Julianne Alberty's blog

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Volunteer at the Westport Library!

It's that time of year again, The 26th Annual Westport Libary Summer Book Sale. With over 70 categories of books and daily donations, the library relies on dedicated volunteers to sort and organize the books all year long as they prepare for their three annual sales.

Volunteers act as category managers for the donated books. The categories include foreign language, education, travel, culinary, poetry, and psychology, just to name a few. The library is always in need of volunteers to organize, price and prepare the books for the sale. Volunteers can make their own schedules and be responsible for a category they are interested in. The category managers volunteers get about the donated books and they love to see how their categories do at the sale. They have a real sense of ownership and pride over the collections they are responsible for, this is a great opportunity for people with a real interest in a specific category.

Last year more than 400 volunteers worked for 9 days to prepare and run the summer book sale. The 26th Annual Summer Book Sale under the tents on Jesup Green  is Saturday, July 14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, July 15, 10-5 p.m.; Monday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (everything half-price); Tuesday, July 17, 9 am to 1 p.m. (contribution day—suggested donations of $5 per bag).

June 2018 Volunteers of the Month

Many Connecticut high schools have started a senior internship program that allows seniors the opportunity to spend the last 4 weeks of the school year interning at a local company. Volunteer Square is proud to host senior interns annually and this year we are proud to honor our 2018 senior interns, Frank Leiva and Cole Judkins, as our June Volunteers of the Month. Frank (Westhill HS) and Cole (Norwalk HS) spent four weeks from the end of May to mid-June, representing Volunteer Square by volunteering all over Fairfield County, doing volunteer outreach and recruitment and managing town pages on our website for 30 hours a week. 

At the start of their internship, I asked Cole and Frank what they were hoping to gain from this experience. They are both seeking business degrees in college and were very interested in learning the day to day workings of Volunteer Square. I was thrilled that they wanted to know how our organization operates and the ways we are able to reach volunteers and nonprofit agencies across Connecticut. We spent a lot of time going over how Volunteer Square is run and I asked for their critical feedback about our business. Cole and Frank had a lot of questions and said that they are excited to use what they learned in their future studies.

Summer Volunteering - 4 Ways to Start!

Summer is just about here and now is the chance to get involved in your community. In between summer vacation and trips to the beach, sign up to volunteer and give a little bit of your time. It's no secret that volunteering reduces stress and anxiety, and makes people feel happier so jump into a local project this summer that will make a real difference. We made a list of tips to get you started below.

Also, check out VolunteerSquare.com to sign up for custom emails that include opportunities you are matched with. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for all the latest volunteer news!

1) Do Something You've Never Done Before

If you're an avid volunteer, you may have developed a particular comfort zone or area of expertise: maybe it's education or the environment or even a career-related aspect of volunteering. If you want to really spice up your volunteering, try something completely different. If you volunteer in marketing, try copywriting instead. If you volunteer at an educational agency, try an environmental one. You'll broaden your horizons, discover new things, and best of all, you'll be able to work efficiently with other volunteers and agencies even if you go back to your old volunteer comfort zone.

2) Make It A Summer-Long Affair

May Volunteer of the Month

“Find something that really peaks your interest and you will feel really good doing it,” that’s the advice from Mike Grosso when asked how he encourages others to get involved in their communities. Nominated by Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, we are thrilled to honor Mike as our May Volunteer of the Month and to celebrate everything he does to give back to his community!

A longtime resident of Monroe, CT, Mike retired from his career as a school psychologist in 2003. He was looking for something to do with his free time and was hoping for something different than what he’d done during his career. His wife mentioned the zoo and his interest immediately peaked. He’s been a docent at the zoo since 2011 and he loves the work he does. He started as a volunteer educator, meeting and greeting the public and talking about the animals with visitors and school groups. He then became certified as an animal handler, which allows him to work with a number of the education department’s animal ambassadors, these are the animals used for on-grounds and off-grounds programs. To be certified, Mike went through several weeks of detailed and intricate training with the Animal Care Specialists, who exclusively care for all the animals on exhibit at the zoo.

Foundation Source in The Community

Over the last several years it’s become very popular for companies to promote volunteer work as part of their social responsibility initiatives. Volunteer work gives employees an opportunity to break away from their daily tasks and put their skills to use in other ways. Research has shown that companies that encourage volunteer work outside of the workplace have seen a shift in employee engagement. Engaged employees are happier, healthier and perform at a higher level.

Volunteer Square launched a Corporate Program in 2017 to help local companies build or strengthen their employee volunteer programs. We can tailor opportunities based on what works for the company and the nonprofit so it's a meaningful and impactful experience for both sides.

Volunteer Square recently had the opportunity to work with the Fairfield based Foundation Source. The team at Foundation Source was looking to help local organizations in the area of hunger, senior services, and education. We suggested a menu of opportunities based on a survey with their team and they chose two projects this month. Volunteer Square coordinated the details and the Foundation Source team completed two projects that made a huge impact on both the organizations they worked with. We are pleased to highlight their great work this week on our blog!

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