Julianne Alberty's blog

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Volunteering in the New Year

Happy New Year! As we enter 2019, I'm sure you've thought about your New Year's resolutions. While some of the most popular resolutions are to be more healthy and go to the gym, another very popular resolution is to volunteer and get involved in your community.  At Volunteer Square, we encourage everyone to give back to their communities, but we also know that resolutions have the habit of being placed on hold, neglected, or abandoned altogether as the year moves along. We want to help you keep your volunteer momentum going all year so we put together a list of tips. Feel free to use some or all of them and share them with your family and friends as you plan your 2019 volunteering.

Stay up-to-date on volunteer opportunities here in Connecticut by signing up for our custom e-alerts and you can catch us on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram too!

Tips for Volunteering All Year

1. Be Specific

Saying you want to volunteer is a very broad term. Doing what? What type of agency do you want to work with? What types of problems are you interested in solving? Just knowing what you really want to do as a volunteer will make a big difference in your commitment to your goals.

2. Create sub-goals

So your goal is to volunteer and you’ve established a specific direction. Then what? Continue creating a path for yourself on your road to New Year's volunteering in 2019. Maybe you want to volunteer in order to meet one new person every day. Maybe your goals could be work-related, such as writing one new press release every day that you volunteer. Be creative!

3. Be Realistic

Homemade Holiday Cards

There is something special about a homemade holiday card.  When you open the envelope, you can immediately feel the love and care that was involved in making it. Volunteer Square was excited to help coordinate a holiday card making project for the employees of the Gault Family Companies.

In early fall, I met with Megan Donaher Ventrella, Human Resources Coordinator and Meredith Donaher, Director of Marketing at Gault. They wanted to start an employee volunteer program and offer a variety of potential projects for people to get involved with. At our initial planning meeting, we discussed a kicking off of the program at their annual staff meeting in March of 2019. 4 volunteer events would be presented for employees to participate in during the course of the year. We also decided to take advantage of the holiday season and look for a fun volunteer project that employees could do in the office. We wanted something that would be fun and creative and encourage people to take a short break from their day to participate in.

6th Annual Teen Essay Contest Winners

AND THE WINNERS ARE...

The 6th Annual Volunteer Square Teen Essay Contest, in partnership with Hearst Connecticut Media, has come to a close. We received an overwhelming number of essays from 29 school districts across Connecticut. The essays submitted truly represented how volunteering impacts the lives of teenagers in Connecticut.

Thank you to everyone that submitted an essay and to all that helped us promote this year's contest. Special thanks to our partners at Hearst Connecticut Media and to the Volunteer Square Advisory Board for reading every essay and helping us award the winners. 

And now, without further ado, we are thrilled to announce the 6th Annual High School Essay Contest Winners. 

Thanksgiving Angels

In early September MBI Director of Human Resources, Tom Reese, reached out to Volunteer Square looking to find some volunteer opportunities for his employees. After our initial meeting to discuss what they were looking for and where they wanted to focus their volunteering, Volunteer Square presented MBI with a menu of volunteer opportunities to choose from, "This is just the kind of menu we need to get something started here," Tom shared. After a review with the MBI team, the quickly choose their first project.

Tom shared that they wanted to explore options with Norwalk Community Health Center as it was nearby and their mission falls in line with what MBI was looking for. With over 250 employees in their Norwalk Office, they were interested in projects that many people could be involved and asked Volunteer Square to discuss with NCHC what was most needed.

October 2018 Volunteer of the Month

“The zoo is like my Cheers, I walk in and everyone knows my name, smiles and says thank you,” this is how Carol Knee describes her volunteer shifts. Nominated by Tracy Benham of The Beardsley Zoo, we are thrilled to honor Carol as our October 2018 Volunteer of the Month and share her story.

A Registered Nurse for 49 years, Carol retired in 2015 and was looking for something to do with her free time. As a member of the zoo, she visited every Sunday morning to walk and take in the scenery; she calls it her quiet place. A patient of hers recommended that she volunteer there since she loved it so much.

She began in the Research Station, sitting and talking with people about the animals and the zoo, but she quickly found she needed something more physical; she had far too much energy to just sit and talk. An avid gardener, she decided to take her passion and skills to the greenhouse. She started slow, “it’s like going into someone else’s house, you have to start slow before you suggest changes,” Carol shared. She learned the routines from Jon, who manages the greenhouse. He taught her what needed to be done and she began to develop her routine. It was important to her that she keeps things looking nice in the front garden, she felt it was a reflection on her like it was her own home.

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