to work in a school setting not as a teacher but as part of the Ready for Life Center at Desert Rose High School as the Coordinator.
This appealed to me because I could indirectly have an impact and make a difference in another person’s life by helping them to overcome some of the barriers which had contributed to their being unable to complete their education. I have continued to serve as an AmeriCorps member at Desert Rose because I continually see the potential of others if they’re offered the help they need.
During my service, I’ve been able to see many students overcome their challenges to succeed. I have seen a homeless student find shelter in a center which not only provided shelter but also transportation to and from school, job training, social skills, and tutoring. This student passed their proficiency exams and graduated!
Another student was hungry and able to come to the One Stop Center on a weekly basis to pick up a bag of food for the weekend. Today an adult student needed a copy of her marriage certificate in order to get her NV identification card; she explained that she was just learning to read and asked if I could help. To her, learning to read would make a difference in her life. I helped her go online to order a copy of the document she needed as well as provide some reading materials that I had used when teaching reading in an elementary school.
I have continued to serve as an AmeriCorps member because every time I have been able to help someone overcome a barrier which was impeding them from reaching their dreams, I feel a deep sense of thankfulness that I was able to make a real difference in their life. Sometimes the difference was simply just listening to their story and letting them know that someone cared. I have served because:
There is no better exercise for your heart,
Than reaching down and helping to lift someone up.
Brandon Greene engaged in AmeriCorps to help in his community before leaving for law school. As a part of his service, he created a truancy prevention program working the UNLV Gear Up at Western High School. His decision to work with kids in a high school was inspired by his mother who was a teacher. The best part of his AmeriCorps service was being able to get a group of students reengaged in school. He also made friends for life through the benefit of being part of a national network. To this day, Brandon has focused on the advocacy and policy efforts in law school on educational issues and will continue to do so upon graduation. He’s inspired by his service and by his mother Janet Hughes, who at the time of his law school graduation will be completing her fourth year of service.
Governor Brian Sandoval revealed this year’s recipients on Friday, January 18th, during the Governor’s Points of Light Awards luncheon, which was held in conjunction with the Volunteer and Corporate Engagement Summit. Nevada Volunteers is proud to be able to recognize some of the inspiring and incredible volunteer efforts that are happening in the Silver State!
Southern Nevada Individual: Raquel O’Neill
Though she has no sight, she certainly has a vision. There seem to be no barriers to Raquel O’Neill’s mission to make a difference in her community. She is a new mother, she works fulltime with university students with disabilities, she mentors blind youth, and she works tirelessly to empower Nevadans with vision loss. Raquel identified a gap in services for blind and visually impaired youth. She set out to fill the unmet needs for training by enlisting volunteers to help. She developed and implemented a 60-hour blindness skills training program for youth ages 15-20. The program provides intensive training in daily living skills, cane travel, communication, Braille, and advocacy, and is the only one like it in Nevada. By utilizing skilled volunteers and those who live with vision loss, she is able to provide this program at no charge to the participants.
Northern Nevada Individual: Christina Thomas
Christina Thomas has been an Ambassador for “Americans for Indian Opportunity” and is the first Nevadan to be selected for “Up With People”. Additionally, she became the youngest person on her Tribe’s Language Advisory Board for Reno-Spark Indian Colony; the youngest teacher of the Paiute Language for Washoe County School District; and the youngest person to be featured as an emerging leader at the Pyramid Lake Cultural Museum. She founded the youth group Native Butterflies and makes public appearances promoting the dying culture of her people – The Northern Paiute Native American Tribe. She shares her talents, resources and intellect to bring about positive change and will continue to work towards preserving the language, customs and culture of her people.
Rural Nevada Individual: Fern Payne
Mrs. Fern Payne has run the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in the rural area of Pahrump, Nevada for more than 15 years. In 2007, 64% of taxpayers in the City of Pahrump were low income. This is the population that Fern and the volunteers she recruited, assisted with income tax preparation for free. Now in her 80′s she continues to train, prepare returns and conduct quality review of all tax returns in the City of Pahrump. Fern is of great help, year after year, to low income and elderly taxpayers in the preparation of their tax returns.
Volunteer Manager: Dustin Rains
Dustin has volunteered over 3,000 hours within the past 3 years for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. He works at the Ethiopian Community Development Council African Community Center as Resource Developer and Volunteer Manager. The ECDC African Community Center re-settles refugees from about 10 different countries all over the world. The clients in Southern Nevada have been in refugee camps for an average of 5-7 years prior to arriving in the US. Members of the community are paired up with a refugee individual or a family, one that speaks the opposite language. They teach clients everyday tasks by showing them, being compassionate, and understanding their needs and wants by non-verbal communication. Dustin is a shining example of a volunteer manager in this city, always assisting our community in any way that he can.
Nonprofit/Community Organization: R&R Partners Foundation
In 2010, Bullying was a growing trend nationwide. Children who are different in any way were being singled out for physical and mental abuse and an alarming number were taking their own lives. Researchers report that 77% of all children say they have been bullied and 20% admit to bullying another child. R & R Partners Foundation pledged to reverse this trend in Nevada and from this grew a statewide anti-bullying campaign “Flip the Script.” The goal was to literally “flip the script” on bullying by: empowering bullied students and bystanders who are often hesitant to step in; assisting parents who need tools to identify the warning signs; and helping educators to recognize bullying behavior and provide leadership to eradicate it. They launched a state-wide PR campaign involving student leaders, parents, government and community leaders. The “Flip the Script” Web site provides a strong educational presence and anti-bullying curriculum has been incorporated into schools across Nevada.
Corporate/Business Volunteer Program: MGM Resorts International
The MGM Resorts Employee Volunteer Program was created to share the passion and talents of its employees with local nonprofit organizations serving the community’s critical unmet needs. The Volunteer Program has connected thousands of employee volunteers to charities and causes they are passionate about. To facilitate volunteerism, MGM Resorts installed VolunteerMatch, the online system designed to connect employees with causes located in their respective communities. Employees have logged more than 80,000 volunteer hours and have helped more than 820 nonprofit agencies meet community needs. In addition to encouraging employees to volunteer on an individual basis, MGM Resorts also organizes company wide volunteer campaigns to promote volunteerism . The campaigns’ goals are to rally the Company’s 62,000 employees around one cause, all at one time, and create lasting positive change in our communities.
Nevada Volunteers couldn’t be more proud of the hard work each of these recipients are doing to build better communities in Nevada. Congratulations to all of them!