10 Tips to Plan a Campus-wide Service Event

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 @ 10:53 AM

Every January, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day marks one of the major volunteer service events for colleges, universities, high schools, and even elementary schools across the country. This event brings hundreds of thousands of people together to serve on MLK Day. It has become a great way for students to work together in large numbers to better their surrounding communities. However, having an entire university population serve simultaneously is certainly not an easy accomplishment!

If you’re planning a campus-wide service event for the first time, have one coming up this semester, or would like to initiate one in the future, here are a 10 tips from seasoned veterans to ensure a successful and meaningful event.

1. Plan early and check the calendar. “These events require extensive planning, research, and communication,” said Misti McKeehen, director of PittServes, a university-wide initiative to help build the culture of service within the University of Pittsburgh and their surrounding community.20141018_113223_resized

In addition to their MLK Day of Service and orientation service projects, PittServes organizes the university’s annual Pitt Make A Difference Day (PMADD) every October. Last year, more than 3,200 students volunteered with approximately 115 organizations logging over 13,000 service hours in one day.

“The key is to plan early and identify a date that doesn’t conflict with other university events,” said McKeehen. “You don’t want to compete with other school activities like home football games.”

2. Choose community organizations that allow you to build a long-term partnership. When choosing organizations for your large-scale service event, consider ways the partnership can become a long-term opportunity for your students, not just a volunteer option for the day. McKeehen said it’s important to work with your community partners and encourage them to discuss ideas about why your volunteer service is vitally important.

Adam Lewandowski, associate director for the Center for Civic Engagement at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, said they also look at each partner’s ability to give an overview of their organization and what they want to do. “It’s critical to work with the community to help them have a voice,” said Lewandowski. “We view them as co-educators that help create the frame of reference. We understand each other and have shared goals to achieve through the day of service.”

Lewandowski said that 93% of the students who participated in their Orientation Day of Service are expected to volunteer again with one of their partner organizations, many of which offer work-study or service-learning programs.

3. Ensure service projects are meaningful and safe. It’s imperative that all community partners are fully aware of and agree to specific arrangements and commitments regarding providing meaningful activities in a safe environment. Partners should be able to share with the students why their service work is vital to their organization.

“There needs to be a connection of the proposed project with the mission of the organization,” said Lewandowski. “We ask our partners to craft a project and then we work closely with them to make sure to provide service activities that are helpful.”

For example, one of their partners provides horseback rides to developmentally disabled children. Their project involved clearing trails so that companions could walk along side the children riding the horses. “Students had a better understanding of the service opportunity and its impact once it was explained. They weren’t just there to clear weeds and bushes, but to help the children feel more secure while riding the horses.”

4. Get your students involved as early as possible. “It’s important to know how to recruit volunteers, Shaprsburgidentify good projects, and how to retain volunteers,” said McKeehen. “Event organizers need to know how to talk about community service to students and partners.”

“Our upperclassmen students serve as orientation leaders,” said Lewandowski. “They receive specific training to facilitate projects, as well as the guided reflection at the end of events. The student leaders coordinate the work at each site. It’s fantastic to have peer leadership. New students can relate to them and they can reflect on their impact and how to move forward from their experience.”

5. Communication is key. “Team leaders should call on partners throughout the planning process and the days leading up to the event to make sure everything is in order and that the organizations are ready for the volunteers,” said McKeehen.

You don’t want to show up with a bus filled with volunteers and no one at the organization is ready for them – or worse, not even there!

In addition, don’t forget to send out updates and reminders to your volunteers. Take advantage of social media sites to reach and recruit students. Send text alerts regarding start times or any last minute details.

6. Have a face-to-face and visit the site prior to the event to determine any special needs or 15042682762_4e91db0944_orequirements. “It’s of great value to travel into the community and meet with the organizers,” said Lewandowski. “Look at their space and the tools available.”

For example, if students are going to work outside around plants, trees, gardens, etc., make sure they have the proper tools and know to wear appropriate attire to avoid any potential mishaps like coming in contact with poison ivy!

7. Don’t forget transportation. If your budget allows, consider renting school buses or use partner sites within walking distance of your school. Lewandowski recommends doing the research to find a reliable transportation company. “Moving 550 people to 25 sites can get crazy,” he said.

8. Have clear guidelines, but remember to be flexible. Large-scale events make it somewhat difficult for individual students to actually choose their volunteer sites, but you could consider letting them request particular types of service. “When we have groups of students from sororities, clubs, etc., sign up, they are usually allowed to volunteer together at specific locations,” said McKeehen.

9. Always have a back-up plan. “Something always comes up,” said McKeehen. What happens if the buses don’t show up? What do you do if your students arrive at a site and no one is there? What’s the plan if it’s raining and your site is outside? Have a contingency plan and make sure your team knows what to do.

10. Remember to say, “Thank You,” to your partners and your volunteers! In addition, ask them for their feedback so you can make improvements for the next event!

Have you organized a school-wide service event? Tell us about your day of service activities and share your top planning tips with us! Need help managing your service program? Learn how NobleHour helps build, manage, & measure community engagement

 

Photos courtesy of University of Pittsburgh and Nazareth College

 

 

 

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. through Service

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 @ 01:14 PM

How will you be spending your holiday on January 19th? Will you be sleeping in, grateful for the shortened week to come? Watch another season of your latest Netflix obsession? Catch up on work or studying? Will you be treating it like any other long weekend? Or, will you join the thousands of people who will use this day to create stronger communities through service?

What is MLK Day? Why is it important?

The_time_is_always_right_to_do_what_isIn 1983, Congress signed legislation that created Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday in January. In honour of Dr. King’s vision for equality and justice through community efforts, MLK Day is the only federal holiday that is designated as a day of service. People from all walks of life are encouraged to improve the lives of those in their communities by taking a pause from their regular schedule to take action against pressing issues, such as civil rights, education, the environment, health, hunger, and poverty.

We can learn from Dr. King’s life by modeling his dedication to solving social issues through nonviolent community collaboration. It’s “A Day On, Not a Day Off” where we can explore our ability to make positive change through service. The hope is that this celebration will illustrate that those who volunteer can exercise tremendous influence in our communities.

Who will serve?

Anyone and everyone are encouraged to volunteer on MLK Day. It is important that both non-profits and businesses in the community collaborate. Non-profits can organize special service events to bring people together around a specific social cause. Businesses can help by sponsoring similar volunteer events or giving their employees time off for service. Both non-profit and for-profit organizations are key to the success of MLK Day.

How can you share your service?

Not only is it important to serve on MLK Day, it is also important to make your service visible to others in your community. Today it is easier than ever to promote service through social media.

Before MLK Day, share and invite people to volunteer with you through social media and by speaking with your friends, colleagues, and students. Organizations can also join the MLK Day Service network to connect with community members and access resources to help raise awareness and gain funds. Serving as a family can also help form a tradition of service and reinforce community values.

After your day of service, be sure to use social media to share how you volunteered. MLK Day is a chance to replace a lazy Monday off with meaningful action; we can replace one social media post or photo about ourselves with something we can do for others. With service also comes advocacy, and sharing your experiences and actions can help others become involved.

America’s Sunday Supper

A unique way of getting involved with MLK Day is to host a Sunday Supper. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream for bringing together people of different backgrounds in order to foster unity within communities, Sunday Suppers are a chance for people to come together and share a meal while discussing issues within their community.

Hosting these events is not very difficult. You or your organization will need to advertise your event and plan a discussion. If you are looking for funds, you could ask guests for donations, speak with local businesses such as grocery stores about donating food, or make the Sunday Supper simpler by simply having light refreshments and snacks. You might also want to use this event to collect material or monetary donations for your topic of discussion. For example, if you plan to discuss hunger, then ask guests to bring canned food donations.

Alternatively, you could incorporate a plan of action into your discussion. After discussing the important facts and causes of an issue, you could move the discussion into possible solutions and come up with a service project at a future date. Another option might be to plan a service project directly after the discussion.

When I was involved in hosting Sunday Suppers in the past, the program encouraged organizers to begin the meal with a film or documentary related to an issue and then end with a discussion about the issue afterwards. We hosted a Sunday Supper about health and obesity by showing the film The Weight of the Nation and a second event about violence featuring The Interrupters.

This year, documentaries about social issues are not available on the American Sunday Suppers event page, so getting appropriate films and the permission to show them may be more difficult. However, this shows how the idea of the Sunday Supper is versatile and adaptable. A Sunday Supper does not have to take place on Sunday nor does it have to be in the evening, but it is a chance to make the MLK weekend a dialogue about pressing issues in our community.

Get Involved

I hope that you will find some way to spend your MLK Day off by serving others. Volunteering is a special way to honour Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by continuing a tradition of service, as well as a way of honouring your community by giving back to those in need. Search for local MLK Day of Service events here on NobleHour and use the comments section to share how you plan to serve.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.nationalservice.gov/special-initiatives/days-service/martin-luther-king-jr-day-service/about-dr-king-and-mlk-day

http://www.handsonnetwork.org/three-ways-get-involved-mlk-day-service

http://www.pointsoflight.org/signature-events/martin-luther-king-jr-day-service

 

10 Simple New Year's Resolutions to Make A Difference in Your Community

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 @ 01:13 PM

New Year’s Resolutions shouldn’t be so hard that we give up on them before the end of the month. As I likenh_fb_newyears to tell my kids, bigger isn’t always better and sometimes less is more. In addition, in this day and age, I don’t think resolutions should just be about self-improvement, but about how we can help others while improving ourselves. Here are 10 simple resolutions that everyone can do throughout 2015 to feel better and make a difference in their community.

  1. Make an effort to perform a random act of kindness every week. Say hello to your neighbor. Offer a seat to someone standing on the subway. Wait 10 seconds before you lean on the car horn to let the car in front of you know that the light has changed! Let the person with two items go ahead of you in line at the grocery store. Yes, I know, these don’t seem like major things, but just think how you would feel if you were on the receiving end. 

  2. Bring good manners back in 2015! Start simple. Remember a time when we would say, “Excuse me?” when trying to politely get someone’s attention or when we bumped into someone? Manners go a long way, but unfortunately it seems we aren’t using them or passing them onto our youth anymore. Teach your kids manners through example. Forget all the new words added to the dictionary this year. Let’s make some old ones popular again. Make a resolution to add these words to your vocabulary: please, thank you and you’re welcome. Don’t hoard them for your closest friends and family. Share them liberally with everyone you interact with, especially those in retail, customer service, and public service. They need them the most! You’ll be surprised how a few kind words can make a difference in someone’s day.

    super_pantry3

  3. Whenever you notice your pantry is overflowing with too many cans and boxes of food or you can’t fit one more jacket in your coat closet, this is your cue to get a bag and donate extra non-perishable food and gently used clothing. Find your local food pantry or check with a local church for donation locations.

  4. Think about something that’s important to you and find a way to volunteer or donate to the cause. Sometimes, the commitment to volunteer a specific number of days or hours concerns people and may prevent them from helping. Decide what you can commit to do. Whether it’s once a week, once a month, or even a one-time event, you decide. Volunteering should make you feel good, not bad because you can’t do it all the time. There are opportunities everywhere in many forms. Take time to do the research and think about how you can use your talents to help others.

  5. Practice Patience – This is probably one of the most difficult resolutions since our world has become one where we want results immediately. However, if we all practiced just a little patience, we might not lose our tempers so quickly. And, if we couple patience with our small acts of kindness, just imagine how the world would truly be a nicer place.

  6. Write a letter or send a card to an old friend, someone going through a tough time or maybe an aunt, uncle, or grandparent living alone. Yes, I said, "write!" I didn't say text, Facebook message, or e-mail. Sit down with pen and paper and write about what’s going on in your life, share happy memories, and wish them the best. I don’t do this as often as I should, but I actually feel really good after writing a long letter to a friend or relative. I also absolutely love getting those letters in the mail too! Plus, you could also help extend the life of cursive writing!

    cyber_Grandma

  7. Explore new technology. For some, that’s really easy. For others, technology can be a little scary. Watch kids with iPads, smartphones, etc., and they have no fear when trying new apps or features. But for someone who has lost entire documents in the past, I’m always a little anxious of where each double tap will take me. I've found that, when given the chance, technology can make your life a lot easier. 

  8. Listen more than you talk – especially with your kids. This may be difficult if your kids are like mine and don’t necessarily like to talk, but this is where listening is crucial. When they finally do decide to open up, just let them take the lead and enjoy the fact that they do want to talk to you!

  9. Save some energy. We can all do a better job on this one. Turn off the lights as you leave the room. Don’t let the faucet run when you brush your teeth, put on a sweater and lower the heat, and leave the car at home and walk to your destination for quick trips. Getting out and walking through your neighborhood will also give you the opportunity to greet and get to know your neighbors!

  10. Help your community as a family. It can be something as simple as making sandwiches and small care packages for the homeless, checking in on or visiting with elderly neighbors, or shoveling sidewalks for those that can’t do it. You could even host your own neighborhood food drive, volunteer at a food pantry or help clean up a local park. Ask your children how they want to make a difference in the world and figure out a way to do it together.

Happy New Year! Thank you for reading our articles and being a part of the NobleHour community. May 2015 bring you much happiness, good health, and many opportunities to make a difference in your community!

Topics: Food Banks, volunteering, community service, community, random acts of kindness, Family, food drive, New Year's Resolutions, Good Manners

Online Retailers that Give Back to Charity

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 @ 12:49 AM

The commercial aspects of the holidays can sometimes cause us to question the spirit of giving, thanks, and compassion.  Check out these websites that give back a percentage of your purchase to charity.

PerkleGive a gift that benefits a local organization.

Perkle is a new platform that allows you to donate to various social causes while shopping from some of your favorite retailers. Donating though Perkle is just like online shopping. Many of the things you already buy online can be bought through Perkle, and a portion of the money is donated to a cause of your choice.

 “Lets make giving into an everyday action instead of a rare transaction” - Perkle.org

Many major online retailers are on Perkle, including Amazon, Expedia, Fandango, and Office Depot. For Perkle to donate part of your purchase, you have to go to the merchant’s website through a link from Perkle. There is no extra cost to shop through Perkle. 

A list of all the causes fundraising through Perkle is available on their website, and if you are interested in adding your own cause, you can easily create one.  Perkle reviews each application to ensure each cause meets its standards. Each cause must “accomplish something good for a person, group of people or society.” There is no cost for nonprofit organizations or consumers to use Perkle. There are only the benefits of turning everyday purchases into social good.

AmazonSmile

AmazonSmile sells all of the same products as Amazon.com, but 0.5% of your purchase is donated to charity. You can use your regular Amazon.com account to shop through AmazonSmile. When you shop through AmazonSmile, you can view everything available on Amazon.com, but the product description will specify whether it is eligible for donation through AmazonSmile.  

More than a million charities and non-profits are on AmazonSmile. When you log into Amazon Smile, a list of possible charities will appear, and you are asked to select one. However, you can change the organization to which you are donating at any time. Organizations can register to receive money from AmazonSmile by applying online and submitting information to prove the organization is legitimate. Registration is free. 


Shop With Meaning

Some online retailers give back to charities and non-profits.

Shop With Meaning is a website where you can find products made to raise funds for a particular cause. Shop With Meaning aims to be transparent, allowing consumers to know exactly how their purchase will create social good.  Information about the organizations is readily available so consumers can make cognizant choices about what they are buying. In some cases, a portion of the sales is donated. Some of the social causes supported by Shop With Meaning include providing clean water, combating human trafficking, and fighting poverty. 

Shop With Meaning also offers a "one for one" program, in which a company promises to donate one item for each purchased.  For example, if you buy a pair of shoes from a company participating in the “one for one” program on Shop With Meaning, another pair of shoes is donated to someone in need.  Details about who is benefiting these donations depend on the product, but the information is readily available. 


Chosing the Best Gift for Social Good

Unlike Perkle, the products on Shop With Meaning are not exclusively from mainstream retailers. Most of the products are from non-profits hoping to raise money from the sale of their products. However, the percentage of money donated from Shop With Meaning is generally greater than on Perkle.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  On Perkle, consumers can make donations simply by buying things they already would, while on Shop for Meaning one would most likely need to do a little more research to find what you are looking for. Both are terrific ways to make consumerism a little more meaningful.  

AmazonSmile seems to be a miniature version of Perkle, and the differences between Shop With Meaning and AmazonSmile are the same as those with Perkle. However, the impact of shopping with these two organizations is quite different. Perkle provides access to a variety of retailers while AmazonSmile is focused on one retailer. In addition, the average donation when shopping on Amazon.com through Perkle is 4.8%, which is a much higher percentage than the 0.5% that is donated through AmazonSmile. In order to make the same donation on AmazonSmile as Perkle, you would have to spend almost 10 times more. For example, to make a $5 donation on Perkle by shopping through the Amazon link, you have to spend approximately $104. To make the same donation by shopping through AmazonSmile, you would have to spend $1000. On AmazonSmile, the retailer benefits much more than the charity.

All three of these websites provide ways to give back while shopping. However, it’s important to remember that we cannot replace giving with consuming. While it’s a great idea to make your everyday purchases into a charitable event, keep in mind that the organizations are only receiving a fraction of your money. If you end up spending more money through these retailers in the name of charity, you should consider volunteering or donating your money  directly to the charity instead.

We hope you will check out some of these websites as you are shopping during the holiday season.  Making meaningful gifts for social good can become part of your regular spending routine. Share your experiences with us in the comments below!

5 Ways to use Service Learning to Run a Successful Food Drive

Posted by Dr. Kristin Joos and Shay Ernest on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 @ 11:52 AM

Service Learning Curriculum Ideas for Food Drive Projects that will Maximize Impact

Food_DriveFood drives are intended to educate students about food inequity and encourage students to take action. But is this what is indeed happening in class rooms and campuses? When not properly planned, food drives can do just the opposite, producing unintended consequences that reinforce or exacerbate stereotypes students hold about people living in poverty. Today we are providing ways to use service learning to overcome common challenges of food drives and maximize your intended meaningful impact. 

 

THE BIG PICTURE

Let us take one step back. To avoid negative outcomes, we need to first understand when there is an imbalance of education and action, food drives can unintentionally be piloted in the wrong direction. A private high school in San Francisco used to take students to the poorer parts of town to volunteer at soup kitchens and food banks for a few hours at a time. Malcolm Singer, the school director of community service-learning, explains what can happen when there is action without proper education, “What we realized, when we were driving them back to school, was that (students) were saying the same things about hunger and poverty that they had been saying the day before. We realized we were reinforcing the same negative stereotypes.”[1] The same problem often occurs with food drives-- as there is typically little or no interaction between students and the community their donations are intended to help, and food drives may include little education about the root causes of hunger and poverty. The way to create a food drive that positively impacts both students and the community is simple – educate students about the issues of social justice and show them how to take action. Once a student becomes aware of the injustices in the world, they aspire to be a part of the improvement.

EDUCATE

Nearly fifty million Americans face food insecurity.[2] Education should be centered on the root causes of hunger and poverty with curriculum focusing on who, what, where, and why. Because food insecurity is such a multifaceted issue, it lends itself to easily being incorporated in different areas of study. Below is a list of curriculum ideas for starting discussion and research projects (please keep in mind many of the topics below are not exclusive to the subject they are listed under as there is much intersection between the issues:

  • Health
    • Research effects of malnutrition, obesity, diabetes.
    • Compare rates of obesity in countries around the world with rates of malnutrition/hunger.
    • Examine nutritional value verse cost of food.
    • Look at MyPlate and USDA to understand what makes a healthy diet.
    • Create a healthy menu of one week for a family of four, price how much it cost to eat healthy.
  • Geography
    • Define and examine the characteristics of food deserts.
    • Identify the causes and consequences of food deserts.
    • How does the neighborhood influence the choices made about health.
    • Analyze the top five states with greatest food insecurity.
  • Economics
    • Research SNAP and the Farm Bill.
    • Create a formula to address the income needed to eliminate hunger; how much does it cost each week for a family of four to eat healthy? A single person?
    • Define the 2014 poverty guidelines.
    • Create a budget for a set area (include housing, electricity, water, transportation, insurances, phone, internet); using the area’s minimum wage at forty hours a week as income, analyze how much is left over for food; discuss how unforeseen circumstances (sickness, school expenses, etc.) can affect food purchases.
    • Determine what a family of four at poverty level would receive in government assistance, could they feed their family healthily for this amount? If so, for how long? What income is needed?
    • Have students track their own health budget for a week, compare to various income levels and assistance programs.
  • Social Sciences
    • Study laws and policies impacting rate of hunger, poverty, and lack of access to healthy food in America. Are new policies needed?
    • Compare current rates of hunger in the US to rates during the 1980s and 1990s.
    • Conduct comparative study for how others (various religions, cultures, ethnic groups, countries) approach the process of providing “charity” to the needy.
    • Comparative study on who is hungry (rural vs urban, ethnic groups, age, etc.)

ACTION

Now the fun part of service learning: taking action! Engage your students in a meaningful service project to enhance their learning and provide guided practice in social responsibility. Don’t just let the food drive end when sufficient amount of cans are collected, connect the students to the community. Finding a food bank to work with will probably be the easiest part out of everything; there are food banks all across the nation. Feeding America is one of the largest food bank networks providing over 3.3 billion meals trough food pantries and meal programs. They have 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries serving more than 46 million people each year. Feeding America has a search on their website to help you find you’re your local food bank. Conducting a food drive will require a little planning. Youth Service America provides an in-depth, mainly logistical guide to running a food drive, appropriate for the high school level. No Kid Hungry also has a guide to integrating service learning and eating healthy for classrooms. Please note that both of these materials can be adapted to fit students of different ages.

A FINAL THOUGHT

Canned food drives can be seen as placing a “Band-Aid” on the issues of hunger and food inequity. Service learning projects are the chance for a cure – an emerging generation of socially conscious students dedicated to empowering others, as well as themselves.

“My motto in life is 'If you think it, you can do it' and if we all apply that thought we can end hunger the world over.” (Dionne Warwick)


[1] http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-32-fall-2007/feature/beyond-canned-food-drive

[2] http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger/hunger-and-poverty/hunger-and-poverty-fact-sheet.html

Photo courtesy of Dolly Duplantier

Topics: Thanksgiving, Food Banks, Food Pantries, service learning, food drive, service learning projects

Teaching Kindness Through Compassion & Service

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 @ 03:11 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.


This week is World Kindness Week.  The movement is simple: it encourages people to do something kind for someone else. Everyone has the capacity to be kind, but people can also be self-centered and hateful. For our compassion to win over our vanity, we have to develop the habit of being kind. We have to be reminded why it is important to be kind. To begin the process of developing kindness as a character trait, it is important to learn it from a young age.  For this reason, I believe that educators should teach kindness alongside regular school curriculum.

Teaching kindness helps create connected communitiesFostering kindness between students helps build character by training students to think of the feelings of others before acting negatively. Some teachers hold regular class discussions relating to kindness and empathy. Sometimes, simply taking the time to ask students to talk about themselves can bring out kindness in their peers. Such discussions can be prompted by questions as simple as How are you? or What are you doing this weekend?

I believe that when educators create an environment in which students can share freely and voluntarily about themselves, it can bring a group of people together. When you begin to learn about another person and respect their time to speak and share in the discussion, it becomes more difficult to be judgemental or negative towards them.  

Teachers find that this technique works well among younger students. Engineering social relationships to focus on seeing one’s peers as people, rather than objects of criticism, promotes kindness. They become more inclined to help one another, even in simple ways such as holding open doors or complimenting each other. Elementary-aged students who participate in regular discussions to get to know one another develop better cooperation, empathy, and self-control in group work activities. When students become kinder to their peers, they are better equipped to care about strangers and their community. 

When it comes to teaching students to be kind to the community, service-learning and volunteering can be valuable tools. Taking students on a service-learning field trip can help them see how their actions can have a positive impact on others. Holding school-wide events to fundraise or collect items for donation will open students’ eyes to the problems facing others.

Service-learning projects can easily tie into a number of academic subjects. Students can read literature related to a particular issue, gather statistics surrounding a cause, study the history and progress of similar social issues, and gain research skills from cultivating this information. When students first learn how a problem is impacting the lives of others, they develop empathy and want to formulate solutions for these issues. Service-learning and volunteering teaches kindness by allowing students to discover the kindness within themselves. This is more effective than being instructed on what kindness is. At the end of a service project, students can not only say that their service was helpful to others, but they can feel the growth of their own creativity, imagination, and inner compassion. 

Students serve and build compassion.

Most importantly, educators can teach kindness by leading by example. Teachers play an important role in forming both a student’s intellectual and emotional abilities. By showing kindness to students, teachers can be more encouraging and help students develop better self-esteem. Being understanding toward students teaches them to be understanding towards their peers.  Rather than punishing students for failing to meet expectations, teachers should be willing to open a dialogue about why a problem is occurring and what can be done to fix it. Sometimes a student may simply be preoccupied because of something at home, a problem with their friends, or difficulty understanding the material. These small conversations can help solve the root cause of an issue and prevent it from happening again. Students remember the compassion of teachers who help them to succeed, and will mimic the same compassion toward the people they encounter in the future. 

If we all make conscious efforts to be kind, we can build stronger and more meaningful relationships with individuals, our communities, and the world.  What actions will you take to celebrate World Kindness Week?

 

Topics: kindness, bullying prevention, service

Universities Engage Students & Community at Day of Service Events

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 @ 08:03 AM

When I look back on my college days, I have very fond memories. I remember going to classes, and hanging on the quad with friends, as well as attending football and basketball games, concerts, and events.  While I was very active in service organizations in high school, for some reason I didn’t really pursue it in college. I volunteered with my sorority, helped at a few campus-related events, and also took part in a number of unpaid internships, but service wasn’t a major component back in my day, at least for me. I do remember my university had a service club, but I never really explored it. However, over the last decade or so, I’ve noticed a transformation occurring in students and the universities they attend. Students are more focused on volunteering and universities are working hard to engage them, as well as provide them with opportunities to serve the surrounding community.

Many schools now incorporate days of service with freshmen orientation or at the start of the school year. PIttservesWhat a great way to get students involved with their school and the neighboring community.  Let’s face it, a lot of young people who attend out of state schools never really get a chance to learn about the city they reside in for the next four years. Offering a day of service broadens their horizon and makes them realize there is a much bigger community just outside campus. Not only does the day of service  provide young adults with an opportunity to learn more about the needs of their college town, but it can also help them develop a greater sense of pride and accomplishment from using their skills to help their community. In addition to introducing new students to the value of service, it’s a perfect way to get to know other people with similar interests.

While I thought these campus-wide service events were a fairly new concept, I’ve learned otherwise. In the mid 1980’s, college students were sometimes portrayed as materialistic, self-absorbed, and more interested in making money than helping others. (Hmm, I did graduate in the mid-80’s!) However, a group of university presidents disagreed with this description and created Campus Compact, a coalition of college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the public purpose of education.  They believed that many students on campus were involved in community service and more would participate if proper encouragement and supportive structures were provided.

Boy, were they right. Colleges throughout the U.S. now have departments dedicated to engaging their students to perform public service with neighboring community partners. Take a look at any university’s club listing and you’ll also see a large number of student organizations dedicated just to service. Check out their calendar and you’ll find multiple volunteer events organized over the course of the school year, including campus-wide days of service where hundreds of students come together and share their time and talent throughout their city.

For the past 20 years, Nazareth College has held their Orientation Day of Service program to educate newNazareth_College students about the school’s mission and tradition of community engagement and to encourage students to be active members of the community. The event brought together 550 volunteers who traveled to one of 25 service sites in the Rochester area and performed 1,650 service hours. The students also learned about the community’s challenges and resources and how they could give back by providing needed services.

“We have an ongoing relationship with many of our partners,” said Adam Lewandowski, associate director for the college’s Center for Civic Engagement. “The Orientation Day of Service is an introduction for our students. It’s just one piece of our relationship.”

Of the 550 student volunteers, Lewandowski said 93% are expected to participate again in some form of service with their partner organizations, many of which also offer work-study or service-learning programs.

The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. held its 6th annual Freshman Day of Service in September. Students, faculty, and staff logged over 8,000 community service hours in one day! More than 2,400 freshmen worked alongside 44 local partners throughout the metropolitan D.C. area. Volunteers participated in community projects focusing on environmental sustainability, veterans’ affairs, community beautification, and healthy living. The goal was to introduce students to a variety of service opportunities.

In 2012, the University of Pittsburgh implemented their Orientation Day of Service to start the school year off with service and have a positive impact on their community.

“Each year we welcome hundreds of incoming students to participate in an afternoon of service to their community,” said Misti McKeehen, director of PittServes, a university-wide initiative to help build the culture of service within their campus and community.

According to McKeehen, approximately 667 new students performed over 2,000 service hours for over 20 organizations before even stepping foot in the classroom! While students typically learn about the university and their new campus during orientation activities, the day of service provided an opportunity to also hear about their community.

McKeehen said the orientation event acts as a catalyst and sets the act of service in motion for students to be committed to helping their community and gaining personal, academic, and career experience through volunteerism. Students have the opportunity to learn about new organizations and may be motivated to continue volunteering with that group during the year. “It allows them to see a different part of the Pittsburgh community in a different way. To see this before school even starts is huge.”

The University of Pittsburgh continues its’ mission of service throughout the school year. On October 18, IMG_3988they held their 7th annual Pitt Make A Difference Day, a University-wide service day held with 3,274 students serving over 115 organizations throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. Volunteers logged more than 13,000 hours in one day!

This event also kicked-off the school’s first annual Make A Difference Month to highlight the school’s ongoing commitment to service. “We want to engage the students so they can see their impact,” said McKeehen, who hopes volunteers using NobleHour to track their service will log over 1,000 hours by the end of the month-long event.

As an added incentive to participating, McKeehen said the student with the highest number of tracked hours will be able to make a service grant to the student organization of their choice. In addition, the student group with the highest average number of hours per member will also receive a grant to continue service.

Like many other universities, McKeehen said PittServes will also participate in the MLK Day of Service next semester, as well as a number of school-wide volunteer events in the spring. She believes the rise in public service is a result of a more connected world. “We see more and do more.”

When students get together with friends to help with disaster relief, or volunteer at a shelter or food bank, they share that experience on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. All of a sudden, 500 people know about their positive experience and wish they had been a part of it or maybe they will want to participate next time.

It’s like that old shampoo commercial – You tell two friends and then they’ll tell two friends and so on and so on. But now, it’s telling hundreds of friends and so on. According to Campus Connect, during the 2011-2012 academic year, 44% of students participated in some form of community engagement. These community engagement activities contributed to an estimated $9.7 billion in service to their communities. Let’s hope universities keep engaging their students and volunteers keep sharing their impact!

Does your school have a campus-wide day of service? Tell us about the Noble Impact you’re making in your community.

photos courtesy of University of PIttsburgh and Nazareth College

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: volunteering, community engagement, community service, service, Orientation, Day of Service, campus-wide service, Orientation Day of Service, MakeADifferenceDay

Six Ways to Honor Veterans All Year Long

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 @ 07:56 AM

2185-12748859921mTqVeterans Day is celebrated on November 11. Established in 1954, the federal holiday honors the service of all U.S. military veterans. Seems to me though, these brave men and women should be honored every day of the year. Both my parents were Marines. My father retired as a Colonel and my mother a Captain. I believe she was in one of the first classes of women Marines, one of her proudest accomplishments. I never fully realized the importance of their commitment until I was an adult. Maybe it’s because they didn’t talk about it that often. I’m not really sure. I do feel that it is extremely important for all of us to recognize our troops and our Veterans and to teach our children about the sacrifices made.

In the military, “Got Your 6” means “I’ve Got Your Back.” In WWI, fighter pilots referenced the rear of an airplane as the six o’clock position. This term emphasizes the way military members look out for each other. Now it’s our turn - on Veterans Day and year round, here are six ways you, your family and your community can honor all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

  1. Send a letter of thanks to courageous Veterans. This simple act is so meaningful and can have a lasting impact. In fact, it is one of Operation Gratitude’s most urgent needs. Send a card to someone you know who has served in the Military or you can send multiple letters that fit in a standard size business envelope to Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization that seeks to meet the needs of and express appreciation to Active Duty and Veteran communities. They will forward the letters to Veterans. If you know a Veteran that would appreciate Letters of Gratitude, you can send his or her name, the war in which they served and their USPS address to opgratvolunteer1@yahoo.com.
  2.  Organize a collection drive or a “Care Kit Assembly” event. Engage friends and family, as well as church and school groups to collect needed items for Veterans. Operation Gratitude’s program delivers thousands of care packages to Military Veterans across the country. VA hospitals, nursing homes, and support organizations make requests for specific items. Their wish lists include everything from hats and scarves, to personal electronics, non-perishable snacks, and gift cards. You can also send donations directly through Amazon.com or donate to Operation Gratitude. Every $15 can cover the assembly and shipping costs to send packages.
  3. Recycle for Veterans! Collect old cell phones, iPads, and iPods, as well as inkjet cartridges, and laptop computers. Operation Gratitude receives money for items donated in their name and students can earn service hours while helping the environment!
  4. Take a Veteran to School Day.™  Show the Veterans in your community how much you value their commitment and sacrifice. Students can learn about character and strength, when Veterans bring history to life by sharing their stories.
  5. Volunteer at your local Veterans facility. The US Department of Veterans Affairs website can help you find the nearest facility in your state. 
  6. Use social media to #ThankAVet and help raise money! The HISTORY channel’s Thank A Vet social campaign will donate $1 for each Tweet using #ThankAVet. Donations will support three non-profits dedicated to helping Veterans: Team Rubicon, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), and America's VetDogs.

Continue to honor our Veterans everyday. Let them know, "You've Got their 6!" Tell us about the special men and women in your life that have served our country! Thank you to our Veterans for your bravery and your sacrifice.

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Topics: Veterans Day, Honoring Veterans

Being Aware of Raising Awareness

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 11:20 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

The end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is approaching and like many awareness campaigns, it has come under some criticism. Some argue that companies and large corporations get carried away jumping on the “pink bandwagon” in order to sell more, while donating a very small portion of money to actual research. The happy, positive pink ribbons perhaps detract from the true devastation of this disease and some survivors feel alienated by Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Furthermore, some of these companies, despite advertising about the fight against breast cancer, continue to use harmful chemicals, including carcinogens—cancer-causing chemicals—, in their production. Though these companies may appear to have good intentions, and indeed their vast visibility no doubt does raise awareness, it falls to consumers to be fully aware of the repercussions of their purchases. 
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That’s not to say large corporations are the only ones at fault.  Critics also point to the average person for propagating some of the false-promises of simply raising awareness.  Social media makes it increasingly easy to promote “awareness” through one’s personal online presence.  However, it’s important to note that this heightened awareness should lead to more than just likes and retweets.  It’s important that awareness ignites action and empowers people with knowledge.

Charlotte Alter writes in Time Magazine, “‘Awareness’ is a virus that preys on well-meaning minds. It tricks us into thinking that thought is the same as action, that acknowledging something is the same as fixing it. Awareness is a problem masquerading as a solution.” 

It is important that when promoting awareness that our actions feed the momentum of a cause and not our vain desire to share with the digital world that we are altruistically aware of the cause.  A recent example of effective social media awareness is the ALS ice bucket challenge, which created immense amounts of awareness about this disease while also raising funds for research.  However, one might also argue that advertising one’s ability to waste clean water is a display of developed-world privilege, as almost 800 million people have little to no access to clean water. In terms of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, of course, no one is arguing against promoting awareness and preventative measures for breast cancer, but critics like Alter are arguing for better, more impactful awareness—awareness that starts action.  Rather than just hashtagging and liking, perhaps one can also make a donation to breast cancer research.  The key is to use our awareness to truly empower ourselves and others with knowledge.

In response to the critics of rampant, vain social media awareness, some people still argue that awareness campaigns alone are enough. As Scott Davis writes in Forbes, “If not a single extra dollar is raised in October, but one woman detects her early-stage breast cancer as a result of “going pink” awareness, then it is all worth it.” 

I’ll leave it for you to decide.  To what extent are you truly promoting awareness, and to what extent is that awareness igniting impactful change? 

Related: 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Opportunities to make a difference

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Opportunities to make a difference

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 @ 05:07 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Men can also have breast cancer, accounting for about 1% of cases. When detected early in the localized stage, over 98% of patients survive five years or beyond, according to the National Cancer Institute. The goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to encourage women to learn about the risk factors and to learn about taking early detection measures. Continue reading to learn how you can get involved. cancer-389921_640

Donate: Donating to breast cancer research is a simple way to get involved. Some organizations that collect donations for research include but are not limited to the Susan G. Komen organization, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. Donating is a direct, simple way to contribute to research that will help lead to better treatments and saving lives.

Fundraise and Organize: Organizing a fundraising event can encourage other people to donate with you. There are several ways to fundraise. Creating a donation page and sharing it online with friends and family can encourage people to make contributions. Additionally, you can be more creative by organizing your own fundraising event. The same organizations that collect donations (listed above) and many other online resources can provide information and resources on how to organize a fundraising event. If you take a look around at your social groups, you are sure to find a sizable amount of people whom you can encourage to participate. Whether its in your workplace, school, neighborhood, or immediate family and friends, it only takes one person to encourage others to make a positive change.

Volunteer: If you aren’t up for starting your own event but still want to be involved, you can find someone else’s event to volunteer for in your area. There are also many other volutneer opportunities that can connect you with a cause.

Share: Raising awareness about breast cancer is not just about donating time and money; it is also about empowering others. When people know more, they are better equipped they are to ensure their health and the health of those near to them. Sharing information through social media or word of mouth is a great way to help spread awareness to the people you know. Learn more the risk factors, or learn about early detection.

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