Nic Turza on Frontline Families and Community Service After the Military

We interviewed Nic Turza, former Activate Good board chairman, regarding his journey as a volunteer. Nic began volunteering at an early age. He was active with service efforts with the South Carolina YMCA while in high school and volunteered with Hands On Nashville when he was a young Army lieutenant. (The HandsOn Network is part of the Points of Light Foundation, which was started by President George H.W. Bush and the national sponsor for the Frontline Families initiative). Volunteering was a natural fit for Nic; he had joined the Army because, simply put, he thought serving was the right thing to do. Nic transitioned into civilian life after eight years of service and now resides in Arlington, Virginia. When asked what advice he would give a fellow veteran transitioning from the military, Nic urges veterans to learn about the many available resources and advantages, both professionally and medically, offered at the local, state, and national level from government, companies, and nonprofits. Many resources specifically help with the transition to civilian life. Activate Good’s Frontline Families representatives also asked Nic to share additional thoughts on his military and volunteer leadership experiences. What did your experience as an Army Captain teach you about leadership? Throughout my time in the army, even as a junior leader, I would try to learn from good leaders. The most successful leaders knew what you can delegate, the degree of delegation, and were keen on identifying the right people for which tasks. Leaders succeed through directing and empowering people. In the Army, there is a motto: “Mission first, people always.” This is true in business and in life. Leaders that care about their people as much as they care about achieving their objective are the most...

Vote for Activate Good: Indy Week’s Best of the Triangle

In February we were nominated us as a part of Indy Week’s Best of the Triangle. We’re VERY excited to have made into the top 4 in the ‘Best Nonprofit in Wake County‘ (under services) and ‘Best Charitable Group‘ (under local color)! Help us win by giving us your vote: Vote for Activate Good! Voting for Activate Good is as easy as 1-2-3: Step 1: Click on us under ‘Best Nonprofit in Wake County’ Step 2: Log in or create an Indy Week log in when prompted (it’s fast) Step 3: VOTE for Activate Good and see the ‘Vote’ button turn GREEN! — You’re done!  Download graphics to share with your posts here. Each person can vote once, so please SHARE with your friends! Wondering if you successfully voted? Look for the green button:                        ...

Tara Konya and Melinda Knowles Spruce up Shop for TROSA, Inc.

Dynamic duo Merchandising Maven and Space Lifter – also known as Tara Konya and Melinda Knowles, respectively – are using their retail know-how to positively boost operations for TROSA, Inc.’s thrift store. “I’m very excited about the impact that our volunteer Pro Heroes, Melinda and Tara, will make on our store,” says Jeff Stern, TROSA’s Director of Business Operations. “They each have a broad range of retail expertise, from small second-hand shops to large corporate stores, and their skill sets complement each other very well.” The purpose of their Merchandising Consultation project is threefold: pinpoint areas of improvement in the store; suggest ways to remedy those issues; and help create training plans for future store staff. Why TROSA? Tara and Melinda are not just making the store more customer friendly; they’re also boosting TROSA’s mission by providing valuable education for those seeking assistance through the organization. TROSA, Inc. (Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers) provides a multi-year, live-in program for recovering individuals whom have a strong passion to overcome obstacles and improve their lives. By providing vocational training, education, counseling, mentoring, leadership training, and continuing care, TROSA is creating educated, employable citizens. Its thrift store opened about a year ago in Durham, and is providing real-world work experience to individuals in TROSA’s program. “All of the revenue from the store goes directly into the TROSA program, so [our Pro Heroes’] efforts will have a direct impact on the residents of TROSA who are working to break the cycle of abusing substances and become happy, productive members of society,” Stern points out. With donations steadily streaming in from another TROSA venture, their...

Jackie Podger Volunteers Planning Skills to Assist A Helping Hand

Pro Hero, Jackie Podger (aka: Mrs. Volunteer) is truly lending “a helping hand” to assist a worthy Triangle nonprofit. Our Pro Hero is volunteering her planning skills to support A Helping Hand, in their mission of providing assistance to senior citizens and those with disabilities. Executive Director of A Helping Hand, Jennifer Ashley, is incredibly grateful for all of the work that Jackie has done thus far, stating: [Jackie] is helping us take a look at our volunteer program with an eye toward retention. We are already using some of the feedback that we have received to enhance our volunteer training program. About Pro Hero, Jackie Podger “Mrs. Volunteer” Jackie possesses education and experience in training and development in healthcare, higher education, the airline industry, and social service organizations – all of which she says has given her invaluable skills in organization development. Jackie has also worked extensively with exempt, non-exempt and volunteer populations, recruiting and developing relationships. When asked about what volunteering means to her, Jackie thoughtfully responded: [Volunteering] is an ethical framework that suggests, on a corporate level as well as an individual level, citizens of a community should connect with its’ local people and participate in solving the problems of the community either through volunteering, donating, or social activism. It is a duty, which benefits society at large. Lending a Hand in a Big Way Jackie is thrilled to use her professional skills to give back to a worthy cause. Since working with A Helping Hand, she has developed a strategic marketing plan to help the Triangle nonprofit increase their number of volunteer staff. Jackie has also attended and reviewed the volunteer...

Teen Day of Service 2016: Inspire Teens to Become Local Leaders

You hear it all the time, in some form or another: Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. In the not too far off future, the teens of 2016 will be leading the society that we, our parents, and grandparents before them helped to create. Now, there are many ways a teen could gain leadership skills, but there’s something to be said about a teen who chooses to use their free time to volunteer. We believe that volunteerism in youth is an indicator of not only good character, fostering compassion, empathy, and concern for others – but also leadership capacity, generating skills and outcomes that influence and benefit the long-term greater good. What Needs to Change? What if we told you that, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, North Carolina ranks 28th in the nation in volunteerism? We have some low percentages here: just over 26 percent of all North Carolina residents participate in community service each year; and only 19.6 percent of teens in our state volunteer, compared to a national average of 26.7 percent. But those numbers can turn around! If all students in just one of our region’s school systems – Wake County Public Schools, for example – volunteered, our community’s volunteer rate could jump an estimated 5 percent, bumping us to 11th place nationally, and resulting in thousands more teens engaged to tackle vital community issues. How Do We Want to Help? Activate Good has been working with Triangle-area schools and the teen population since 2010, when we developed a Community Leadership and Service curriculum for Grades 9 through 12. But we recognize that some schools with limited resources may not be...

Start an Employee Volunteer Program in 5 Steps!

Even if a business is running well, you may still “pop the hood” once in a while to make sure you’re not falling below any crucial lines. You might naturally think to evaluate your customer satisfaction to see if there are issues you’re unaware of from a service perspective. But what about employee satisfaction? Employee morale is so very, very important. A lack of regular opportunities for employees to connect to or engage with the outside world aside from regularly scheduled company meetings could contribute to issues such as high employee turnover rates or lagging deadlines. How connected your employees are to you and your company, their coworkers, communities, and families can all have a big impact on their personal investment in your business. One way companies can combat or preempt employee morale issues is to create an Employee Volunteer Program! Many local companies recognize the potential in community engagement efforts for morale-boosting, coworker-connecting, company-culture-creating, do-gooding fun. (Did we mention that corporate volunteerism looks great to the public and potential customers, too?) Employee Volunteer Programs can take many forms depending on the needs, schedules, and culture of your company and enable your company to generate a consistent means of staying engaged. Your options are endless! Ready to get started? There are five steps to kicking off your Employee Volunteer Program: Step 1: Assess if an Employee Volunteer Program is the right fit for your organization. A quick employee survey may be best to help gauge employee interest, and help answer the five W’s: Who is interested in an Employee Volunteer Program (i.e. estimate of how many)? Why are they interested (i.e. what benefits do they hope to receive)? What causes would like to...

Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment

Since the recession of 2008, the entire state of North Carolina has been exempt from a federal law requiring that able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week to continue receiving benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As the economy continues to improve, many places no longer qualify for this exemption. Since January 1, 2016 the law has been reenacted for 23 counties in North Carolina, including Wake, Durham, and Orange counties. Impact in the Triangle According to Human Services Director, Regina Petteway, there are as many as 4,000 ABAWDs receiving SNAP benefits in Wake County. We do not yet have data indicating the need in Durham and Orange counties. Although some recipients have jobs, many who don’t already meet the 80 hour per month work requirement will be looking for work placement or job training services. Since volunteer work counts towards the 80 hours, Triangle nonprofits can expect an influx of applicants looking for placement.            Linking Volunteering and Employment Volunteering is not only great for area causes, it can also be a pathway to employment for those serving. Volunteering can help job seekers learn new skills, take on leadership roles, or expand their social networks. A study done by the Corporation for National & Community Service, “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment”, found that individuals who volunteer have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding employment after being out of work than non-volunteers. Furthermore, volunteers without high school diplomas are 51 percent more likely to find employment than their non-volunteering counterparts. Help Us Offer Additional Opportunities for Skills Development By working with Wake...

Frontline Families Recruitment Underway: Why Should You Get Involved?

As you may have heard on Facebook, Twitter, Meetup, or right here on our blog – Activate Good has taken on a new initiative! Now through September, we’ll be working with active or veteran military members and their families, providing training on community leadership and service project coordination, and helping them implement their first service projects to benefit the Triangle community. Becoming Frontline Families Volunteer Leaders There are lots of great reasons for military members, veterans, and their families to get involved – among them, the enormous sense of well-being that volunteer service can bring, especially during times of reintegration. Very basically, military and civil service are both rooted in the same basic needs and wants: Contribution and influence. Connection and inclusion. Service members have a deep-seated desire to help their country, contributing to our freedom and influencing cha nge. It may be difficult for some to find a way to keep that desire quenched once they’re stateside again. Volunteering can help folks find that missing piece, while also helping their local communities and triggering a ripple effect of do-good-feel-good greatness. For families moving from assignment to assignment, both in and out of the country, it can be difficult for spouses and children to feel at home in their new residence – lacking a connection to new people and places, and inclusion in what’s happening around them. Again, volunteering can help fill the void and establish connections that may otherwise be difficult to find. It takes a strong person to get involved with the military. But feeling unfulfilled and disconnected – overall out-of-touch – can lead to feeling low in so many ways, even...

Say Hello To Our New Frontline Families Corps Members!

Activate Good is excited to announce the arrival of our three Frontline Families Corps Members! Frontline Families is a military initiative of Points of Light – currently the largest volunteer organization in the nation – in collaboration with Americorps. The organization’s Frontline Families initiative aims to engage and inspire military members, veterans, and their families to become volunteer leaders as a way to reintegrate and connect to others in their communities. After some snow, a few canceled flights, and a lot of rescheduling, our Frontline Family Corps Members have already completed [virtual] training with Americorps and Points of Light – and Activate Good, of course – brainstormed, and got a quick jump on organizing this great new mission. Now, they’ll recruit three separate groups of participating military members, veterans, and their families as volunteer leaders, preparing them (during three Leadership Luncheons) with tools they need to help address challenges faced by their communities. Each group will use their new skills to plan and complete a service project that will strengthen the Triangle area, and then join us again for an optional project during our 9/11 Weekend of Service. This is the first year Activate Good has partnered with Frontline Families, but we’re ready to make big strides in the Triangle with these three members helping awesome leaders accomplish their goals for their communities. Let’s give everyone a warm welcome! Andrew Heider I am a California transplant from the Bay Area currently living in Durham with my two pups. The service gene has been with me throughout my life, from my family’s long line of military service, to educating at risk youths during college, and...

Citrix and Smith Anderson Team Up to Spread Holiday Cheer to Youth

Nearly 60 volunteers from Citrix and Smith Anderson united on December 5th for a holiday-themed day of service with the help of Activate Good! Volunteers took on a multitude of tasks at the Boys & Girls Clubs, preparing three Club center locations in Raleigh for the holidays and the coming year. Citrix and Smith Anderson also sponsored Christmas gifts for members of the club, wrapped these gifts, set up Christmas trees and decorations, and cleaned, painted, and organized all throughout the building, and sprucing up the Club centers, making a big impact for Club members!    “The Boys & Girls Clubs are very appreciative of the help afforded by the volunteers from Citrix and Smith Anderson. They filled our buildings and over 350 members with Holiday cheer.”  -Tristyn Card, Boys and Girls Club Youth Volunteers Join In   Many employees were joined by their families in volunteering, making this a unique opportunity for young volunteers to get engaged helping other youth and start a tradition of volunteering together as a family. Younger volunteers used their creative skills to make custom ornaments for the Club’s Christmas trees, while older youth volunteers participated in more complex tasks, such as cleaning and painting the center alongside volunteering parents.   “It was a great event and because it was so well-organized we were able to get right to work and accomplish a lot in the time we were there. It’s meaningful to work hand in hand with a customer and neighbor to make our community better.” -Pete Harvey, Senior Director of Finance at Citrix Making a Lasting Impact The Boys & Girls Clubs serving Wake County serve...