February Project Leader Spotlight: Crystal Hayes

Crystal Headshot 02 13 2015

This month’s Project Leader Spotlight belongs to volunteer extraordinaire Crystal Hayes. Crystal first began volunteering with HandsOn Broward back in 2008, and got more actively involved in 2014. Last June, she completed the Project Leader Training. Crystal wanted to take a more active role in volunteering because giving back to her community has always been something she values.

“Being raised with a humble awareness and the emphasis on giving back in different ways, I maintained the idea as an adult and encourage others to do the same,” Crystal said.

Crystal understands the importance of volunteering to our community, and also to us as individuals as well. “Personally, volunteering gives me something to look forward to, and the gift of self-accomplishment helping people of different levels and status throughout the community is a reward within itself,” she said. “Professionally, volunteering has increased my speaking communication skills, time management and raised my level of dedication to a project and/or an assignment other than personal.”

Crystal served as a Project Leader back in August at CSC’s Back to School Community Extravaganza. Her positive attitude and warm smile encouraged volunteers to maintain an optimistic outlook during a long day of service.

“After witnessing the clarity and the passion of the staff at HandsOn Broward, the choice to take the next step to lead included the increased level of appreciation to the volunteer agency, HandsOn Broward, the smiles and laughter of families being served during these events, and the drive to become a better leader in the process,” she said.

In November, Crystal became the Project Leader for our monthly project at the Miramar Community Garden. “It’s an honor to work in the role as a Project Leader for the Miramar Community Garden (MCG). I am blessed to be chosen for this site, which is a family of volunteers among a group of strangers. During the MCG project, we laugh, learn and have fun at the same time. Working with the project liaison, Elsi, has been amazing,” she said. “I am officially an honorary member of the garden club. I assist in every aspect of the garden’s operations to include fundraising, suggestions, ideas and flow of daily activities. Prior to being a part of the MCG team of big hearted volunteers, I knew nothing about the importance of soil, planting, the use of transplants, amount of water or the many different types of tomatoes that one can grow. Since accepting the position as Project Leader at the garden, I have my own mini garden I started at home to fill the gap of missing the garden, MCG members and all the volunteers from HandsOn Broward outside of our scheduled days.”

Crystal believes anyone with the passion to lead, concern for other people, and a desire to serve their community should take the step to go from HandsOn Broward volunteer to Project Leader. She sums up her feelings with one of her favorite quotes from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

You are the change, Crystal! A sincere thank you for all that you do for HandsOn Broward, the Miramar Community Garden, and Broward County.

Interested in participating in the monthly Miramar Community Garden project with Crystal? Click here to sign up.

Local Nonprofit Sends Valentines to Volunteers

Some well-deserving Broward County individuals received a surprise delivery last week from staff members of the local nonprofit, HandsOn Broward.  With balloons, candy and other goodies in hand, the staff members visited the homes, offices and nonprofit service sites of several of its most dedicated volunteers.

Sydney and Patty Howard

Sydney and Patty Howard

The organization, which works to mobilize volunteers in service activities that effect positive change in local communities, kicked off their day of thanks in Miramar, where they surprised a family of dedicated volunteers.  The Harrilal Family – Paula, Charles and Justis – participate in and help lead a variety of projects with ‪HandsOn Broward. Justis is the founder of ‪‎Team Justis, a group of volunteers who provide support to nonprofit agencies that focus on the food insecure and homeless in Broward.

The show of appreciation continued from Sunrise to Fort Lauderdale as deliveries were made to twelve more volunteers who have spent countless hours providing support to projects that help strengthen communities and build the capacity of local nonprofits to provide services.  Volunteers included Semithe Chevelon of Lauderdale Lakes, Janet and Shayla Rooks of Lauderhill, Crystal Hayes of Hollywood, Benjamin Benson of Sunrise, Suray Perez of Pembroke Pines, Tomas Leon of ARC Broward in Fort Lauderdale, Petrina Smith of Lauderhill and The Howard Family – Tim, Patty, Jonathan and Sydney – of Plantation.

?????????????????????????????????????“We wanted to spend Valentine’s Day saying thanks to some of our volunteers who show great love for our communities,” said Dale Hirsch, President and CEO of HandsOn Broward. “By contributing their time and talents, these volunteers are making a significant impact in the lives of others every day.”

Powered by Children’s Services Council of Broward County, HandsOn Broward provides year-round opportunities for individuals and families to volunteer in Broward.  The organization also provides direct service programming in the areas of economic development, youth leadership, urban gardening, disaster preparedness and response and nonprofit capacity building.

Semithe Chevelon

Semithe Chevelon

Janet Rooks

Janet Rooks

Crystal Hayes

Crystal Hayes

Tomas Leon and Jennifer Udan

Tomas Leon and Jennifer Udan

Petrina Smith

Petrina Smith

Justis and Paula Harrilal

Justis and Paula Harrilal

Benjamin Benson

Benjamin Benson

Suray Perez

Suray Perez

February Volunteer Spotlight: Petrina Smith

Petrina Smith

Our February Volunteer Spotlight belongs to Petrina Smith. Petrina became a HandsOn Broward volunteer in August 2014, and since then has already completed 223 hours of service and counting.

“I heard about HandsOn Broward by looking online for opportunities to volunteer. I Googled volunteering in Broward County and found HandsOn Broward. It’s been a joy ever since,” Petrina said.

Petrina has volunteered with a variety of organizations through HandsOn Broward, including Jubilee Center of South Broward, Broward Outreach Center, LifeNet4Families, and more. The volunteer opportunities she is most drawn to are those that help the hungry and homeless.

“These particular agencies/opportunities called out to me because it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. When I was working full time, my schedule did not afford me the flexibility to volunteer as often as I’d liked,” she said. “My experience with these organizations and the clients has been indescribable. It’s been humbling and uplifting at the same time. I have met some awesome people and the clients that are served have brought me a sense of joy and gratitude that I’ll forever be grateful for. They make me laugh and sometimes cry, but they always help me to be content with what I’m blessed with. I’m inspired by their thankfulness and resolve. Their attitudes and dispositions, all things considered, have been so rewarding to me. These experiences to help and give back to the community have been more of a pleasure and exhilaration for me than I ever imagined. I take delight in assisting those who are in need and I’ve learned so much.”

Petrina believes that everyone should take the opportunity to volunteer serving the hungry and homeless because it puts life in perspective. “Serving this population is humbling, it makes one thankful and grateful, and allows for a life altering experience. Volunteering with the hungry and homeless teaches one to be appreciative of what he/she has and it brings one joy to be able to provide for others and see what a difference that could make,” she said. “It strengthens the humane muscle of a person while allowing him/her to give from the heart. This is something that I feel each individual should experience in their lifetime.”

It is obvious when speaking with Petrina how genuine she is when it comes to service. She is passionate about helping others and making our community a better place. “Giving back to the community is a joy for me. It motivates me, I love the interactions from the clients and they teach me so much. This populace has so much to offer. I learn from them and I’m inspired by their stories. It helps me to grow and develop on my personal journey to give a little back,” she said.

As much as she enjoys making a difference for others, Petrina also believes that volunteering can make a difference in her own life as well. “Volunteering changes you. The experiences add to your character and alters your soul,” she said. “Volunteering improves me. It gives me the chance to experience worlds or opportunities that I may not have been able to otherwise.”

When asked what advice she would give to new volunteers, Petrina encourages others to find what inspires them the most and to give back in that area. “In so many ways, you’ll be transformed and it will mostly be from the heart side out. You’ll find joy in ways that you never imagined. You’ll meet people and make connections that may last a lifetime,” she said. “But most importantly, you’ll be doing something that just may inspire someone else… if not yourself. If you connect to the opportunity that touches you the most, it will bring you an amazing joy. It is great to live a life with the question of ‘How may I help you?’ always on your heart. It’s so worth it!”

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

Help HandsOn Broward Win $15,000!

VOTE FOR ‪#‎TeamHOB‬! HandsOn Broward is participating in the Community Aces Challenge – a Facebook voting challenge sponsored by Isle of Capri Casinos that gives charities a chance to win a share of $50,000. You can vote once daily until voting closes on March 20. Winners will be announced the week of April 6 – National Volunteer Week! Visit www.communityaceschallenge.com and search for HandsOn Broward! Voters must be logged in to Facebook to vote.

community aces