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.

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  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!

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  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

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

10 Ways to Celebrate Grandparents Day

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Sun, Sep 07, 2014 @ 03:37 PM

National Grandparents Day is Sunday, September 7. Despite popular belief in my household, Hallmark™ mother-blk-drs-300did not create this holiday. In fact the idea originated in 1970 when Marian McQuade, a housewife in West Virginia, initiated a grassroots campaign to set aside a special day just for Grandparents. McQuade felt deeply about the lonely elderly in nursing homes and was also a tireless advocate for senior citizens rights. After three years of working with civic, business, church, and political leaders, West Virginia Governor Arch A. Moore proclaimed the first National Grandparents Day. McQuade didn’t stop there. She petitioned governors in 49 states to follow West Virginia’s lead and set aside a Grandparents Day. Forty-three of those states declared it a holiday. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day as the official National Grandparents Day.

McQuade passed away in 2008, but many of her descendants carry on her legacy through the National Grandparents Day Council, a non-profit established to protect and promote the original intent of National Grandparents Day as championing the elderly.

So in honor of Marian McQuade and all the wonderful grandparents out there, we’ve come up with a list of 10 ways to celebrate the day and honor your grandparents! Whether they are near or far, you can honor them year round.

  1. Pick up some take-out, bring your laptop and your cell phone, and get grandma and grandpa connected! Show them how to use e-mail and Facebook to connect with friends and family that live out of town. Set them up with Skype or FaceTime so they can see their grandkids! Turn them in to cyber seniors and then, make sure you can keep up with them!
  2. Help them create a YouTube video! Get Grandma to share her secret recipe for those chocolate chipcyber_Grandma cookies! 
  3. Get that video camera out or charge up your cell phone and start asking questions! Grandma and Grandpa have a lot of great stories! Ask them about what life was like when they were your age! Record their history so you have a keepsake and can share with others!
  4. I bet there’s a box of old photos at your grandparents’ house! Go old school and pick up an album or scrapbook. Spend the afternoon going through and labeling the photos. Let Grandpa share some great stories about the one that got away! Or, gather the photos, scan them, and add them to their new Facebook page! You can also put the photos on a disk and create a video with music for a great birthday or Christmas present!
  5. Pick up some poster board or get on Ancestry.com and create your family tree
  6. Take your grandparents to one of their favorite restaurants for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Turn off the phone, ask some questions, and listen!
  7. Get a group together to visit the elderly in nursing homes. Check in on elderly neighbors.  
  8. Take your grandparents to the movies or catch a baseball game together!
  9. Shop and cook one of your grandma’s favorite recipes together!
  10. Find opportunities to volunteer together! Helping others can make you both feel great! 

Enjoy this day and every day with your grandparents. Make sure Grandma and Grandpa post a comment about their special day on our NobleHour Facebook page! 

 

Photo of Marian McQuade courtesy of National Grandparents Day

Photo: Dolly Duplantier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: volunteering, random acts of kindness, technology, connecting communities, social media, Grandparents Day, Family

Students Should Take Advantage of All College Has to Offer

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 02:59 PM

There are many words I would prefer my children not use (even though they’ve heard a few of them at home!). However, there are three words I hope I never hear them say - "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda!" (Okay, technically those aren’t words, but I’m sure you get my meaning.)

As my children begin their college years, I want them to take advantage of everything this time in their life has to offer. It’s not just about getting your money’s worth – although that’s an important lesson – whether you are paying tuition or your kids are taking out loans. This is the time to take risks. Try new things. Meet new people. Step out of your comfort zone.

There are many things I wish I had done during my college years (and maybe a few I wish I had not done!). I wish I had developed more of a relationship with teachers and sought their advice. I also wish I had taken more advantage of clubs, school organizations, and service work, but I let self-doubt and fear prevent me from taking those risks. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with my life. I had a wonderful college experience. Hindsight is 20/20. Things happen for a reason, but I don’t want my kids to have regrets about not taking chances. Four years (or maybe five or six!) go by very quickly. It’s a great time of life to discover who you are, find friends with different opinions and passions, and transition from child to adult. So, as my second son begins this new phase, I’ve consulted the highest authorities – nostalgic parents, friends, and recent college graduates to offer their words of wisdom. Will he listen? I honestly don’t know. Maybe, though, these pearls of wisdom will remain in the back of his mind when an opportunity presents itself. And, instead of looking the other way because it might require effort and risk, he might just hear that little voice of mine and decide to go for it.

So, here’s a quick list for college students to consider as they get ready for school. If those of us that have graduated could go back, these are the things we would do differently! 

Wish Lists from the "Woulda Coulda Shoulda’s"lsutiger_stadium

1. I wish I had gone to more events...ballgames, rallies, etc.

2. I wish I had served on a student government board.

3. I wish I had spent more time meeting individually with professors to pick their brains. I view it as a missed opportunity.

4. I wish I had done more volunteering.

5. I wish I had joined an Engineering club.

6. Sometimes, I wish I had gone to school out of town.

7. I wish I had taken my undergraduate studies more seriously.

8. I wish I had understood that it wasn't about the points to get a certain grade, but that it should have been about really learning. Graduate school was a rude awakening.

9. I wish I had gone to college with a more open mind and not a specific major.

10. I wish I had switched majors.

11. I wish I had traveled abroad.

12. I wish I had gone to the Bruce Springsteen concert rather than study for an anatomy test. (Okay, I’m not advocating choosing a concert over studying. However, every student needs to take a break once in a while. It’s good to recharge! And, no, this wasn’t me.)

10 Suggestions from current students, teachers and alums:

1. Go to Class!

2. Get out there and enjoy it all. Take it seriously and always do your best.

3. Sign up for a club.

4. Utilize resources available on campus, including services like writing centers and tutoring.10264317_10152504222274744_8343547831175655741_n

5. Volunteer on campus or at local organizations. Take time to help others.

6. Develop a good relationship with your professors. They can be great mentors. Take advantage of their office hours. You want the people who determine your grades to know your name and that you're working hard. They can also clarify course material, provide guidance on papers, and offer tips on how to prepare for tests.

7. Study abroad for a full year. (If a year is too long for you, consider studying abroad for one semester, the summer, or holiday breaks.)

8. Take computer classes even if they are not required for your major.

9. Get to know the history and traditions of your school.

10. Reach out and meet new people.

What are your suggestions and tips for incoming freshmen and current college students? Did we miss anything? Share your words of wisdom here!

 

 Photo credit: Dolly Duplantier & Delta Upsilon, Global Service Initiative Trip 

Topics: back to school, education, volunteering, higher ed, service, graduates, opportunities, college major, higher education, college, involvement, College advice

A Case for Volunteering with Family

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 @ 03:49 PM

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

As summer arrives and the school year comes to an end, there is time for families to spend more time together.  Many families look forward to going on vacation, going to the park, relaxing at the pool, or spending more time at home together. But what about spending more time volunteering in the community? This summer, as you put together plans for a fun and relaxing summer, be sure to set aside some time to volunteer as a family.  When families volunteer together, they increase the number of helping hands working to help others while also spending quality time together and strengthening their bond as a family.

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Volunteering as a family provides more help to the community, but it is also full of learning experiences and benefits for your family. When families volunteer together, they are able to gain greater insight into social issues.  Volunteering as a family often leads to more meaningful reflection after and during your volunteer project.  Around the dinner table or in the car ride home, families are more likely to engage in discussions that give perspective on the community issues they hope to tackle and how they can play a role in improving a situation.

Both children and adults can learn new skills from volunteering, or they can use the knowledge they already have and apply it to situations where they can make a positive impact.  By volunteering together, families also work on problem solving skills and communication.  This enables them to accomplish more as volunteers, but also helps families become more supportive as they transfer these conflict-resolution skills to their relationship as a family.  The benefits of volunteering as a family are important for all age groups, but the impact service can have on children also makes it a valuable parenting tool.

Children learn by doing, and volunteering helps reinforce positive behaviours and habits. Children who volunteer and observe their parents volunteering will be more likely to volunteer in the future.  In addition, volunteering has the capacity to enrich children’s learning and development. Volunteering helps improve self-esteem and social skills.  It shows children that they have the ability to make a positive impact. By learning to be comfortable working with others, children become more confident and start establishing leadership while still being humbled by the work they are doing.  They also learn responsibility, as they often will be assigned to work on a particular task during the course of a volunteer project. 

Children can also learn compassion through volunteering; in becoming more confident leaders and responsible individuals, they are compelled to treat others with kindness.  In addition to helping develop emotional health, volunteering can also increase physical health.  Furthermore, children who volunteer are also less likely to engage in at-risk behaviour as they grow up.  Volunteering as a family ensures that the next generation in a community will be both accountable and caring to others. 

When deciding how your family can help out in your community, it is important to find opportunities that interest everyone in the family. Volunteering should not feel like a chore; it should be something everyone enjoys.  To find volunteer opportunities in your community, consider the types of activities your family already enjoys and discuss as a family what important community issues you would like to tackle.  Different volunteer opportunities also serve to teach different lessons.  For example, if your family likes being active outdoors, outdoor clean-ups in parks, rivers, or beaches would be the best fit.  These types of service opportunities reinforce your family’s responsibility to the environment.  If your family is more interested in giving their time to people, working at food banks or homeless shelters and visiting nursing homes helps those in need in your community. 

Alternatively, if your family cannot agree on an opportunity, you can take turns supporting each other.  For example, if one family member wants to participate in a fundraiser, marathon, or sporting event, the other members of the family could find opportunities to help facilitate these events.  If some family members are more active and like to be the organizers and planers of a community project, the other family members can still be supportive by doing little things like stuffing envelopes, folding brochures, passing out flyers, or participating as volunteers on the day of the event.  However, what your family decides to do is not as important as the fact that you are doing it together.

When volunteering as a family, it is also important to have an open mind about your definition of family.  Family does not have to be confined to your immediate family nor to what others may consider to be the definition of family.  There’s no reason grandparents cannot volunteer with grandchildren or cousins cannot volunteer together.  In today’s world the meaning of family is becoming more open and complex than before.  In simple terms, family is the people you love and care about.  Volunteering serves to strengthen these relationships, and when we strengthen the relationships in our families, we reinforce the bonds at the root of our communities.

 

Image used through a Creative Commons License via vastateparksstaff

 

Topics: volunteering, community, opportunities

How Service & Service-Learning Spark Social Justice

Posted by Dr. Kristin Joos and Liz Harlan on Tue, May 20, 2014 @ 07:30 AM


"Empowering NobleLeaders": How Service & Service-Learning Spark Social Justice

As mentioned in our last “Empowering NobleLeaders” post where we highlighted this year’s 25th annual National Service Learning Conference as well as the Global Youth Service Day, the numbers of students, faculty, administrators, and community organizers who take volunteerism to the next level with service learning and active civic engagement are incredible, increasing, and very much needed in our society today. Not only are the opportunities to serve one’s community plentiful and diverse, so are the issues surrounding poverty, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, civil rights and immigration status in Students combat social problems through service. our local and global communities[i]. In our society, where it seems resources are increasingly scarce, the need for students to learn about and take action towards social and environmental problems is critical for the future of a just & peaceful society, and it contributes towards the ability for any person from any background to realize their potential in the society where they live and work.

More and more, teachers of a variety of grade levels, including K-12 and higher education, are employing service learning curriculum to guide students in addressing and reflecting on complex social issues while learning about course material and earning grades. Service learning cultivates social awareness, community engagement, problem-solving skills, and initiative for both learning and taking action. Service learning can provide the ultimate experiential education--- motivating students to explore the complexity of intertwined community needs, use their knowledge to do something about them, and continue to work for change even after a final grade is made. According to Cathryn Berger Kaye and Maureen Connolly, two innovative leaders in curriculum for service learning, in their article Social Justice and Service Learning,

“The issues we face as a planet have risen to a level that calls us all into action. We can all be engaged in learning about and addressing critical interrelated issues-- hunger, potable water, climate change, population migration, loss of habitat, illiteracy, gun violence, war-- while contributing to the betterment of ourselves and others.”[ii]

Service learning creates meaningful connections between people, helping us to feel invested in our community and emphatic for less fortunate people all over world. Through helping others, students gain valuable social and self awareness. When service is part of academic curriculum, there is great potential for significant civic engagement, enhanced active learning, and using classroom knowledge for a public purpose or community impact. Berger Kaye has found that service learning, when effectively engaged, leads to the development of students into change agents who are aware and passionate about lessening the inequities and injustices created by social structures in their communities[iii] – the foundation for the ability of service to spark social justice.

 Students of all ages often complain that the material they learn in certain classes is not useful and thus focus only on short term memorization for the final exam. 

Discover even more benefits of service-learning Service learning curriculum directly combats this occurrence through an initial survey of student interests, skills, and talents in addition to a social analysis of the community issues and needs being studied in relation to course material. If students feel connected to or personalize a community issue, they are more motivated to learn about and improve the situation. It is important for service learning educators to always consider the community needs first to create the most useful solutions as well as to emphasize for their students the importance of collective social justice and well-being.

Social justice is both a process and a goal. The process focuses on the understanding and change of social structures that create inequality. The goal is a global community with social responsibility toward and with others, where resources are equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.[iv]

Service learning is the key to educating students and preparing them to live purposeful, civically engaged, and socially responsible lives in the 21st century. General guidelines and more detailed service learning resources for both educators and students can be found in Don’t Just Count Your Hours, Make Your Hours Count. Not only is it in the students’ best interest to explore community engagement for both altruistic and practical reasons, today it is an educator's responsibility to provide what is needed for students to recognize, understand, and ultimately address the real life social issues learned in the classroom. The world needs innovative leaders to solve complex national and social issues and students deserve an education that will prepare them for changemaker roles. It is no longer enough to keep students engaged in class-- they must become engaged in their communities in ways that both alleviate suffering or inequality for others as well as bring meaning to the articles, books, and historical accounts read throughout the course. This takes special preparation and commitment, but truly makes the classroom experience more enjoyable for students and teachers alike. Service Learning for Social Change: A Curriculum Development Workbook is a wonderful tool for teachers exploring how to incorporate service learning created by the Service Learning Institute at California State University, Monterey Bay.

As Helen Keller said, “Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” Today this critical pursuit must start with the education and service of students.

 

[i]
[i] Berger Kaye, Cathryn & Connolly, Maureen. “Social Justice and Service Learning.”CBK Associates, 2013.

[ii][ii] Berger Kaye, Cathryn & Connolly, Maureen. “Social Justice and Service Learning.”CBK Associates, 2013.

[iii][iii] Berger Kaye, Cathryn & Connolly, Maureen. “Social Justice and Service Learning.”CBK Associates, 2013.

[iv][iv]http://studentactivities.tamu.edu/site_files/Definitions%20Related%20to%20Service.pdf. Texas A&M Department of Student Activities, 2009.

 

Start measuring the impact of your service-learning initiatives.

Topics: service learning, volunteering, social justice

Why Students Should Track Service Hours

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Mon, May 19, 2014 @ 10:43 AM

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

When you demonstrate how much time you put into something, you show how much of yourself you are willing to give for it.  Tracking hours is the simplest, most efficient, and most accessible way to demonstrate your community engaemenet and show what is important to you.  Hour tracking is a valuable tool for any volunteer because it allows you to keep a record of your progress and hard work.

Students can keep track of their volunteer hours for scholarships, awards, reflection and other purposes.

Particularly for students, hour tracking helps display your volunteerism for college admissions, scholarships, grants, and leadership opportunities.  For students with packed schedules, keeping track of these hours is the easiest way to prevent leaving out your accomplishments on applications.  Additionally, having more hours to show will help you stand out among other applicants, as well as help provide inspiration and substance for application essays. By taking a few minutes to enter each activity, you save yourself time and stress in the long run, as trying to remember and count all your volunteer work after several years is difficult.  Using tools like NobleHour saves you the trouble of having to go through school records or forms to verify your volunteer work.  Once you track your hours online, they are saved and you can share them at anytime.

"There are some hours that I didn’t log, but I did keep track of a lot of them because it made me feel happy for helping out and seeing how much I’ve contributed. I think [tracking hours] is pretty valuable because it allows you to see how much you’re doing, encourage you to work for more, and just be able to be organized about what you are doing.  It’s cool because you can see what you’ve contributed to what area.  For example, I’ve done a lot of service work at nursing homes and with the elderly, but not as much with the youth.  The hour tracking allows me to get a full grasp of that," said Tiffany, a senior at Grimsley High School. Tiffany enjoys volunteering and has tracked 293 hours in the past three years.

Altruistic volunteers may see tracking hours as a mere vanity.  However, this certainly is not the case. For civically engaged young people, service is done to the beating of their hearts not to the ticking of a stopwatch.  Fear that their natural compulsion to serve may be masked by numbers leads some students to feel that counting their service hours cheapens the work they have done.  However, tracking volunteer hours is not egotistic or selfish.  It is simply another way of showing your dedication and commitment to a particular cause or to volunteerism in general.  Sometimes seeing the amount of time put into a cause helps you reflect on why it was important to get involved, who benefited from the time you gave, what you learned from your hours of experience, and why you will continue to serve.  Showing how much time you have put into your community also shows your passion for service, and helps the organization you work with understand its impact.  

9675_72608_Gcvb7SgK5nOIN9K_gcs_impact_400x460_thumb"I am not keeping track of hours for a reward.  I just like to see what areas I have done a lot of work in and areas I could work to improve my community more.  I think tracking hours could definitely be something that people do for an award, but personally, I am able to not think about that.  I’ve received certificates thanking me for service, but hour tracking doesn’t affect meaning.  It allows you to visualize.  It’s truly not about how many hours you do, but how you use them and the difference you make.  I just see the hours tracking as a tool for organization," Tiffany said.

Though you may not feel that you will need to keep track of your hours, you never know down the road when you will need a record of the work you have done.  Even if you have already completed the required number of hours for school or awards, it helps to continue the practice of tracking hours because it shows how you have grown through helping your community and how you continue to pledge your time to others.  Having a holistic record of your volunteer hours attests to your leadership abilities, your investment in the community, and the value of your time and energy. 

Keeping records of volunteer hours allows students to manage their time and reflect on the lessons they have learned from volunteering.  It also keeps students accountable by safeguarding records and verification of the hours completed.  Start tracking your Noble Impact ™ today.

 

Topics: service learning, volunteering, community engagement, college admissions

Getting Students Excited for Service

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

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

A more caring world would be comprised of more people using their time to improve their community.  However many people do not feel motivated to serve.  The best way to overcome this obstacle is to instil a sense of obligation to one’s community at an early age.  Motivating young people to volunteer can seem daunting at first because teens are perceived as being apathetic and selfish.  However, with the correct approach, bringing out the compassionate side in teens is less challenging than it may seem.  To encourage young people to become civically engaged, you must first appeal to their interests by listening and guiding them toward service opportunities that they will learn and grow from the most.  Motivating students to serve is less challenging than it seems.

Becoming influential in young people’s lives means earning their respect. Students will be more open to your ideas if you become relatable without being artificial.  Trying to relate to young people by pretending to be one of them will only have their eyes rolling at you. Treat them as you would anyone else, and be yourself.  Young people want to feel that your energy and enthusiasm is a genuine part of who you are.  They don’t want to hear a sales-pitch type speech about volunteerism that blatantly attempts to appeal a younger generation.  To do this you must break the predisposition that adults don’t trust teens and vice versa.  

Though seemingly counterintuitive, young people will sooner respect and follow you if you treat them as an equal.  Show them you are someone they want to respect and listen to rather than someone they must follow.  An important step in establishing this relationship is so engage them in meaningful conversation. Using authoritative language full of rigid directions and procedures is ineffective because in truth, no one really likes being told what to do.  People like to hear about new ideas and then with their own sense of agency decide to act upon those ideas and movements.  Avoid clichés and present the platform of volunteerism as an exciting, new idea by showing how it can be innovative and meaningful. Once you have earned the trust and respect of a group of young people, you’ll be ready to engage them and help them make the most of their service experiences.  

As an advisor and mentor to young people, encouraging them to serve means being a resource and guide to their service projects.  Students are driven to work for causes that they are interested in, so rather than handing them a project, talk to them and coach them through what they think is needed in the community and how they believe they can help. Though they may be initially motivated by an incentive to volunteer the goal is that gradually students will become more inclined to volunteer out of personal interest and growth - rather than just a reward.  You can help students develop this inclination to volunteer by guiding them to find opportunities that align with their interests.  Listen attentively and show them ways they can become involved with nonprofits or start their own service initiatives that cater to their interests.  Students are impacted personally more by the one-on-one conversations they have with mentors and teachers than large, wholesale speeches and lectures.  Getting to know a student can help you be a better resource to them in finding service opportunities.  

The main goal of motivating students to serve is to make service fit with their lives rather than forcing it on them.  You earn their trust and respect by being genuine, relatable, and an attentive listener. Often students feel unenthusiastic about service because they don’t really feel they can make an impact; they think they do not have a say in the things they’d like to change in their community.  Intrinsically, most students want to exercise their voice in the community, but don’t realize they have the power. Volunteering helps students understand ways they can make a difference.

Additionally, when a student feels stuck, help break down a project into small tasks.  Try to understand what they are interested in changing and show them that this can be achieved by asking them to break up a project into smaller steps.  Short-term goals are easier to digest than big-picture ideas.  Showing students that service is an accessible way to make a difference is one of the best motivators.  Check in with students periodically on the progress of their service projects and remind them that their work is appreciated.  Showing appreciation for a volunteer’s work helps to maintain that trust and respect that was initially built to get them involved.  

Encouraging students to volunteer means first gaining their attention and respect.  Incentives may help catalyze a student’s service, but individualized attention and guidance will help motivate them to become life-long volunteers.  Getting students to work with other people their own age also helps motivate them to serve.  In the end, fostering a culture of service and instilling in each individual the desire to work for something greater than themselves starts with making change-making more accessible.  Showing young people that by applying their knowledge and passion, they already have the tools to make a difference is the best way to ensure volunteerism begins and continues to give them purpose in life.  

Topics: service learning, volunteering, k12, millennials, leadership, engaged learning, social entrepreneurship, higher education, community service coordinators, experiential learning

NobleHour Launches National Volunteer Week Scavenger Hunt

Posted by Keara Ziegerer on Sun, Apr 06, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

In celebration of National Volunteer Month, NobleHour is launching a virtual scavenger hunt to inspire participants to serve.  On each day of National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, NobleHour will use Instagram and Twitter to share clues or questions related to volunteering and community engagement. Participants that Tweet the correct answer to @noblehour with the hashtag #NobleNVM will be entered to win daily prizes and the grand prize of an iPad Mini. NobleHour celebrates National Volunteer Month with a Scavenger Hunt.

In addition to hosting the scavenger hunt, NobleHour will be sharing volunteer tips, exclusive service-learning blog posts, volunteer opportunities, and inspirational service quotes all month long.

“We believe in celebrating service every day, but we get especially excited for National Volunteer Month,” said Keara Ziegerer, NobleHour’s User Engagement Manager.

“The Strides in Service Scavenger Hunt is a fun way we can connect with volunteers, while rewarding them for their commitment to community engagement.”

Members of the NobleHour team will also connect with volunteers at the 2014 National Service-Learning Conference, MONUMENTAL. The conference runs from April 9-12, ending with Global Youth Service Day – the largest service event in the world. 

For more information about the Strides in Service Scavenger Hunt and NobleHour’s National Volunteer Month celebration, visit info.noblehour.com/nvm.  

 

About NobleHour:

We are a small company with a big mission to provide an online platform that enables and facilitates community engagement. NobleHour is a network of online communities that focuses on community engagement by offering a suite of tools for tracking and measuring service-learning, volunteering, and community service initiatives. Our online communities offer hour tracking, opportunity and event listings, and hour reporting tools that are used by school districts, colleges, universities, non-profits, and businesses throughout the US and most recently Canada. We have an interesting back story: NobleHour was started by a student back in 2005 who was looking for a way to find service opportunities in his area. It grew from a simple online database of service-learning opportunities to what we are today, with over 35,000 active users, over 3,000 organizations, and over 3,000 opportunity listings. Since the day of our official re-launch in January of 2012, our users have tracked close to 3 million service hours, with an economic impact of over $62,000,000

Topics: volunteering, community service, Monumental, community engagement, NYLC, National Volunteer Month, NVW14

“Empowering NobleLeaders” at the National Service-Learning Conference

Posted by Dr. Kristin Joos and Liz Harlan on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 08:53 AM

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For the past quarter century, the National Youth Leadership Council has brought together youth and adults from all over the world and all different disciplines to share ideas, skills, passions, and their service-learning experiences at the National Service-Learning Conference. The yearly conferences are held in various host cities, with different co-host organizations, and continues to grow in participant number as well as prestige of keynote speaker and program leaders every year. This years 25th annual MONUMENTAL conference April 9th to 12th will prove to be one of the biggest and most exciting yet. The conference will be held for the first time in Washington D.C., a city whose international network and incredible civic engagement has been a major motivation for this year’s MONUMENTAL theme. The conference will take full advantage of the unique service, programming, and networking opportunities our nation’s capitol has to offer.  

All conference workshops and plenary sessions will take place at the historic Washington Marriott Wardman park, unless otherwise indicated in the posted schedule. Various keynote speakers include Sandra Day O’Connor, retired Supreme Court Justice, Arne Duncan, ninth U.S. Secretary of Education, and Minh Dang, White House Champion of Change as a national leader and in human trafficking and child abuse. Youth leaders in service are equally involved in the preparation and participation as their adult counterparts and the conference will spotlight some of the most inspirational, motivated, and change-making young people as featured speakers, program organizers, and session leaders. Highlighted conference events include Capitol Hill Day, a truly unique opportunity for adult and student leaders to advocate for youth as solutions to today’s toughest challenges at home and abroad by meeting with legislators and Congress members. The goal of NYLC and Capitol Hill Day is to convene hundreds of youth advocates, as well as provide them the support and opportunity to meet with Congressional offices, to educate policy-makers about the importance of collaborating with young people to incite real change in their communities.

Students engaged in volunteer service.

Another highlighted event of this year’s conference is the Day of Service: A Celebration of Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) on Saturday April 12th. All attendees are encouraged to give back to the D.C. community and put into practice some of the service learning skills and initiatives they have just learned about in the days prior at the NSLC. The Day of Service will be held on the National Mall near the Lincoln Memorial steps and includes several different ways to become engaged and have fun, including direct service projects, networking with community members and local nonprofits, and opportunities to hear from community leaders. Partnering organizations such as the Peace Corps, D.C. Habitat for Humanity, Earth Force, generationOn, and Special Olympics Project UNIFY will be present to hone the energy and inspiration cultivated by all conference attendees, speakers, and leaders. Youth Service America (YSA) is the founder and chief organizer of GYSD, the largest service event in the world and the only day of service dedicated to children and youth, which is held each year over a weekend in April (April 11th to 13th for 2014) in more than 100 countries on six continents. As the conference’s co-host, YSA aims to bring this monumental and international service event to the 2014 MONUMENTAL NSLC and Washington D.C. in order to address environmental issues, health and inclusion needs, and educational disconnects of the surrounding community. GYSD is both a celebration and mobilization of service-oriented youth, sharing the same focus and motivation as the annual National Service Learning Conference.

Whether you are a returning conference attendee or newcomer, young person or adult, student or teacher, administrator or non-profit organization, researcher or consultant on service learning and youth leadership, the NSLC’s multiple day and concurrent program schedule enables any type of attendee to personalize their conference and design experiences tailored to their own needs and passions. The educational sessions, discussion groups, interactive workshops, and featured speakers will provide both youth and adults the tools, resources, ideas, and motivation to enhance their service learning practices as well as improve their school, organization, and community. With the wide variety of program topics and types, anyone can become engaged in and inspired by the NSLC.

NobleHour is pleased to again be a sponsor of this year’s National Service Learning Conference. And we are excited to present an interactive discussion-based workshop on how to use service learning to empower students to become Changemakers will certainly prove beneficial for coordinators, teachers, and students to increase their understanding and value of applying what is learned in the classroom to the community. We will focus on how to effectively implement service learning projects with high school and college students to teach Social Entrepreneurship, Civic Engagement, and Student Leadership. Through group discussion and interactive presentation, we plan to facilitate the sharing of service learning experiences among participants. We hope to share our expertise and experience with the audience and together discuss effective strategies to increase students’ engagement, and enhance their learning, in the classroom and beyond.

You don’t want to miss this year’s National Service Learning Conference in Washington D.C. or the Global Youth Service Day taking place all over the world. Find out how to get involved with one of the hundreds of projects or if GYSD is already coming to a region near you. Even if you cannot attend this year’s exciting conference, there are many ways to stay connected and informed of the NSLC’s happenings through facebook, twitter, or the soon to be available NSLC mobile app.

Topics: service learning, volunteering, community service, social entrepreneurship, Monumental, outreach, community engagement, k12

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