In Brazil, they’ve helped students reflect on their professional aspirations. In Pakistan, they’ve packed warm clothing, blankets and other necessities for people displaced by a recent earthquake. Leading up to International Volunteer Day, Dec. 5, GE volunteers around the world are showing their commitment to their communities during the GE Volunteers Global Month of Service – for which GE and Points of Light have come together to support and encourage GE employees to address issues that matter most in their regions.
In this year of so much tragedy, the rituals of coming together and giving thanks seem profoundly important. In fact, I believe affirming the good and brilliant glimpses of light in our lives and in our world, can be a powerful tool for dispelling the hopelessness that prevails when problems seem far too big to solve.
Under the guidance of volunteers, a group of teens from Ghana developed a technological solution to tackle the improper disposal of waste. Their idea – create an app that would teach people how to sort trash and recycle waste. Across the globe, outside Philadelphia, volunteers demonstrated hands-on projects to elementary school students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math – fields known collectively as STEM.
It is not unusual for kids to feel scared and helpless after tragic incidents such as the recent events in Paris, Beirut and other parts of the world. Here are a range of resources for parents, teachers and other caring adults to help youth process their thoughts and feelings during these times.
Steve Gustafson took a recent volunteer project as a teaching moment for his kids, Thomas and Andrew, ages 10 and 8. The family joined volunteers from the Schenectady, New York, GE Volunteers Council, their family and friends to pack 369 bags with food that will be provided to local school children in need.
Many families who volunteer together spend time interacting with the people they serve. They may visit a nursing home and talk to residents, perhaps, or read to children at a local library. But for the Yamaato family of Atlanta, focusing on global issues makes that aspect of volunteer service more challenging.
For the Sjolseth family, giving back is so, well, daily. For the past three years, the family – Erik, 44, Sheila, 40, Everett, 9, and Merritt, 6, have made it a point to give something back and perform acts of kindness every single day.
After serving 22 years in the Army as a helicopter pilot, Deborah Snyder decided to make a change in her community for fellow veterans. “When you spend that much time in the Army, you learn a lot about yourself,” she says.
In the days following Points of Light’s Conference on Volunteering and Service, it was terrific to hear from so many business leaders that attending the conference brought a renewed sense of power and inspiration that helped them embrace the challenge of being a change maker at their companies.
As a sergeant in the military, Edwin Rodriguez learned this mantra – When you see something wrong you should do something about it. Driven by that mentality, Rodriguez signed up for a term of service with the Veteran Leader Corps, an AmeriCorps program run by Points of Light.
Military families understand the challenges that face veterans who are recovering from war-related traumas, visible or otherwise. Kate Fisher, whose husband served in the Army for 27 years, knew she could help.
John Reynolds had been drafted into the Vietnam War as a combat infantryman, and when he returned home, he had a difficult time transitioning into a career. During subsequent wars, he saw that returning vets had problems similar to those he had faced.
Spending eight hours a day for up to six months in nature offers the time and space to decompress, explains veteran Sean Gobin. Hiking with other veterans – people who understand what you’ve been through – is also critical, he adds.
The year Patti Kirk Gross left Nebraska, where she’d grown up and attended college, she had just suffered through 30 straight days with subzero temperatures. “I said, ‘I don’t care where I’m going, but I’m going,’” she says with a laugh. She ended up in Las Vegas. The decision would change her life.
When we talk about big data, we’re really talking about the scale of data generated by everything around us at all times. Today, data is constantly being produced from a variety of sources at an amazing velocity, volume and variety. It comes from cell phones, social media accounts, websites, satellites – you name it. But to extract meaningful value from big data, you need analytics capabilities, tools and skills. That’s where the volunteers come in.
As we approach Veterans Day, Nov. 11, make plans to celebrate the sacrifices and courage of our armed forces through volunteer service. Points of Light and the Travis Manion Foundation are teaming up to conduct volunteer projects that will engage youth and military members in service to address the most pressing issues in communities, while inspiring a legacy of service among the next generation.
Today’s nonprofits face challenges that extend far beyond meeting the needs of their community and clients. Delivering on a mission means cross-sector collaboration, volunteer management, fundraising, performance measurement, and more. To meet these challenges, many nonprofits are turning to Service Enterprise, a strategy that helps nonprofits build their capacity and increase their community impact by maximizing their effective use of volunteers.
Across America, more than 5.5 million youth are disconnected from college and careers. That's a jobless rate in excess of 15 percent for inner-city 16- to 24-year-olds. Having that many young people out of school and not working is not just devastating to those displaced youth and their future, but it's a long-term hindrance to the economic development of the communities in which they live. It's a challenge that needs public-private partnerships combining resources and expertise.