A Road Trip with a Twist {Volunteer While Traveling – At All Ages}

On a Friday morning at the end of June, 31 teens from New Jersey stepped off a bus in front of Raleigh City Farm. They had just begun a six-and-a-half-week trek across the United States. Raleigh was just their second stop on a trip with 26 destinations! The trip would take them to every region of the US—to cities like Chicago and Los Angeles and to the vast wilderness of Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. What brought these teens from New Jersey to an urban farm in Raleigh? They were taking part in the Great American road trip, but with a twist. The trip’s leader, Daniel Kaplan of USY on Wheels, explained that the teens were on a journey “mainly focused on leadership and social action.” Whether it involved working on a farm in Raleigh, serving food to the homeless in Chicago, or singing songs at a nursing home, these teens would certainly be leaving a trail of “good” behind them. Here at Activate Good, this journey piqued our interest. It was fitting that these traveling teens would come to us to find a volunteer opportunity. Their journey echoed the road trip of Activate Good founder, Amber Smith, who volunteered across the country on her own two-and-a-half-month trek. Also fitting, the teens arrived just as the first week of our Teen Leadership & Service Summer Program was wrapping up. That morning on the farm the NJ teens wielded pickaxes to break ground for new plantings and harvested blackberries. They also had a chance to learn about the farm and its practices. Daniel said, “The kids got really into it....

Ruth Peebles Bolsters Band Together

President and founder of the INS group, Ruth Peebles, joins our 2015 Activate Good Pro Heroes program line up as “The Innovative Solutioner”. No stranger to the local nonprofit community, Ruth is using her skills and volunteering to bolster Band Together‘s grant writing strategy. About Band Together Band Together’s tagline says it all: “Raise funds. Raise awareness. Raise the bar.” Created after September 11, 2001, Band Together’s mission is to build capacity for Triangle-area nonprofits by amplifying their impact on the community in which we live, using live music as a platform for social change. Each year Band Together chooses a partner charity with the potential to reach a major milestone with funding support. To do this, Band Together itself must build its funding resources. Enter: Ruth Peebles, The Innovative Solutioner. Using Professional Skills to Provide Solutions Ruth is a veteran in the nonprofit industry with over 26 years of experience in providing innovative solutions related to nonprofit management, resource development and grant writing. Ruth’s grant writing consultation will help Band Together diversify its funding base, build its own capacity and ensure long-term sustainability. I first learned about Band Together’s innovative mission to support nonprofits and the Triangle community about 14 years ago while I was serving as Development Director of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. With her extensive experience and long list of past nonprofit clients from Loaves and Fishes Ministry to Communities In Schools of Wake County, Band Together Executive Director Matt Strickland thinks Ruth is the perfect professional to help Band Together “raise the bar”: I have been so impressed by the ease and professionalism of our Pro...

Volunteers Create A Winter Wonderland At AnimalKind’s ReTails Thrift Shop

On a crisp, cold Saturday morning, fourteen Activate Good volunteers met at ReTails Thrift Shop to work on a new project: decorating the window displays of the store. The ReTails Thrift Shop is owned and operated by Triangle nonprofit, AnimalKind, and volunteers were asked to create a winter wonderland display using snow-themed craft projects along with items found in the store. Supporting the AnimalKind Mission Outreach Coordinator for AnimalKind, Laura Walton, recently began asking volunteer groups to decorate their display windows to encourage passersby to stop in and shop. She also wanted the displays to inform the public of AnimalKind’s mission: …to end the unnecessary euthanasia of adoptable cats and dogs in North Carolina shelters. Volunteers created two 3-dimensional displays in two windows and two large posters for the adjoining windows. After introductions and learning more about AnimalKind, volunteers chose the projects they wanted to work on. Volunteer Projects with AnimalKind Some of the projects that volunteers completed while at the ReTails Thrift Shop included: Cutting out snowflakes Making paper penguins Building a snowman out of plastic bags And More! Volunteers worked steadily for two hours, chatting about the projects and coming up with ideas for the displays. Before the volunteers began, Laura explained how the Retails Thrift Shop would be moving to a larger location in order to accommodate more donations. One of the posters that volunteers created displayed details about the new location, the grand opening, and the types of donations that the store is seeking. Once their projects were completed, the volunteers hung dozens of snowflakes (which they had previously cut out). The volunteers then worked on arranging the displays using other items they had...

Celebrating By Doing Good: Veronica’s Volunteer Birthday Party

As the Volunteer Coordinator here at Activate Good, I have been fortunate to receive many positive messages via email about: Eye-opening volunteer experiences Gratitude from nonprofit partners when volunteers tackled much needed projects Messages from parents seeking ways to show their children what volunteering means Educators planning ways for their students to take on service learning Businesses wishing to donate to a number of causes and plan meaningful days of service for their staff Churches wishing to engage their congregations in hands-on efforts, And more! These messages are one of the top reasons I do what I do.  At the end of the day, it is uplifting to be surrounded by Do-Gooders, and I am so proud of the volume of dedicated volunteers in the Triangle and the many ways that they choose to give back in an effort to better our community. Celebrating a Milestone With A Volunteer Birthday Party One message that came through my Inbox a few months ago truly struck a chord with me, and I hope that by sharing this it will resonate around the Triangle and perhaps beyond. Veronica Ingram, an avid volunteer, emailed me seeking assistance in  planning something I hadn’t received a project request for to date. Her email simply said, I have a milestone birthday at the end of May, and I’d like to have a service project as part of that celebration. I was so excited that she had contacted me for assistance in planning her birthday-party-volunteer-effort, and it immediately made me feel inspired to copy her volunteer birthday party myself later this year. I asked Veronica:  “What inspired...

Lisa Jeffries: Using Skills to Help Transitions LifeCare

Many young professionals embrace volunteerism. However, many are often frustrated because they don’t have the opportunity to help nonprofits as they did in high school or college. Some may feel unable to make monetary donations or lack the flexibility in their schedule to donate time for general activities. But utilizing their unique skills to help out might be a great way for young professionals to find their path on their journey to serve. Applying Unique Skills to Boost Technology for a Good Cause Lisa Jeffries is a young professional who is the founder and principal consultant of Raleighwood Media Group. Lisa has a number of web-based skills, particularly in content management systems. While visiting the Activate Good website, she saw a volunteer project right in her wheelhouse: Providing WordPress training for Transitions LifeCare (formerly Hospice of Wake County). According to Jeffries: “The experience was wonderfully timed and fulfilling. My family has benefited from the humbling work that [Transitions LifeCare] provides to the community many times, as recently as the 2011 passing of my grandfather, who suffered from the debilitating effects of dementia in his final years. I had been interested in being able to give back to Transitions LifeCare, and then I stumbled upon the listing on Activate Good’s website for someone to help them with WordPress. I’m a big believer in fate; and that day, it certainly came knocking.” Helping Transitions LifeCare (formerly Hospice of Wake County) Transitions LifeCare (formerly Hospice of Wake County) provides physical, emotional and spiritual care to those living with an advanced illness, their caregivers and those who have lost a loved one. Recently the nonprofit moved...

Home Away from Home: Ronald McDonald House of Durham

For 34 years, the Ronald McDonald House of Durham has been providing a home away from home for families with seriously ill children. Their vision is to offer love, share comfort, inspire community and sustain hope by giving families a place to stay when their child is being treated in a nearby hospital. Accommodating Families in Need When a family travels more than 50 miles from home to obtain treatment for their child, they are eligible to stay at the House. For a suggested $10-15 per night, a family can stay in a bedroom with amenities similar to a hotel room, but families are never turned away for their inability to pay. All families have access to a fully equipped communal kitchen, dining area, living room and laundry facility. There is also a chapel, learning center, computer room and library on site. Having these resources is important in meeting the needs of a family who has to spend several weeks or months away from home. The Ronald McDonald House also sponsors family rooms at Duke University Hospital and WakeMed Children’s Hospital so families can get away to relax, have a meal or check email without having to leave the hospital grounds. The Ronald McDonald House of Durham anticipates hosting more than 1,300 families in the house and 40,000 visits to the family rooms in the coming year. They rely on the support of the community and volunteers to help meet the needs of these families. Holly Hutchinson, community outreach manager for the Ronald McDonald House of Durham, explains: Volunteers provide a clean place to relax, activity nights, and home cooked meals....