November 20, 2013
The enormity of the human tragedy and pain caused by Typhoon Haiyan is splashed across every news site and TV. As we think about how we can help, there are several lessons we’ve learned from Hurricane Katrina, the South Asian Tsunami and the Haiti earthquake to remember. (more…)
November 19, 2013
Pine trees. Gilded glass ornaments. Big gold boxes wrapped with shiny red ribbons. The image of the holidays we have is one of people cozying up next to the fireplace stockings in their knitted reindeer sweaters with a plate of gingerbread cookies in one hand and a present in the other.
For most of us, our biggest worry is whether to buy the green scarf or the blue scarf for our mother-in-law, or which Lego kit was the one our son wanted. Yet for many others, presents are the last thing on their minds this holiday season – they’re just thinking about how to last the winter months with enough food and warm clothing.
November 19, 2013
Most of us reach a point in our careers where we need a new challenge. A little change once in a while spices up our lives and motivates our work. What better way to introduce change than to inspire change by serving on a nonprofit board? Nonprofit board members witness the social impact of their great causes while also offering advice, oversight and support. Read on to learn about an array of benefits that come with serving on a nonprofit board.
November 12, 2013
Typhoon Haiyan has left millions of families and children in need in the Philippines. As many as 2.5 million people require assistance. (more…)
October 30, 2013
“To be killed in war is not the worst that can happen. To be lost is not the worst that can happen… to be forgotten is the worse.” – Pierre Claeyssen
Image Provided by: Wreaths Across America
An important yet often-overlooked holiday is rapidly approaching. Veterans Day, a federal holiday honoring those who served in the United States Armed Forces, falls on November 11. But it tends to be neglected in the frenzy between Halloween and Thanksgiving. (more…)
October 10, 2013
David Bakke, a Money Crashers contributor, discusses strategies to save money and find ways to give back and make a difference.
When it comes to choosing the right charity, you’re going to want to do your homework. Because of recent economic struggles, Americans have less disposable income on-hand to donate to our favorite causes than we once did. This means that when you do donate, you want to make sure ever dollar counts. To make sure you direct your charitable dollars to the right place, follow these five tips… (more…)
October 9, 2013
#GivingTuesday is the brainchild of the 92nd Street Y, a nonprofits cultural and community center in New York. The idea is to inspire giving and help charities nation-wide. How? By creating a daylong national effort to help charities raise money online during the holiday shopping season – and do so right on the heals of Cyber Monday and Black Friday. This is a big deal for nonprofits as last year alone the movement drew donations to about 2,600 nonprofits. (more…)
September 5, 2013
By Brad Jamison: contributing writer and founder of Good Citizen.
Back-to-school time is an annual reminder of the many service opportunities we have to help ensure kids have a fun and productive school year.
While I find great joy in doing all sorts of service, one of the things that delights me the most and provides enormous satisfaction is working with a nonprofit that benefits kids. In fact, last year, when I conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days – I spent nearly one-third of my time volunteering to help kids.
One of the most exhausting, yet rewarding, days of my thirty came when I volunteered with KaBOOM!. On that 90 degree day, I joined 200 others to build a new playground for the kids of an LA-area community. When we arrived at the site there was nothing to be seen other than a vacant space where an old dilapidated playground once stood and a sea of people eager to help. But, when we left there was a gorgeous, safe place for kids to play. It reminded me of the types of play space I was fortunate enough to grow up with, which is why I love doing these builds.
It is on a day like this, one when strangers come together with a common goal that I am reminded of the truth in one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” On that day, we changed the world for the kids in this community.
Another thing I love about service is seeing the impact I have on the person I am helping. One place that happens for me, over and over, is at the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. I have been on the Board of the Club for more than four years, a role that brings me great joy and satisfaction. But, from time to time, I also volunteer with them in other ways.
During my Thirty Days of Service, I spent an afternoon helping kids with their homework in the Club’s learning center, which is where I visibly witnessed the impact I was having. I was sitting working with a young man struggling with his math assignment, something I could relate to, as I was never a superstar when it came to math. As I tried to help him, offering up various ways he could approach the equation, he grew more and more frustrated and was nearly begging me to just give him the answer. Not one to give in too easily to the charms of sweet kids, I kept working with him when suddenly something I said clicked with him and he was able to arrive at the correct answer. That little moment felt like magic for both of us!
Speaking of magic, the folks at Playworks might not be magicians, but they are experts at transforming schools by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day. I have seen firsthand how their hands-on approach helps build self-esteem in kids through play in a positive, supportive and non-threatening environment. As a kid who was frequently teased and picked last in gym, I know how intimidating the playground can be and I wish Playworks had been around for me. The day I served with Playworks, I wrote the following in my blog, “Many of life’s lessons are learned on the playground and I am thrilled that these kids, and kids at other Playworks schools, have an opportunity to learn those lessons in a safe and supportive environment. For the kids, it might seem like it’s just playtime, but we adults know it’s much more than that.”
So, whether it’s helping a teacher or kid, playing or instructing, there are so many ways to give to our next generation of leaders. I hope that during this back-to-school season, you will join me in pledging to find a way to serve this school year and help ensure a bright future for all.
About the author
Brad Jamison is a pro-social marketing expert, speaker, writer, producer, service advocate, philanthropist and founder of Good Citizen. A volunteer since he was 8, last year Brad conducted Thirty Days of Service – 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 consecutive days, for which he was honored with the Daily Point of Light Award, which recognizes the power of the individual to spark change and improve the world.
See Brad live:
Below is a video of Brad on day 28 of his service with Kaboom. For more videos, click here.
August 1, 2013
The lazy summer days are slipping away and it’s almost time to head back to school! This school year, why not look into volunteerism as a new after school activity? Getting involved with volunteering at a young age encourages an compassionate and kind outlook on life, strengthens your work ethic, and can provide valuable work experience.
Whether you’re a parent and you want to teach your children what it means to give back to the community, or you’re a high school student looking for meaningful ways to fulfill your service hour requirements, follow our tips to find the best volunteer opportunities for youth.
1. Look for organizations that specifically recruit children and teenagers as volunteers.
Great examples of these organizations include:
Pebble Tossers matches kids and teens up with volunteer opportunities and provides information on the number of hours, age requirements, and descriptions of different projects. Browse their list to find a service project that most appeals to you.
Youthlinc empowers youth to volunteer locally and be mentored to lead international service projects in impoverished villages in Kenya, Mexico, Peru, and Thailand.
Youth Making a Difference involves teens in Leadership Service projects that travel on humanitarian expeditions to India.
2. Check out your local soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
Many soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters take on students to volunteer for a weekend or on a regular basis and often give service hours in exchange. Contact your local organizations and ask if you can lend a hand.
3. Help out at senior centers and hospitals.
Local senior centers are often looking for young volunteers to help teach computer literacy classes, work in the kitchens or offices, or just be there to talk to the seniors and get to know them as you keep them company. Some hospitals also recruit high school volunteers to organize children’s play activities in the waiting areas, act as hospital greeters, and staff the gift shop or assist in administrative duties.
4. Join a club!
Many international service organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs offer middle school and high school branches. Join your school’s Interact, Key Club, or Leo Club to find out about locally organized volunteer opportunities and to bond with other service-minded students. Some middle and high schools also partner with local elementary schools to provide volunteer tutoring services. Or look for service clubs outside of school, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Had a great volunteer experience and want to share your story? Want to search for more youth volunteer opportunities? Check out our website for more ways to get involved with the youth volunteer community!
June 28, 2013
Let July 4th inspire you to do social good this year! In the spirit of appreciating your independence and challenging yourself to uphold the equality and patriotism of this day, here are some ways to give back to the community and to the country.
The Hugs Project
1. Show our troops some love.
What better way to give back this Independence Day than by honoring the men and women who have fought for our freedom? Take a moment to appreciate and thank our troops all around the world for their dedicated service to our country. Send a care package to a soldier stationed in the Middle East through The Hugs Project or donate your gently used mp3 players or monetary contributions to The Silver Star Families of America, which funds and assists injured, ill, and dying troops.
Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children
2. Spend some time with your family…and help out another family in need.
National holidays are times when the whole family can relax and enjoy time together. Take some time to appreciate your family members, and to understand that there are countless other families that are struggling to find stability in their lives. Lend a helping hand to these families today, whether by inviting your neighbors to a backyard barbecue or making a donation to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children, which helps military and veteran families find positive change in times of crisis.
Project on Government Oversight
3. Celebrate your independence.
We celebrate Independence Day to commemorate the freedoms, rights, and opportunities established by our Founding Fathers that we still enjoy to this day. This year, resolve to stay informed about the decisions our government is making for us and stand up for your liberties. Look into organizations like the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan, independent nonprofit that champions government reform.
Civil War Trust
4. Educate yourself about the past to succeed in and inspire the future.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Mull over George Santayana’s words of wisdom while deciding how best to make a lasting impact this 4th of July. Preserve a vital part of America’s history with the Civil War Trust, an organization dedicated to preserving Civil War battlegrounds and educating the public about the important role these lands played in shaping our country. Support efforts to educate our next generation of leaders in a socially responsible way, such as Operation Understanding DC’s mission to build a community of young leaders who work to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination.
5. Volunteer to help with your local celebration.
Love the fireworks, parades, or picnics your town organizes every year for July 4th? This year start giving back at the local level and volunteer to help decorate, plan, or otherwise make your annual celebration a blast. Search your zip code on greatnonprofits.org to find charities and nonprofits close to home that may be hosting special Independence Day events or browse volunteermatch.com to find out what you can do to volunteer for your local festivities.