Sun-Sentinel: Volunteers provide facelift to West Park center

Check out this article in the Sun-Sentinel on our Broward Family Day 2012! Follow this link to see it on their website (,0,1870548.story) or read the story below:

By Jodie Needle, Special Correspondent

March 23, 2012

During the recent HandsOn Broward Family Day of Service, hundreds pitched in to paint, plant and more at Carver Ranches Child Care Center and Kindergarten Inc., which has been operating for more than half a century.

HandsOn Broward, formerly known as Volunteer Broward, partners with 600 other local nonprofit groups, trains volunteers, and then pairs them with groups to serve on various community projects.

“With budget cuts, some of the volunteers we put in are keeping programs alive,” said Dale Hirsch, president of HandsOn Broward. “It’s people helping people to inspire them to help all of our neighbors in Broward County.”

For the recent West Park project, HandsOn Broward collaborated with Broward Family Life Magazine, the Children’s Services Council of Broward County and the Children’s Movement of Florida.

The Children’s Services Council provides funding to HandsOn Broward, as well as to the center’s after-school program. The center serves about 100 children, and 98 percent of them receive state or federal subsidies to attend, said Betty Somerset, the center’s board chairwoman.

“We are in need of financial assistance, and the facelift they gave us on that Saturday was just inspiring,” Somerset said. “We at the day care center are extremely grateful.”

The volunteers included 25 elementary and middle school students who are part of the HandsOn Broward Kids Care Club. They painted murals, made pillows for nap times, and prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to donate to local food banks.

“I have never seen so much accomplished in such a short period of time,” Somerset said.

The event was about volunteerism and providing children with a healthy start to education, said Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, CSC president and chairwoman of Broward’s chapter of the Children’s Movement of Florida.

“This was a fitting way to put our muscles and heart and voices together to show how much we care about our children and challenge our leaders in Tallahassee to care as much,” she said.

The work included painting one of the buildings yellow, creating two murals, sprucing up the playground, and planting a butterfly garden and two vegetable gardens. HandsOn Broward also provided the school with curriculum to use the garden to teach science, math and other subjects, Hirsch said.

“Everyone wants to take turns to water it; it’s teaching them responsibility, and they’re loving every minute of it,” Somerset said.

HandsOn Broward plans to make the center an ongoing place for volunteer opportunities, Hirsch said.

“We’re strengthening communities through volunteerism,” she said. “Hopefully through the work we do, people will pay it forward and start a new generation of people giving back and working within their neighborhoods.”

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Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


March Volunteer Spotlight: Nelson Santos


1. How did you hear about HandsOn Broward?

I was originally involved with Hands on Miami, which I found about through my donations to United Way, they had talked about volunteer opportunities with Hands on Network and I decided to give it a try. I was able to meet some wonderful people like Darrill Gaschler. I moved back to Broward for a few months, through some searching found out there was a Broward chapter and Darrill happened to be working with them as well, so when he told me that he had some projects for me, I was excited to be able help on some new projects that I haven’t had the pleasure of leading before and here I am.

2. How has volunteering impacted your personal/professional goals?

Volunteering has definitely changed my life in ways I could never imagine. It puts everything in perspective for me; I realized how fortunate I am. And how many people out in this world need our help. I have been able to experience parts of South Florida, I knew nothing about, and it’s like re-discovering the city I grew up in.  As far as my professional career I have learned when like-minded people get together it’s amazing what we can accomplish and definitely reminded me there is no “I” in Team. The leadership skills I have gained have defiantly attributed to helping me start my next business.

3. What volunteering projects have you worked on in the past? What projects are you currently working on?

I have worked on numerous projects from building houses with Habitat for Humanity to beach cleanups.  I am always trying to work with a volunteer project at least once a month. However the biggest project,  which I am extremely great full to take part in, is with Habitat for Humanity Global Village volunteer program, I will have the pleasure of traveling to Kerala,  India towards the end of May and help out people in a different part of the world.

4. Any advice for new volunteers?

When you are a volunteer, you are somebody special remember that, not everybody wants to take some time out of their day to help others. Nothing is more valuable than your time, because you can never get it back. So consider yourself among the elite people in the world. BECAUSE BEFORE YOU DIE YOU CAN SAY YES I MADE THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE, and that’s something to be proud of.

5. Any quotes that sum up your overall experience?

We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give. –Winston Churchill

Volunteering can be an exciting, growing, enjoyable experience. It is truly gratifying to serve a cause, practice one’s ideals, work with people, solve problems, see benefits, and know one had a hand in them. –Harriet Naylor

A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see; who can feel what most do not feel. Often, such gifted persons do not think of themselves as volunteers, but as citizens – citizens in the fullest sense: partners in civilization –George Bush

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. –Booker T. Washington

Volunteers don’t get paid not because they’re worthless, but because they are priceless

Thanks, Nelson! You ROCK!

-The HandsOn Broward Team