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 you to celebrate your milestone birthday in this manner? Have you ever done this before?”
More Than Making Wishes & Blowing Out Candles – Wanting to Have a Lasting Impact
Veronica explained that she wanted to do something that would have a lasting impact. A friend of hers had celebrated her birthday by making sandwiches and giving them to the homeless. Veronica loved the idea and wanted to do something similar. This would be the first time Veronica included a service project as part of a birthday celebration.
I asked Veronica to complete our Project Request Form, so I could begin brainstorming some potential party spots for her and her party-goers. I was happy to get started on planning this unique match! Veronica told me a bit more about her vision for this project: She wanted it “to be memorable but also purposeful,” and she explained that “a service project for the poor, hunger, community, education, parks, the arts, etc. would be ideal.”
I researched and presented a few project options to her, and she ultimately chose to invite her friends to celebrate (AKA “volunteer”) with her at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS). This nonprofit partner’s mission is to pioneer innovative, transformative solutions designed to end hunger in our community.
Planning a Volunteer Birthday Party with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Volunteer Manager, Aeriel Miller, Veronica, and I finalized the plans. Aeriel told me that IFFS had never received such a request, and she was also excited to help Veronica plan it. Aeriel stated,
[I hope] the idea continues to grow in popularity, as we see it as a great benefit for all involved!
She went on to say:
The concept of a ‘Philanthropic Birthday Party’ is a great idea! Not only are you celebrating by spending time with friends, you’re allowing people to show how much they care for you by volunteering their time on your behalf, all while helping out a cause that you believe in! Who needs birthday gifts when your friends and family can give you their time to help make the world a better place?
Volunteering at the Teaching Farm
Veronica and a dozen or so of her friends took on a number of duties at the Teaching Farm, a place where folks come to learn about sustainable agriculture and how to grow and prepare healthier food. It’s a 6+ acre, organic, urban farm complete with a variety of harvests, bees, goats, free range chickens, and more.
At 9:00 AM on Saturday, May 31, 2014, I finally met Veronica in person to get her volunteer birthday party started. She was surrounded by a cheerful birthday bunch seemingly eager to give back and get their hands dirty on the Farm. I greeted her with balloons, and it was nice to finally meet the volunteer who had made such a special request and inspired me.
Joshua Paxson, Assistant Farm Manager, led the birthday crew at the Teaching Farm. While there, I learned a lot about efficient usage of resources on a farm. For instance, the volunteers’ first job was to pull weeds, which wouldn’t be tossed out but would be fed to the chickens. In turn, they’d be returned to the earth as fertilizer in an effort to help crops flourish.
The crew went right to work weeding nutgrass from rows of buckwheat and cowpeas. Much like a party, the atmosphere was fun and the conversation was certainly was lively.
Wrapping Up the Birthday Celebrations: Time for Reflection
After the volunteer birthday party, Joshua shared his thoughts:
Veronica’s birthday party was a success. In addition to weeding, the group finished the ends of our drip tape irrigation and plastic mulch for our tomatoes. This was a fun way for a group of motivated individuals to come together celebrating a birthday while collaborating to get some real work done at the farm. Many hands make farm work more fun.
Many hands make any type of volunteer work more fun, and I hope more folks come my way seeking help in planning ways to busy their hands with volunteer parties like Veronica’s.
Imagine a world where parties were less about decorations, food, and gifts and more about gathering with friends and family to make this world a little bit better.
It was a pleasure to plan with Veronica, and I hope she enjoyed her party on the Farm. I know our friends at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle were pleased to have the party guests volunteer to take on some much needed duties, and I think the chickens were happy too.
About Activate Good
Activate Good is a nonprofit volunteer center that activates volunteers to help charitable causes in our local community. We connect individuals, groups, and companies to volunteer needs with over 200 partnering nonprofits around the Triangle. Learn more and get involved at www.activategood.org. You can also follow us on Twitter @ActivateGood, or Become a Fan on Facebook!