What should I be doing instead of this?
 
WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Katherine Newman 04.19.2016 11 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY, Get Involved at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Nonprofit Spotlight: May We Help

Patty Kempf was one of May We Help’s first clients before the organization really even existed. She had cerebral palsy and was having trouble turning the pages of the books she loved reading. Bill Wood agreed to help Kempf by designing something that would make reading easier for her. At the same time, Bill Dieseling was doing something similar for a member of his family. The two Bills were connected through a mutual friend and began to work together. Shortly after that they met Bill Sand and the idea for May We Help was born. The Bills began working together harmoniously and May We Help now has hundreds of completed projects and satisfied clients. The goal of May We Help is to make life easier for people with disabilities. They do this through technology, mechanical engineering, handy work, programming and problem solving. May We Help hopes to free people from their disabilities with these custom creations that will allow them to gain independence and pursue their passions. The organization designs unique devices for people with disabilities to meet the needs that are not being met by anything else on the market. Clients pitch to the organization what they are looking for, the team researches the idea and if nothing has been developed to meet the need, they accept the project. Beginning with design and then moving into building, the team is focused on the client and what will work for them. Volunteer: At May We Help there are 60 volunteers for every one staff member. “They are the heart and soul of our organization,” says Katy Collura, development director. “They truly are the glue that holds everything together.” There are many different opportunities to get involved with this organization, whether you want to design, build or work behind the scenes. “Our volunteers design and create custom solutions to free individuals with special needs,” Collura says. Technical volunteers develop the unique devices for clients. Most volunteers in this category are professionals or have a serious interest in product development. These volunteers hear the needs of the client and go from there. This is a very creative opportunity. There are resource volunteers who build and get to be hands-on with projects. This is a great place to start with May We Help because it is not a leadership position, but it gets into the action of product construction. A person with a lot of personality makes a great “first impressions” volunteer. In this role, volunteers take charge of the experiences of new volunteers and clients. Their job is to make sure everyone is comfortable, heading to the right place and introduced to the right people during monthly volunteer meetings and monthly work meetings. Follow-up volunteers make monthly visits to clients who have received their devices. This is a key role because May We Help wants to be sure what they build is working the way it was intended; they don't want to send someone home with a device that isn’t meeting their needs. The follow-up team receives feedback from clients about how their needs are, or aren’t, being met by their device. May We Help provides meals for around 40 people at all of their monthly meetings. Foodie volunteers are in charge of making sure the people eat. The organization reimburses the cost of food for the meals, but be prepared to cook for what feels like an army. One of the most important positions is the procurement volunteer. This role was designed to ensure the technical volunteers have the crucial materials they will need throughout the project. Procurement volunteers are responsible for meeting with potential material and service providers to build donor relationships. On the inside they work with the technical volunteers by helping them meet their needs. Sometimes that means contacting other volunteers for advice, checking what is in stock or contacting donors. This position is the bones of the operations and keeps the ball rolling forward. To become a volunteer, fill out the application online and someone will be in contact soon after. There is no hourly requirement — volunteers can make their own hours. The organization just asks that all projects are done in a timely manner. “In most cases we are the families last resort and they are counting on us to deliver,” Collura says. Donate: Monetary donations are crucial to the success of this nonprofit. Because each device is custom to the client, it is hard to know what materials will be needed for the next project. Business owners with available resources to help are encouraged to contact the procurement team about donating services or material. For more information and access to the volunteer application, visit maywehelp.org.
 
 
by Katherine Newman 04.15.2016 15 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Nonprofit Spotlight: Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones was founded in 1963 as a nonprofit organization to increase independence, improve lives and promote inclusion for children and adults with disabilities. There are four campuses in the Greater Cincinnati area serving close to 1,000 children and adults every year. The organization offers programs for people of all ages with many different abilities. The Summer Day Camp, Saturday Clubs, Overnight Staycations and Respites and the Sensory Needs Respite and Support Program are all ways for Stepping Stones to provide support, opportunity and education and to increase independence for participants and their families. Volunteer: “Our participants love to meet new people and the attention they receive from a volunteer makes them feel important and valued,” says Moira Grainger, marketing, board and community liaison at Stepping Stones. “Volunteers enhance our activities and programs by providing an added layer of respect, care, concern and enthusiasm for the daily goals our participants strive for.” All year there are opportunities for volunteers to work on special maintenance projects, like landscaping and painting. Stepping Stones can use volunteers on the weekends for the Saturday Kids Club and during Weekend Respites. There are also frequent fundraising events where a helping hand is always welcome. The Summer Day Camp is a program for children with a range of disabilities; it is also where the most volunteers are needed. In 2015 the camp served 455 children and utilized more than 800 volunteers. Summer camp runs Monday-Friday, June 6-Aug. 5. It is not required to be at camp every day of the week, but volunteers must commit to being there from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on the days they choose. This opportunity is open to people as young as 13. “We are fortunate to have compassionate and caring individuals who simply love the involvement with our participants, regardless of age,” Grainger says. Saturday Clubs are a time to celebrate the abilities of children and young adults that participate in the program. This weekend activity encourages friendships and social interaction and is a good opportunity for volunteering. Weekends Respites are for children with severe sensory needs. Since 2013, Stepping Stones along with its volunteers has been providing one-on-one attention for participants helping them learn social skills to take home with them. Volunteers that have experience working with people with disabilities or a background in special education are often placed in leadership roles, where they can share their experience with less experienced volunteers. Community groups are encouraged to volunteer at Stepping Stones. Business groups, boy and girl scout groups and school leadership programs are just a few types of groups that have already used the organization to engage in community service. “These groups will usually tackle a project such as landscaping or building something needed, sometimes a maintenance project, or setting up for a special event such as a group dance,” Grainger says.  When corporations visit, a lot of times they will host a special event, like a picnic, for the participants at Stepping Stones. To become a volunteer, start by filling out the online application. After a receiving a clean background check there is a training program. “The goal of the training is to ensure that all events ranging from needing a band aid to responding to a weather alert can be addressed in a safe and orderly manner,” Grainger says. During training new volunteers learn how to work with people who have disabilities, the appropriate terminology to use when communicate about disabilities and safety procedures. Stepping Stones hopes that all volunteers are willing to make a long-term commitment. “It makes the experience more rewarding for the participants and the volunteers,” Grainger says. Donate: Stepping Stones relies on financial donations to support their programs and activities. The materials they use change depending on the needs of the programs and participants. If you can’t donate time to Stepping Stones, the gift of money can provide financial aid for participants that can’t afford the programs. Register a Kroger Plus Card to earn cash rewards for Stepping Stones by enrolling in the Community Rewards Program, which gives a portion of every purchase to the chosen organization. Amazon Smile is a similar program that can be used to make donations. For more information on STEPPING STONES and access to the online volunteer application, visit steppingstonesohio.org.
 
 
by Katherine Newman 04.05.2016 25 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY at 12:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Nonprofit Spotlight: Women Helping Women

Women Helping Women is a nonprofit agency serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The organization was founded in 1973 to provide advocacy, support and safety to survivors. WHW serves around 12,000 people yearly between the two offices in Hamilton County and Butler County. One-on-one counseling, court advocacy, support groups and hospital accompaniment are just a few of the free services that are available. The education and prevention team gives presentations to business and community service agencies that focus on recognizing sexual assault and domestic violence along with how to access resources.  Volunteer: “We rely so much on our volunteers,” says Ellen Newman, Hamilton County volunteer coordinator. And for good reason: There are about 40 volunteers right now covering a range of survivor services from the 24-hour hotline to court room accompaniment. The 24-hour hotline is mostly operated by volunteers. This is a daytime opportunity to answer calls from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in the office on East Ninth Street. The hotline is an anonymous support system for survivors who might need someone to talk to or advice on how to move forward. Hospital advocates are on call anywhere from 11-13 hours per day. If a survivor is at the hospital and asks for someone to talk to, the on-call volunteer will be contacted to answer questions and provide support. Court advocates attend arraignment court with, and sometimes without, survivors. “They are there to answer questions and help them in the initial first step,” Newman says. If a survivor can’t attend the arraignment, the volunteer advocate will make notes of what happened there. As the trial progresses, advocates continue to attend and support the survivor. Education advocates help with community awareness. Volunteers travel to businesses, churches, schools and events around the Greater Cincinnati area to provide information on recognizing and surviving sexual assault and domestic violence. There is also a Teen Dating Violence Prevention curriculum the travels to area high schools focusing on preventing violence before it starts. The program helps teens identify healthy and unhealthy behaviors in relationships and encourages them to challenge the social norms that encourage dating violence. Women Helping Women will often need volunteers to work a table at an event, talk about the programs and hand out information. They are also looking for people to help with Light Up The Night, their annual fundraising event on April 28. “We are survivor-centric — that is the first and foremost quality you have to have,” Newman says. To become a volunteer, you first need to fill out the online application; after it’s reviewed, there will be an interview to determine if you are a good fit for WHW. “Our name is a little misleading — we are really searching to add more male volunteers,” Newman says. The organization is nondiscriminatory and they are hoping to grow in the number of male volunteers they have available to work with survivors. The training program is 40 hours and includes an overview of the programs and services along with the ethics of the organization. There is information about what to report and how to work with survivors. They also focus on how to work with specific populations of people to ensure all survivors feel safe. All volunteers must be 18 and have a clean background check. Women Helping Women asks that volunteers stay with them for at least a year and complete two sessions a month in any of the programs. Donations: Donations are always evolving with the needs of each survivor. Feel free to contact the organization to find out what is in immediate need. Some things that can always be used are feminine hygiene products, new clothes and bus passes for survivors to get home, to court and to the doctor’s office. For more information on WOMEN HELPING WOMEN and to access the volunteer application visit womenhelpingwomen.org.
 
 
by Katherine Newman 03.23.2016 38 days ago
Posted In: Arts community, Culture at 11:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Nonprofit Spotlight: Visionaries + Voices

Visionaries + Voices is a nonprofit organization operating in Northside. The purpose of V+V is to provide space and opportunity for artists with disabilities to thrive, giving exhibition opportunities, studio space, supplies and support to more than 125 artists with disabilities. “Our mission is to provide artists with professional, creative, and cultural opportunities,” says Hannah Leow, volunteer coordinator at V+V. The artists were creating before they come to V+V so they just keep doing their own thing. “They keep their vision and their style, we just support them,” Leow says. Visionaries + Voices achieves its mission in three ways, the first being the studio program where artists can come and spend time working on their art. The exhibition program gives opportunities for them to show their work with five exhibits a year in the Northside gallery. The final piece is the Teaching Artist Program, which allows artists to go into the community and teach their style of creativity. Volunteer: Volunteers are needed Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and occasionally on evenings and weekends. The biggest need is for people in the creative field who are interested in making art and want to work collaboratively with artists. “The biggest need I’ve seen is creative folks, or folks who aren't creative and are interested in learning about creativity, being in the studio working with the artists,” Leow says. Service learning days at V+V are great for high school groups. They can come in and do organizational tasks for a little while, which is very helpful to the organization. Then they have the chance to work with the artists and combine their creative ideas.Opportunities outside of creative work include organizational projects, cleaning and providing technical support. There are volunteers at V+V who come frequently and have been there for a long time, but there are also volunteers who don't come so often. There really isn’t a requirement for the type of commitment you need to make. Anyone interested in volunteering can reach out online. Before starting as a volunteer, expect a short introductory session with a tour of the studio and general information about the organization and its goals, a questionnaire and background check. “It’s a pretty quick process,” Leow says. Some of the resources available to volunteers include articles about working with adults with disabilities. This isn’t really focused on during the brief training because Leow believes it’s something you learn as you go. “The biggest thing for me is that it’s an experience based training,” Leow says. There is no real precursor to being a good fit at V+V. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis “We feel it out with each person,” Leow says. It is about connecting and accepting the artist. They have a wide variety of volunteers from many different creative backgrounds. Donations: Art supplies are in high demand at V+V. You can find a list online detailing what is needed. Some of the items include permanent markers, ink pads, buttons, sewing needles and glitter. One unique program promotes giving the gift of stocks. Consider donating stocks that have already been acquired and increased in value. Financial advisors are able to transfer stocks from private parties to Visionaries + Voices. In return, the organization will issue an acknowledgement of the gift. For more information on VISIONARIES + VOICES visit visionariesandvoices.com.
 
 
by Katherine Newman 03.16.2016 45 days ago
Posted In: COMMUNITY at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Nonprofit Spotlight: Cincinnati Squash Academy

The Cincinnati Squash Academy is an urban squash program operating out of the Emmanuel Community Center in Over-the-Rhine where there are three brand new courts and a learning center. “We are aiming to blend squash and academics into one cohesive unit,” says Austin Schiff, executive director of CSA. The goal is to use squash as a motivation tool to keep kids accelerating their education. Since the second grade, Schiff has played squash, a racket sport that has been around for more than 100 years. The game is played on a four-walled court with two or four players and a hollow rubber ball. CSA is the only urban squash program in Cincinnati and recruits from four low-income schools: Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School, Hays-Porter Elementary, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy’s Otto Armleder School and St. Joseph School. “We go into the school and do a presentation,” Schiff explains. “They sign up if they're interested and then they can come and try-out.” Try-outs can take four to seven months. Students begin at the bronze level to see if they fit well with the program; at silver they begin to track attendance and do a home visit to ensure the family is supportive and sees a future for their child in the program. Once a student reaches the gold level, they are fully enrolled in CSA and have complete access to all the resources, trips and the summer program. Try-outs are so extensive because it is very important that each accepted student succeeds in the program. “We want to be selective of the kids and families that we choose, knowing that this isn’t just a six-month fad,” Schiff says. He wants to find kids that are committed to staying in the program through high school. CSA puts a major focus on school success along with learning squash. Kids come three times a week and their time is divided. Half the day is spent on the court and the other half is in the learning center working on homework and special projects. Rachel Parker, the academic director, works hard to help the students find their personal interests through different classroom projects and field trips. They have taken trips to the Cincinnati Art Museum and practiced gardening on Earth Day. “At heart we are an education program,” Schiff says “To the public we are squash, but it’s really much more than that.” The main goal is not to train world-renowned squash players, but simply to provide education and motivation and to make sure the kids make it to college. They start preparing kids freshman year or earlier for college by exploring resume building, the application process and understanding financial aid. CSA took a group to Boston last year for an urban squash competition at Harvard University. When they weren’t playing, the students toured Harvard's campus. “A year ago, to them, squash was a vegetable or what you do to a roach on the family rug,” Schiff says. “Now they are on the all-glass show court at Harvard University playing a very traditionally high-class, high-brow sport. Volunteers: Currently CSA has 20-30 volunteers. Volunteers help on the court every day at practice. Experienced squash volunteers — the more skilled, the better — are invited to come and teach kids the meticulous technique that is so important to the game. You can do this during the school year or come for the 4-week summer program. They need tutors in the classrooms and to chaperone trips. Schiff is looking for people who care and can connect with the kids. Volunteers as young as 12 can help in the learning center. “We want people who just love being with kids and want to push them to succeed,” Schiff says. All volunteers must pass a background check. Donations: There is a big CSA fundraiser happening in April. Corporate sponsors are needed to provide squash supplies. Because all the athletic equipment is donated, rackets, goggles, shoes and squash balls are always in demand. Basic school supplies like paper, pencils, dry-erase markers and a lot of disinfecting wipes are helpful in the learning center. CSA provides snacks for the students but haven’t had any luck getting a grant for fresh fruit and vegetables. Healthy snacks would be a great donation, but be mindful of students with allergies to peanuts and red dye. The organization has its offices, referred to as the bunker, in the basement of the Emmanuel Community Center. The bunker is safe from nuclear fallout, but unfortunately is not very home-like. Schiff is looking for plants and art to spruce the place up. The office could also use a working copy machine because theirs recently broke. For more information on CINCINNATI SQUASH ACADEMY, visit squashacademy.org.
 
 
by Katherine Newman 02.17.2016 73 days ago
at 01:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Nonprofit Spotlight: Matthew: 25 Ministries

Matthew 25: Ministries is a nonprofit organization based in Blue Ash dedicated to international humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Since its inception in 1991, the nonprofit has been able to go from carrying suitcases of medical supplies to small villages in Nicaragua to now distribution 15 million pounds of product each year that reaches 20 million people worldwide. “Give items, give financially, or give time. It’s not right for me to tell someone how they should serve, it’s up to them to decide how they should serve.” says CEO Tim Mettey. Basically anything someone has to offer is accepted here. Mettey stresses that there is no effort too little to make a difference to someone in need. Volunteer Matthew 25: Ministries is looking for volunteers of all ages with any range of abilities to help with sorting and repackaging the tons of donated items. Walking through the 168,000-square-foot facility between shifts, it’s obvioushow huge the place actually is. The warehouse organization is so efficient with pallets of donations stacked to the ceiling, it’s like walking through an altruistic Costco. Matthew 25: Ministries could be considered low-maintenance volunteering — they just ask people to drop in when they have time; there are no commitments or an extensive training before you start. “Every thing we have we can teach anyone to do in 5 minutes.” Mettey says. Volunteers can help by sorting through cans of latex paint for their Rainbow Paint Reblending Program. The program takes paint that would normally go to waste, opens it all up, combines like colors and repackages the paint which is then donated to housing projects around the world. Or help build personal care kits that are sent to people in need, either living in an area without access or having lost everything in a disaster. This station is designed for younger volunteers. Shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, mouthwash and other hygiene products are separated into bins and arranged in a circle. This makes it a simple task to grab a plastic bag and pick one product from each bin to fill it. Donate If you don’t have a ton of extra time in the day, think about cleaning out a closet or the pantry to find items for donation. Any consumable item you can donate is a gift to someone facing the aftermath of a disaster or living in a developing country. Medical supplies, clothing, hygiene products, non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies and toys are just some of the items that Matthew 25: Ministries is always accepting. The organization collects empty pill bottles as part of the Recycling Program. Donated pill bottles, clean with the labels removed and the lids on, can be reused. If a lid is lost or you don't feel like cleaning the bottles, they can be shredded and turned in for cash that is put back into the organization. About a dozen giant bins of donated pill bottles, that would most likely be in a landfill otherwise, are processed every day for recycling. Monetary donations are appreciated. “If someone writes us a check for disaster relief, 100-percent of that will go to the disaster relief.” Mettey says. Because there is only one facility, Matthew 25: Ministries is able to keep its overhead cost very low, allowing 99 percent of the cash donations to go directly into service programs. Just by stepping foot in the facility it was evident that Matthew 25: Ministries is dedicated to what it is doing. The organization began with one man’s compassionate idea to deliver medical supplies to a small village in Central America. Today, it celebrates 25 years of providing humanitarian aid to more than 60 countries. Donations are accepted at the Matthew 25: Ministries Warehouse: 11060 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash. To learn more about Matthew 25: Ministries, visit m25m.org.
 
 

Give and Get Back

Tailor your generosity this holiday season by considering what matters most to you

0 Comments · Tuesday, November 20, 2012
The holiday season is known as a time to celebrate, but, more importantly, it’s a time to give. It’s easy to translate your personal interests into the volunteer world.  

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