January Project Leader Spotlight: Benjamin Benson

Ben benson

This month’s Project Leader Spotlight belongs to Benjamin Benson. Benjamin began volunteering with HandsOn Broward in July of 2013, and a little over a year later he went through the Project Leader Training. Before he officially became a Project Leader, Benjamin volunteered with a variety of organizations, such as the Dania Beach PATCH, Feeding South Florida, Greater Horizons Academy, and our monthly DIY (Do It Yourself) volunteer projects.

“Like most volunteers, I’m always looking for a way to give back to my community and have fun doing it,” Benjamin said. “Sometimes you see awful things about your community on the news, or in the streets that you wish you could help with, or change for the better. It’s a personal goal of mine to better my community, and volunteering via HOB has helped me meet these goals.”

Currently, Benjamin is leading a monthly project with LifeNet4Families. LifeNet4Families assists Broward County individuals and families in poverty by providing meals, counseling and support to those in need. On the first Friday of each month, Benjamin leads a group of 5 volunteers in greeting guests, serving a meal, cleaning tables, and assisting with clean-up at the end of the service at LifeNet4Families. They serve up to 200 meals each day.

When asked why he decided to make the transition from volunteer to Project Leader, Benjamin said, “As much as I like working within a team and helping to get the work done, I love leading. I enjoy the feeling knowing that I was able to direct and manage a group of strangers to meet the goals of a project.”

During the holiday season, Benjamin led a group of Elementary School aged students at Greater Horizons Academy in making holiday cards for our troops. This is an issue that is near and dear to Benjamin’s heart because he is a member of the US Army Reserve.  This project is the perfect example of a Project Leader taking an issue that they are passionate about and creating their own project to lead focused on that issue.

“I would recommend volunteers to become a Project Leader because it’s challenging. Becoming a Project Leader sometimes requires you to think on your feet,” Benjamin said. “In addition to taking a role that’s challenging, as a Project Leader, you get the opportunity to create a project for a pressing issue in the community HOB hasn’t yet developed a project for.”

Benjamin also shared some advice for new volunteers. “Once you sign up for a project, follow through on that project and get it done,” he said. “The end result of your hard work and personal sacrifice is unbelievably rewarding to clients and to yourself.”

Thank you, Benjamin, for serving our country and our community! We hope other volunteers are inspired by your motivation to make a positive impact in our community.

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South Florida Volunteers Honor Dr. King through Service

Tamika Mallard passes out warm socks to volunteers as they pack 1000 care kits for area homeless

Tamika Mallard passes out warm socks to volunteers as they pack 1000 care kits for area homeless

On January 17th, 120 community volunteers joined HandsOn Broward at Delevoe Park in Fort Lauderdale to participate in service projects to mark the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. The participants joined hundreds of thousands of Americans across the nation in community projects honoring the slain civil rights leader’s legacy of service.

“The holiday is a time to remember and act on Dr. King’s commitment to making our nation better,” said Dale Mandell, President and CEO of HandsOn Broward.  “Dr. King exemplified civil rights, civic responsibility, and uniting people of all backgrounds to act on community concerns. There is no better or more meaningful way to honor his legacy than by serving others.”

005 - Twenty volunteers launched canoes to clean up the New River's North Fork

Twenty volunteers launched canoes to clean up the New River’s North Fork

With support from Broward College, The MLK Day Celebration Committee, American Express and Comcast, HandsOn Broward enlisted local leaders, civic groups and community members to roll up their sleeves and serve the community.  Among the projects honoring Dr. King’s life of selfless service, volunteers beautified the park grounds by planting flowers, spreading mulch, painting and launching canoes to clean the surrounding New River North Fork waterways.  Participants also packed 1,000 care kits that will be distributed to homeless men and women during the Broward County Point in Time Homeless Count next week.

Teens from Comcast's Digital Connectors Program participate in MLK Day of Service Activities

Teens from Comcast’s Digital Connectors Program participate in MLK Day of Service Activities

During his lifetime, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to forge common ground amongst all people through the strong belief, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” Signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, MLK Day became a federal holiday in 1986. Later, in 1994, President Clinton signed the King Holiday and Service Act, calling on all Americans to celebrate the third Monday in January, as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”.  Since then, HandsOn Broward, in collaboration with community partners and corporate sponsors, has successfully organized hundreds of service projects in honor of Dr. King.

l to r: Dawn Stagliano, Dale Mandell, Laura McRell

l to r: Dawn Stagliano, Dale Mandell, Laura McRell

“The King Day of Service is a great way to bring people together to make a difference and we hope it will be the beginning of an ongoing commitment to serve throughout the year,” suggested Mandell. “The needs in Broward County are particularly great right now, and service is a key part of the solution.”

An affiliate of the HandsOn Network, HandsOn Broward inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action to positively effect change in Broward County.   They connect people who want to help with volunteer opportunities that make a difference in our community.  Visit www.handsonbroward.org for more information about how to get involved in volunteering for your community.

January 2015 Volunteer Spotlight: Caitlin Trickovic

Caitlin Trickovic 3

Our first Volunteer Spotlight of 2015 belongs to Caitlin Trickovic. Caitlin began volunteering with HandsOn Broward in December 2013. “I got lucky!” she said. “I was looking to volunteer in Broward County and Google led me straight to HandsOn Broward.”

Caitlin volunteered some of her time with a couple of our nonprofit partners, including FRIENDS Ranch and Broward Outreach Center, before she began devoting much of her time to Tomorrow’s Rainbow. “I love volunteering and it’s always been a part of my life,” she said. “I was raised in the country and with horses so I wanted to do something closer to my roots. Tomorrow’s Rainbow felt like home the minute I walked onto the property.” Of the 270 hours of service Caitlin has provided through HandsOn Broward, 263 of those hours have been spent at Tomorrow’s Rainbow.

Tomorrow’s Rainbow is a special place for children that have experienced the death of a loved one. They are committed to guiding children that do not have the benefits or resources for traditional mental health therapy through the grief process. By combining miniature horse interactions with camaraderie, compassion and guidance, they will begin healing and will be led toward a more joyful future.

“I love volunteering at Tomorrow’s Rainbow – it’s like a little piece of the country hidden away. When you walk onto the land you immediately feel like you have traveled into the depths of the heart of Dixie,” Caitlin said. “You are greeted by all the animals on the farm. It’s just gorgeous.”

Caitlin has volunteered in a variety of capacities with Tomorrow’s Rainbow, including as a Program Facilitator. Program Facilitators at Tomorrow’s Rainbow play a very special role within the organization. These individuals lead Tomorrow’s Rainbow’s clients through their grief process by providing emotional support and guiding them through different activities on the farm.

When asked why other volunteers should get involved with Tomorrow’s Rainbow, Caitlin replied, “Not only are you working for a great cause, but at no point in time do you feel like it’s work. It’s an extended family. You get to know the animals and the children. You create memories that will stay with you forever while helping others.”

Caitlin believes that there is no better feeling in the world than feeling like you are making a difference in people’s lives and the world around you. If you are interested in becoming a Program Facilitator or just volunteering with Tomorrow’s Rainbow in general, please click here for more information. For new Tomorrow’s Rainbow volunteers, Caitlin’s advice is, “Just pay attention when taking the training and enjoy yourself. And spread the word about this amazing gem called Tomorrow’s Rainbow.”

Thank you, Caitlin, for your hard work and dedication! We hope other volunteers are inspired by the impact she has had on our community.