August Project Leader Spotlight: Natalie Martinez

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Our August Project Leader Spotlight belongs to long-time HandsOn Broward volunteer and Project Leader, Natalie Martinez. Chances are, if you have been to a HandsOn Broward managed volunteer project, you have seen 17-year-old Natalie in action.

“The more I became aware of issues that face the community through personal accounts and news channels, the more motivated I became to get involved in the community,” Natalie said.

And she has become involved in the community in a variety of ways. Since she began volunteering with HandsOn Broward, Natalie has participated in the Children’s Services Council’s Back to School Community Extravaganza, Family Volunteer Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, 9/11 Day of Service, Be a Joy Maker, and much more. She has also taken on the role of a Project Leader at Kids Care Club, Tomorrow’s Rainbow, and Greater Horizons Academy.

Natalie was happy to take the step from volunteer to Project Leader and recommends other volunteers to do the same. “If you are considering becoming a Project leader, I highly recommend that you do. Not only will you gain new experiences, but you will also learn practical life and leadership skills that are crucial when entering the workplace and beyond,” she said.

As a youth volunteer, Natalie has also participated in many of our youth programs, from our annual Summer Service Camp, to Youth Action Corps, our leadership development program for teens. After experiencing them as a participant, this year Natalie took on a leadership role with both of these programs, acting as a co-facilitator.

“The unique aspect of my volunteering experience has been going from a volunteer to a project leader who also co-facilitates certain programs and events, such as the Summer Service Camp and Youth Action Corps,” Natalie said.

In 2011, when Natalie was just 14 years old, she began volunteering at the HandsOn Broward office over the summer. She assisted staff with clerical work, sorting t-shirts and donations, and making reminder phone calls to volunteers. She has volunteered with us every summer since, and has truly become part of the HandsOn Broward work family. In the past few years, she has started taking on more responsibilities in the office as well. She isn’t just filing and sorting – she is also participating in conference calls, staff meetings, answering the phones, and planning and leading projects and programs.

Natalie has helped her community through volunteerism time and time again, but she also believes that the experiences have helped her in return. “Volunteering has greatly impacted my personal and professional goals by helping me decide what profession to pursue, which includes representing citizens along with their views,” she said. “Volunteering has also given me many invaluable opportunities that have helped shape me into the person I have become today.”

Natalie was selected as the Youth Volunteer of the Year at the 2012 Heart of the Community Awards, and has over 650 recorded service hours with HandsOn Broward. She is also the recipient of The President’s Volunteer Service Award. Natalie is dual-enrolled at Broward Virtual School and Broward College.

When asked to sum up her overall volunteer experience, Natalie said, “One of my favorite quotes that sums up how I personally feel about volunteering is by former President of the United States Ronald Reagan when he states that ‘The work of volunteer groups throughout our country represents the very heart and soul of America. They have helped make this the most compassionate, generous, and humane society that ever existed on the face of this earth.’”

Natalie, thank you for your continuous compassion and generosity over the years! We hope other volunteers are inspired by your motivation to make a positive impact in your community.

HandsOn Broward Now Accepting Nominations for the 2014 Heart of the Community Awards

HOTC-logo-1On Friday, October 17, 2014, HandsOn Broward invites Broward County nonprofit organizations to publicly honor the individuals who have contributed their time, talents, and energy to your organization at the 13th Heart of the Community Volunteer Awards Dinner being held at the Broward County Convention Center.

This year, in addition to publicly recognizing all of Broward County’s amazing volunteers, we are also presenting cash awards in three categories, including Volunteer of the Year, Agency of the Year and Youth Volunteer of the Year!

HandsOn Broward will help you show your special volunteers how much you value their commitment to your organization with:

  • Automatic entry for the Volunteer of the Year cash award
  • Public recognition at the Heart of the Community Awards Dinner
  • Receipt of a Heart of the Community Certificate of Appreciation
  • Photo and short Bio of Service in the Keepsake Program
  • Name and agency affiliation on the http://www.HeartofCommunity.org website
  • A fun-filled evening of cocktails, a three-course dinner, and live musical entertainment
  • Photo and name inclusion in a full page Miami Herald advertisement
  • A chance to be photographed for HandsOn Broward’s 100 Heroes installation, a public art project for the Broward 100 Centennial Celebration (Invitations to this event will be sent to the nominee separately.

Additionally, your organization will also benefit through:

  • Recognition in the keepsake event program
  • Recognition on the http://www.HeartofCommunity.org website
  • Name recognition in a full-page Miami Herald ad
  • Automatic entry to win the Agency of the Year cash award

Please complete the nomination form linked here and submit it along with a photo of your nominee via email by Monday, September 1, 2014 to Jennifer@handsonbroward.org. You may nominate more than one volunteer.

Nominations and tickets to attend are $50.00 per person, which includes a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres, three-course dinner, silent auction, awards presentation, live entertainment and more. You may purchase tickets online at http://www.HeartOfCommunity.org or by mailing your completed form with payment.

A table of 10 sponsorship is available for $500.00 to non-profits only. Parking not included.

Questions? Call (954) 233-1297 or email jennifer@handsonbroward.org

August Volunteer Spotlight: Olga Mestey

Olga MesteyBy Sherley Guerrier

The August Volunteer Spotlight goes to Olga Mestey. Her pay it forward attitude propelled her into getting involved with HandsOn Broward. She wanted to effectively use her spare time to simply help others. Olga has managed to not only get involved in volunteering, but also with our community’s disaster preparedness efforts, through HandsOn Broward’s Disaster Response Team and SAFE Program.

While many people are in front of a computer or TV screen, especially during the hot Florida summer, Olga finds getting out in the community to be a more valuable use of her time. “I am very fortunate to be blessed with love, health, a home, and a job to provide for myself. When I see homeless people, sick people or people who just need another chance, I know that I am able to help in some small way. Rather than wasting time in front of a TV, I feel it is better used to help others,” she said.

As mentioned before, Olga is involved in HandsOn Broward’s Disaster Response Team and SAFE (Safety Assessments for Emergencies) Program. The Disaster Response Team consists of volunteers who team up to assist others in our community before and after a disaster occurs. SAFE is a program that trains volunteers to provide home safety assessments and safety kits filled with supplies to help in case of a hurricane, or another disaster.

Olga felt it was important to get involved in our disaster preparedness efforts because she witnessed family and friends deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew back in 1992. “I have never personally experienced a hurricane because I lived in the Philadelphia area for most of my adult life. My family, however, was in a closet during Hurricane Andrew,” Olga said. “My family and friends survived and were able to rebuild their homes and their lives because of people helping one another. I want to be one of those people who can be counted on to help our community.”

Volunteering gives you the ability to form relationships where you otherwise may not have crossed paths with an individual. This is one of the many reasons Olga is enjoying her experience with the program. “My Disaster Response Team partner, Janet Rooks, and I have been to several homes to perform the Hurricane Preparedness Assessment. It was so rewarding to know the people we visited are more at ease due to the SAFE Program’s assistance in the event of a hurricane. They all expressed vivid memories of past hurricanes and were grateful for the information and the kits provided by American Express. It is a rewarding experience to know we have had a part to help others feel more secure,” she said.

Olga understands the importance of disaster preparedness programs within communities, and thinks even more volunteers should get involved. “A hurricane or disaster affects all of us. It is my opinion that the more people involved with the SAFE Program, the quicker our community will be able to recover [from a disaster]. The training involved can make the difference between life and death,” she said.

When asked why Olga enjoys volunteering she says, “For me, volunteering is a way to thank God for my blessings. We are all in this world together; it only makes sense to be one anothers angels on earth.”

Olga encourages new volunteers to get involved. Olga says, “There are so many opportunities through HandsOn Broward. Volunteer for as many as you have the time for and find your niche. You won’t meet nicer people anywhere!”

If Olga has inspired you to get involved in our disaster preparedness efforts and you would like more information, please email Misty at Misty@HandsOnBroward.org.

August Volunteer Spotlight: Olga Mestey

By Sherley Guerrier

The August Volunteer Spotlight goes to Olga Mestey. Her pay it forward attitude propelled her into getting involved with HandsOn Broward. She wanted to effectively use her spare time to simply help others. Olga has managed to not only get involved in volunteering, but also with our community’s disaster preparedness efforts, through HandsOn Broward’s Disaster Response Team and SAFE Program.

While many people are in front of a computer or TV screen, especially during the hot Florida summer, Olga finds getting out in the community to be a more valuable use of her time. “I am very fortunate to be blessed with love, health, a home, and a job to provide for myself. When I see homeless people, sick people or people who just need another chance, I know that I am able to help in some small way. Rather than wasting time in front of a TV, I feel it is better used to help others,” she said.

As mentioned before, Olga is involved in HandsOn Broward’s Disaster Response Team and SAFE (Safety Assessments for Emergencies) Program. The Disaster Response Team consists of volunteers who team up to assist others in our community before and after a disaster occurs. SAFE is a program that trains volunteers to provide home safety assessments and safety kits filled with supplies to help in case of a hurricane, or another disaster.

Olga felt it was important to get involved in our disaster preparedness efforts because she witnessed family and friends deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew back in 1992. “I have never personally experienced a hurricane because I lived in the Philadelphia area for most of my adult life. My family, however, was in a closet during Hurricane Andrew,” Olga said. “My family and friends survived and were able to rebuild their homes and their lives because of people helping one another. I want to be one of those people who can be counted on to help our community.”

Volunteering gives you the ability to form relationships where you otherwise may not have crossed paths with an individual. This is one of the many reasons Olga is enjoying her experience with the program. “My Disaster Response Team partner, Janet Rooks, and I have been to several homes to perform the Hurricane Preparedness Assessment. It was so rewarding to know the people we visited are more at ease due to the SAFE Program’s assistance in the event of a hurricane. They all expressed vivid memories of past hurricanes and were grateful for the information and the kits provided by American Express. It is a rewarding experience to know we have had a part to help others feel more secure,” she said.

Olga understands the importance of disaster preparedness programs within communities, and thinks even more volunteers should get involved. “A hurricane or disaster affects all of us. It is my opinion that the more people involved with the SAFE Program, the quicker our community will be able to recover [from a disaster]. The training involved can make the difference between life and death,” she said.

When asked why Olga enjoys volunteering she says, “For me, volunteering is a way to thank God for my blessings. We are all in this world together; it only makes sense to be one another’s angels on earth.”

Olga encourages new volunteers to get involved. Olga says, “There are so many opportunities through HandsOn Broward. Volunteer for as many as you have the time for and find your niche. You won’t meet nicer people anywhere!”

If Olga has inspired you to get involved in our disaster preparedness efforts and you would like more information, please email Misty at Misty@HandsOnBroward.org.

August Volunteer Spotlight: Olga Mestey

By Sherley Guerrier

The August Volunteer Spotlight goes to Olga Mestey. Her pay it forward attitude propelled her into getting involved with HandsOn Broward. She wanted to effectively use her spare time to simply help others. Olga has managed to not only get involved in volunteering, but also with our community’s disaster preparedness efforts, through HandsOn Broward’s Disaster Response Team and SAFE Program.

While many people are in front of a computer or TV screen, especially during the hot Florida summer, Olga finds getting out in the community to be a more valuable use of her time. “I am very fortunate to be blessed with love, health, a home, and a job to provide for myself. When I see homeless people, sick people or people who just need another chance, I know that I am able to help in some small way. Rather than wasting time in front of a TV, I feel it is better used to help others,” she said.

As mentioned before, Olga is involved in HandsOn Broward’s Disaster Response Team and SAFE (Safety Assessments for Emergencies) Program. The Disaster Response Team consists of volunteers who team up to assist others in our community before and after a disaster occurs. SAFE is a program that trains volunteers to provide home safety assessments and safety kits filled with supplies to help in case of a hurricane, or another disaster.

Olga felt it was important to get involved in our disaster preparedness efforts because she witnessed family and friends deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew back in 1992. “I have never personally experienced a hurricane because I lived in the Philadelphia area for most of my adult life. My family, however, was in a closet during Hurricane Andrew,” Olga said. “My family and friends survived and were able to rebuild their homes and their lives because of people helping one another. I want to be one of those people who can be counted on to help our community.”

Volunteering gives you the ability to form relationships where you otherwise may not have crossed paths with an individual. This is one of the many reasons Olga is enjoying her experience with the program. “My Disaster Response Team partner, Janet Rooks, and I have been to several homes to perform the Hurricane Preparedness Assessment. It was so rewarding to know the people we visited are more at ease due to the SAFE Program’s assistance in the event of a hurricane. They all expressed vivid memories of past hurricanes and were grateful for the information and the kits provided by American Express. It is a rewarding experience to know we have had a part to help others feel more secure,” she said.

Olga understands the importance of disaster preparedness programs within communities, and thinks even more volunteers should get involved. “A hurricane or disaster affects all of us. It is my opinion that the more people involved with the SAFE Program, the quicker our community will be able to recover [from a disaster]. The training involved can make the difference between life and death,” she said.

When asked why Olga enjoys volunteering she says, “For me, volunteering is a way to thank God for my blessings. We are all in this world together; it only makes sense to be one another’s angels on earth.”

Olga encourages new volunteers to get involved. Olga says, “There are so many opportunities through HandsOn Broward. Volunteer for as many as you have the time for and find your niche. You won’t meet nicer people anywhere!”

If Olga has inspired you to get involved in our disaster preparedness efforts and you would like more information, please email Misty at Misty@HandsOnBroward.org.

August Volunteer Spotlight: Olga Mestey

By Sherley Guerrier

The August Volunteer Spotlight goes to Olga Mestey. Her pay it forward attitude propelled her into getting involved with HandsOn Broward. She wanted to effectively use her spare time to simply help others. Olga has managed to not only get involved in volunteering, but also with our community’s disaster preparedness efforts, through HandsOn Broward’s Disaster Response Team and SAFE Program.

While many people are in front of a computer or TV screen, especially during the hot Florida summer, Olga finds getting out in the community to be a more valuable use of her time. “I am very fortunate to be blessed with love, health, a home, and a job to provide for myself. When I see homeless people, sick people or people who just need another chance, I know that I am able to help in some small way. Rather than wasting time in front of a TV, I feel it is better used to help others,” she said.

As mentioned before, Olga is involved in HandsOn Broward’s Disaster Response Team and SAFE (Safety Assessments for Emergencies) Program. The Disaster Response Team consists of volunteers who team up to assist others in our community before and after a disaster occurs. SAFE is a program that trains volunteers to provide home safety assessments and safety kits filled with supplies to help in case of a hurricane, or another disaster.

Olga felt it was important to get involved in our disaster preparedness efforts because she witnessed family and friends deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew back in 1992. “I have never personally experienced a hurricane because I lived in the Philadelphia area for most of my adult life. My family, however, was in a closet during Hurricane Andrew,” Olga said. “My family and friends survived and were able to rebuild their homes and their lives because of people helping one another. I want to be one of those people who can be counted on to help our community.”

Volunteering gives you the ability to form relationships where you otherwise may not have crossed paths with an individual. This is one of the many reasons Olga is enjoying her experience with the program. “My Disaster Response Team partner, Janet Rooks, and I have been to several homes to perform the Hurricane Preparedness Assessment. It was so rewarding to know the people we visited are more at ease due to the SAFE Program’s assistance in the event of a hurricane. They all expressed vivid memories of past hurricanes and were grateful for the information and the kits provided by American Express. It is a rewarding experience to know we have had a part to help others feel more secure,” she said.

Olga understands the importance of disaster preparedness programs within communities, and thinks even more volunteers should get involved. “A hurricane or disaster affects all of us. It is my opinion that the more people involved with the SAFE Program, the quicker our community will be able to recover [from a disaster]. The training involved can make the difference between life and death,” she said.

When asked why Olga enjoys volunteering she says, “For me, volunteering is a way to thank God for my blessings. We are all in this world together; it only makes sense to be one another’s angels on earth.”

Olga encourages new volunteers to get involved. Olga says, “There are so many opportunities through HandsOn Broward. Volunteer for as many as you have the time for and find your niche. You won’t meet nicer people anywhere!”

If Olga has inspired you to get involved in our disaster preparedness efforts and you would like more information, please email Misty at Misty@HandsOnBroward.org.