Volunteer Expo 2012

Yesterday, I attended the 2012 Volunteer Expo sponsored by The Standard in downtown Portland at the Pioneer Courthouse. What originally started as an event for The Standard employees to learn more about local volunteer opportunities has become so successful that it is now open to the entire community. What an amazing opportunity for folks who are interested in learning about volunteering in our community to directly connect with more than 125 non-profits.

My goal was to discover and learn about Portland non-profits that I wasn’t already familiar with in town.

Of course, there were a few that I knew well like Girl Scouts, Portland Children’s Museum as well as Dress for SuccessSCRAP and Portland Parks and Recreation. I also thanked Friends of the Trees for the work they have done in our community to plant trees. I appreciate those every time I bike on the Fanno Creek Trail near my house. All of these have wonderful volunteer opportunities.

When I approached the American Red Cross booth and the volunteer asked if I was interested in donating blood I sheepishly replied no. To which she shared that there are many other opportunities to help volunteer with them that don’t involve giving blood, like helping on a disaster relief event or even checking people in for blood drives. Regardless, there are a plethora of opportunities.

One of my favorite discoveries was Store to Door. Their mission is to facilitate independent living for Portland area seniors by providing low-cost, personalized grocery shopping and delivery service. They look for volunteers who will deliver groceries and makes sure the senior is safe and notices if other home care services are needed. Considering the fact that I have known the work of Loaves and Fishes for years I was surprised to learn about this wonderful additional service to provide seniors independence.

For another organization geared to seniors, I’d recommend you learn about the non-profit Elders in Action whose mission is to assure a vibrant community through active involvement of older adults. They offer events and a speakers bureau with an array of subjects and have meaningful volunteer opportunities for seniors.

The Portland Kitchen is a new emerging non-profit. The founders are hoping to create a comprehensive culinary after-school program for high school youth in the Portland metropolitan area. Earl Frederick was familiar with FareStart in Seattle that I wrote about last fall and hopes that his non-profit will have aspects of that very successful program. He is looking for partners, donations, equipment and sponsors to help him build this non-profit.

A second non-profit geared to high risk youth is PAL the Police Activity League (which despite the name does have a chapter in Beaverton as well). Their mission is to build a partnership between youth and police through multiple programs designed to develop good citizenship. They offer youth a safe place, allowing them to broaden their horizons and imagine a different future for themselves. They are always looking for coaches, tutors, fundraisers and event planners.

Trillium Family Services needs mentors to provide assistance to families in crisis. This may also include entire families. Their development director shared a story with me about a boy and his family that joined the program when the boy wanted to volunteer as part of a mitzvah project for his bar mitzvah. They continue to stay involved. The Albertina Kerr Centers continues to offer programs after more than 100 years in service to this community. They have an array of volunteer opportunities from executive chef to cashier, managers to sales people.

Ever wanted to go on a service learning program but don’t have a month or a year to devote to it. Well you are in luck, International Volunteers in Action (Ivia) offers international short-term programs designed to provide adults with opportunities to do volunteer service abroad in addition to sightseeing on their vacation. They recommend this as an option for a mile stone birthday or a family reunion. What an awesome opportunity for giving and celebrating. Definitely worth checking out!

Finally, the Partnership Scoop Shop was on hand to provide free scoops of Ben and Jerry’s when you got your CONNECT card stamped by five non-profits. It was a sweet win-win learning about new organizations and getting a delicious scoop of ice cream for the effort.

The Volunteer Expo reminded me why Portland is the second best city for volunteering in the country with nearly 37% of our population giving their time. With so many amazing non- profits in our city I hope anyone who hasn’t already found somewhere to give some of their valuable time will look into it.

If you need help figuring out where your skills and passions could best be used in a volunteer position, feel free to contact me. I’m happy to offer an assessment of your passions and needs and help make appropriate recommendations to help you find a meaningful and fulfilling volunteer opportunity.


School supplies

It’s hard to believe that I have finally reached my final 10 mitzvahs for this 1000 mitzvah project. What started out as a crazy idea in the middle of the night has turned into something powerful and beneficial. These past few weeks,  I have been slow to track mitzvahs because I wasn’t quite ready to finish.

People continue to ask me what I plan to do next. For now, I have decided to blog about other volunteer opportunities or interesting stories about mitzvahs that happen after I have finished my project. I am looking for speaking engagements and ways to share my story. In addition, I have  begun work on a book proposal and look forward to that journey as it unfolds.  The old saying goes, “When one door closes another one opens” so I expect as I complete the original mitzvah project  a new piece of it will emerge.

990) Donated at the supermarket for the Meals on Wheels program of Loaves and Fishes.

991) Brought some school supplies requested by my son’s teacher. Their supplies are dwindling.

992) Put away a friend’s equipment at the gym today who needed to leave quickly.

993) Motioned someone to go in front of me in the car.

Loaves and Fishes

916) My mom and I volunteered Friday to deliver Valentine-o-grams for Loaves and Fishes. Turned out we knew two of the recipients. Made the experience quite unique this year.

917) Held the door twice today for two different people using a walker.

918) Dropped off a little something for a friend recovering from surgery.

On Saturday, my family and I attended synagogue to celebrate a bat mitzvah. We sat behind a older woman who had a small bag of candy (that was emboidered with the words Shabbat treats) to give out to the children. She handed my children candy about 1/2 hour after we got there when they were first beginning to get wiggly. They were so excited. It was fun to watch all morning as different children continued to come over to get candy. I want to grow up and be the candy lady. She seemed to get so much pleasure just giving – of course it was candy.

Witnessed another mitzvah at the movies this weekend. The gentleman cleaning the theatre between shows found a dollar on the floor. He handed it to a young boy about 10 years old sitting in front of us. I heard his mom comment that when you do good deeds they come back to you. I was genuinely impressed that the janitor passed along the money to a stranger rather than keeping it to himself.

A mitzvah within a mitzvah

814-816) I had hoped to find a volunteer opportunity to deliver meals on wheels through our local Loaves and Fishes organization. I have never had a chance to do that on Thanksgiving and thought it might be a good family opportunity. Luckily, 300 other people had already signed up (lots of mitzvah doers here). There was a need to hand out fliers at my local supermarket encouraging people to purchase a dinner at the check out line. I had my shift yesterday and it was a wonderful opportunity. It was a lot of fun and I saw several friends while I was on my shift. Also, I gave someone directions to the bathroom, helped someone find the manager, got someone to help a gal in the florist department and had someone ask me for condiments in the deli. I left feeling useful and having helped a very worthy cause.

817) Our gym has just made a new policy. They moved the towels outside of the locker rooms. Apparently, it has already dropped the towel usage by 50%. The only down side is if your in the locker room undressed and then you remember you forgot to take a towel ( you get the visual). On Monday, I got one for someone else and the next day had to ask someone to get one for me. What goes around comes around.

818) Sent gratitude cards to several people including my children’s teacher.

819) Volunteered in my daughter’s classroom today. There is no better insight to what’s happening at school than hanging around and volunteering. It’s eye opening.

I received two awesome mitzvahs this week, got a wonderful thank you card from one of my business partners. I also got a call from a friend whom I had given a recipe. I knew it was up her alley – easy and healthy. She called me to tell me her kids loved it and thanked me for sharing. I know I have said it before but cards and calls can really make a differene. I bet if each of us wrote one card and made one call a day we would literally change this world.

Finally, my daughter and I were reading some of my blog tonight and she asked if she could write a comment. I am so blessed.