Family Volunteers Make a Difference at South Florida Nonprofits

Lauderhill, FL (November 19, 2012)– Volunteers as young as two years old participated in Family Volunteer Day projects to help two South Florida nonprofits on Saturday.  A total of one hundred and sixty five family volunteers joined hands to benefit the Broward County organization Tomorrow’s Rainbow and the Miami-Dade Salvation Army.  The projects, organized by HandsOn Broward, were made possible by the global youth service movement, generationOn, through a grant from Disney Friends for Change.

Jackie and Stephanie Ossa helped paint artwork for the Miami-Dade Salvation Army

At Tomorrow’s Rainbow in Coconut Creek, volunteers performed landscaping work and painted decorative picket fences.  The organization incorporates miniature horse interactions with therapeutic play areas and facilitated peer support to provide grief therapy for children dealing with loss.  The picket fences will be used as part of their “memory lane” activity, a therapeutic obstacle course activity that, with the help of miniature horses, guides children through memories of a lost loved one.

Volunteers stand with the picket fences they built for Tomorrows Rainbow on Family Volunteer Day

At the Miami-Dade Salvation Army, volunteers built furniture for the library, planted a community garden and created art pieces for the center, which provides shelter, rehabilitation, emergency food and assistance for individuals and families in need.

“Volunteering provides a fun way for families to make memories together while making significant contributions to their communities,” said Dale Hirsch, President and CEO of HandsOn Broward.  “There is no better way to spend Family Volunteer Day than to join loved ones in making a positive impact on others’ lives.”

Family Volunteer Day was created 22 years ago by the Points of Light Institute to showcase the benefits of family volunteering and provide opportunities for families to help communities create supportive environments for their children and each other. HandsOn Broward provides thousands of opportunities for individuals and families to get involved year-round.

About HandsOn Broward:  HandsOn Broward inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action to positively affect change in Broward County. To learn more about HandsOn Broward’s upcoming service opportunities or to schedule a volunteer orientation at your organization or place of business, please call 954.233.1300 or visit us online at http://www.HandsOnBroward.org

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November Project Leader Spotlight: Yashie Vindell

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by Amanda Hoffman

Because Thanksgiving is the holiday in which we give thanks, November’s Project Leader Spotlight appropriately belongs to Yashie Vindell—a HandsOn Broward volunteer who is so thankful for everything she has, that she gives back as much as she can. Yashie first discovered HandsOn Broward when she came across our Kids Care Club online while looking for places she and her daughter could volunteer. Having participated in the Camillus House Young Leaders Program and volunteering at several walks and charities, Yashie was not unfamiliar with volunteer work before coming to HandsOn Broward, and she took no time at all to jump right in.

Since coming to HandsOn Broward, Yashie has volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club Back-to-School Beautification, as well as leading Environmental Day at Markham Park.  “My new project for this holiday was to ‘Adopt a Family’ from Neighbors 4 Neighbors and I did it! I’m looking forward to so many more and to involve my family as much as I can in HOB,” says Yashie.

Yashie, herself, has benefitted from volunteering. “It has impacted me greatly since I learn so much from the other volunteers and the opportunity leaders. Volunteering has helped me overcome my shyness and I’m more outgoing.”

As someone who has been changed by volunteering, Yashie enthusiastically recommends that everyone should get involved in their community somehow. “I will tell anyone that hasn’t volunteered to do so because you will be helping so many lives and your community. There are so many people that are in need, and with just a few hours you can make a huge difference. Take that extra step and get involved. HandsOn Broward has so many opportunities for every age group that I know you will find one that suits you. You can also get your family involved and volunteer as a team. You are able to set up a team and participate with your family in different projects.”

After seeing the value in volunteering firsthand, it was Yashie’s idea to take the next step and get involved as a Project Leader with HandsOn Broward. And she loves every minute of it. “I wanted to become more involved so being a Project Leader allows me to volunteer, but lead at the same time. It gives me an opportunity to show other volunteers new skills and help them become future Project Leaders! Anyone that loves volunteering and has the time and would like to go the extra mile should do so and become a Project Leader.”

Thank you, Yashie for all that you do! Below is Yashie’s favorite quote that she believes sums up the joy volunteering gives her:

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver” –Maya Angelou

Volunteers to Assist Veterans through Service

Fort Lauderdale, FL (November 5, 2012) – Fifty volunteers will spend this Veterans Day

Veteran Rick Myers participated in volunteer activities on at Keystone Halls

helping out a Fort Lauderdale organization that provides resources to support local veterans in need.  Through a grant from the Home Depot Foundation, HandsOn Broward will organize volunteers in activities to assist the residents of Keystone Halls, a transitional housing development for homeless military veterans, many of whom are recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction.

From 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Monday, November 12, volunteers will be working alongside veteran residents to paint homes, build picnic tables for recreation areas and plant citrus trees.  Following the service activities, volunteers, residents and staff will gather for a Veterans Day barbeque.

“It’s an honor to be able to give back to those who have given so much of themselves for us,” said Dale Hirsch, President and CEO of HandsOn Broward. “And we’re proud to have such dedicated community partners like the Department of Veterans Affairs, Keystone Halls and the Home Depot Foundation supporting our efforts.”

Volunteers from Miami Job Corps help build outdoor furniture for veterans living at Keystone Halls

At Keystone Halls, residents receive resources and counseling to help them become independent and rebuild their lives.  With the help of the Department of Veterans Affairs, individuals are also able to build their credit scores, get their drivers licenses and find permanent jobs.

Volunteers who are interested in participating in the project can register through the HandsOn Broward website HERE.

CLICK HERE to register to volunteer for Veterans Day of Service.

Re-engage for Good Volunteer Spotlight: Jeff Zuckerman

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By Amanda Hoffman

Many of you might recognize HandsOn Broward’s CFO, Jeff Zuckerman. You might stop and chat with him, or team up with him when he volunteers. But do you know the story of how Jeff came to HandsOn Broward?

Before HandsOn Broward, Jeff had recently retired from his job of 35 years as head bookkeeper at a major law firm in New York.

But retired life didn’t suit Jeff well, and after a year he realized that he wanted to start living again. “Eventually, I realized I miss doing the financial stuff, and since I was not looking for a paycheck I decided that my experience surely could be used by a small non-profit. HandsOn Broward had an outside company doing their finances, and when I happened to mention that I was looking to get back into finance, and the assistant director at that time, Audra Vaz, kiddingly asked if I would be interested in working for HandsOn Broward.  She was sort of shocked when I said yes, and even more shocked when I said I did not want a paycheck.  So here I am 4 years later still here, and I will be here as long as I enjoy doing it, which I still do.”

Jeff’s timing couldn’t be more impeccable. At the time, HandsOn Broward needed financial support and Jeff’s number-crunching skills were perfect for the job. His schedule would be between 9 and 4 Monday through Thursday.  On Fridays, he was committed to volunteering at The Poverello Center.  The schedule worked well and today, Jeff has logged almost 6,000 volunteer hours!

Jeff loves giving back to his community so much that he now speaks to retired citizens and seniors, encouraging them to get involved and volunteer in their communities. He is so committed to his work that he is the ambassador to HandsOn Broward’s “Re-Engage for Good” program, funded by The Community Foundation of Broward which helps seniors get in touch with community organizations in need of their skills.

Giving is a two-way street. While Jeff has given so much to HandsOn Broward by serving as our CFO: a position that would normally offer a six-figure salary but Jeff’s work is all non-profit, and helping to place thousands of volunteers in their community, HandsOn Broward has also given Jeff the sense of purpose that he lost after retiring.  Rounds of golf and time spent at the casino quickly bored Jeff and he had fallen into a monotonous daily routine during his retirement. He didn’t want the pressure of a real job, but he wanted to work again.

Volunteering with HandsOn Broward allowed him to get off the couch and become active both physically and mentally. His health improved and he began to feel better about himself. Perhaps the greatest thing Jeff found through HandsOn Broward, though, is love.

Soon after starting work, Jeff met Patty while playing poker at Isle Casino. Just two days after his 62nd birthday, Jeff married Patty on a cruise out of Fort Lauderdale. As someone who motivates others to volunteer through his work in the R4G program, it was easy for Jeff to get his new wife into the spirit of volunteerism.

“Patty was in real estate when we were married on October 22, 2009, and we all know what the market was like.  She was very unhappy–besides not making any money–and I convinced her to retire and go find something she really enjoyed doing, regardless of a paycheck or not.  I knew she would join me in volunteering, and in fact, for the last 2+ years she has been a four-day-a- week volunteer at Tomorrow’s Rainbow, which caters to children who have lost a loved one and are going thru the grieving process–Patty lost her mother at an early age, and really believes in the cause. I think it makes us closer as a couple, and makes us realize how fortunate we both are.”

Jeff’s story is an inspiration to all of us and goes to show how much impact volunteering can have. “From the day I started here I have been amazed at what a small group of people who truly believe in what they do can accomplish so much and help so many different organizations and people.  I am proud to be a small part of that,” says Jeff.

Thank you for all that you do, Jeff—we don’t know what we would do without you!