April Volunteer Spotlight: Leah Brown

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Our April 2018 Volunteer Spotlight goes to our social service minded Project Leader,
Leah Brown. She became a volunteer with us in July of 2017 and took on the mantle as Project Leader in October of the same year. Since then, her leadership capacity and confidence to lead has grown in a way that has made us proud to have her as one of our ambassadors. She had heard about HandsOn Broward by surfing the web for opportunities to volunteer, and said she was searching, “not just to serve but to be educated on the needs of the community.” She found just that and has made such a big impact on the community at social services projects.
Leah is a regular volunteer at the Young Professionals for Covenant House – Kids Fun Night where she enjoys interacting with the kids, listening to them and giving them her undivided attention. At the 33311 Family Festival she was instrumental in mobilizing the volunteer to help with vendor setup, welcoming patrons and providing support in the social services workshops. Movies, Muffins & Beyond had her participating in the cupcake baking and decorating with the children and families housed at the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Lauderdale. Survivors Stroll gave her the opportunity to connect with social service based non-profit organization Hosanna4Youth, finding more ways she can help to fill the need. Furthermore she attended the Children’s Services Council Ambassador Training which means that she is a part of a group committed to being CSC Ambassador at resource events in the community, which will reach families and children who may not be aware of the resources available to them.
“… [V]olunteering for HandsOn Broward has been nothing but beneficial in that I have met great people doing great things for the communities,” are Leah’s words about her experience at all of volunteer opportunities we exposed her to, “I have been able to service others with a smile and provide resourceful information to make lives better.” She does so much by taking the time to volunteer herself to help out in the community; you can see her huge passion for service at all the events she attends. She is active at her local church in,”practically all auxiliaries and have developed a passion for servicing others”. So while she was nervous at the opportunity to take on the role as HandsOn Broward Project Leader, she said that the role was, ” a duty and responsibility to my community; to advocate for agencies who help the public.” Since then she has grown tremendously as a Project Leader with us. She led the charge on mobilizing the volunteers for the Survivor Stroll and did a wonderful job at it, so much that the organizer expressed great gratitude for her being there, praised her wonderful personality and genuine passion for the work being done. This passion she
used to motivate the volunteers to serving there
Leah advises anyone looking to lead through service to become a volunteer. She says, ” whether it is a leadership role, or helping as a volunteer, we all can make a difference.”  Through her service, Leah has embodied the “change” we want to see in the world. In her words, ” [Service] is rewarding and gives you a sense of purpose while changing the lives of other.”
To all aspiring Project Leaders she says, “serve by listening and taking action; fill the need.” To her we say, “Thank You Leah for being the change”
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March Volunteer Spotlight: Jackie Pho

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Our March 2018 Volunteer Spotlight goes to the volunteer tutor extraordinaire, Jackie Pho. He started volunteering with us just a few months ago in November 2017 and has made a lasting impact. Jackie recalls, “I first heard about HandsOn Broward through the internet. I was looking for a better way to spend the free time that I had, that didn’t just involve staying home staring at screens all day.” He chose to act on his call to service and donate his time to those who needed it in his community.

So far, he has gravitated to opportunities in the area of early learning and literacy. ” My experience [volunteering] with HandsOn Broward has been fantastic. They led me to one of my favorite places in the world to volunteer at, Greater Horizons Academy!,” Jackie exclaims. Greater Horizons Academy mission is to provides high quality care, education, and a LIFELONG LOVE OF LEARNING to children from 6 weeks through school age, in a setting that is developmentally appropriate and intentionally inviting and administered by well-trained and caring adults. As a volunteer, Jackie has significantly contributed to the children, who are very receptive to his tutoring methods, his consistent visits and commitment to helping them learn.

When asked, why he enjoys volunteering, Jackie’s response was, “I enjoy volunteering because it gives me a real sense of accomplishment. I can see the change I’m effecting around me and it feels good. And because I work with kids, I get to see it firsthand on their face when they finally understand a math problem we’ve been chipping away at. I get to hear their laughs when I make an exaggerated voice during story time. And that makes it worth it.” Not only is his story an inspiring one, it is one that we hope that all of our volunteer have. Other opportunities that he has been a part of are Prepping for Broward Reads for the Record and the actual day of Broward Reads for the Record, which  tied into him being a constant volunteer with the After school Recreation  Program at Greater Horizon Academy.

Notably, he thinks that, “… it’s important for everyone to be actively involved in their community. There’s a difference between just living somewhere, and then being a productive member of society. And the difference can be as simple as just donating a few hours of your time to try and make the world a better place.” Volunteering fulfills his civic duty as a contributing community member and his impact is felt by the people our non-profits serve.

Everyone has the power to give back to their community, just like Jackie. He found us online and tell us how easy it is to start volunteering,”…with HOB [volunteering] is super simple: you get to pick and choose which assignment you want and when you want to do it, all online. So it’s perfect for people requiring service hours, or really anyone looking to give back.” Our website is very user friendly and is used by many individuals and families to get connected to opportunities to serve.

Jackie leaves all volunteers old and new with the message that, “Volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to try something out of your comfort zone. So do it! Go help plant trees at the park if you’re normally a couch potato, or read to kids in school on the side of town you never go to. You might learn something new about yourself.”

From us at HandsOn Broward, Thank You Jackie.

 

February Volunteer Spotlight: Team All for One: Aaliyah & Aldith

Processed with VSCO with  presetOur February 2018 Volunteer Spotlight goes to our Project Leaders, Aaliyah Shaw and Aldith Perry. Their journey began with us in March 2017 when Aaliyah was looking to get her graduation requirement for school; she wanted to exceed the expectation of 40 hours and garner 250 hour to qualify for the Silver Cord for graduation. Her mom Aldith, initially started by being only her daughter’s transportation to and from the volunteer events, then she was only an observer and eventually became a fully committed volunteer team with her daughter; Team All for One.

Initially, Aaliyah was recluse at the idea of volunteering, “I had no problem with the aspect of helping out in my community, but I’m a shy person and I was hesitant about going to different places and having to talk to people all the time,” she recalls. She soon found that it wasn’t as unnerving as she thought it to be. Aldith was along for the ride. She soon found the projects interesting and encouraged her daughter to do more.

Aaliyah and Aldith have worked on many projects including: Afterschool Recreation Program at Greater Horizons Academy, Fort Lauderdale Beach Sweep with Kids Ecology Corps, Sticker & Pizza Party, Hurricane Preparedness Blowout, Electronics Recycling at ARC Broward, Back to School Community Extravaganza, Merrill Lynch Bull Run and many others. They enjoyed volunteering with us so much that they became Project Leaders.

Aldith saw it fit for both to become Project Leaders, “I wanted to be more involved and I needed to get my daughter more involved… to develop some leadership skills and be more responsible.” Since then, Aaliyah has broken out of her shell and is more open with others. They have been reliable and dependable Project Leaders; always willing to rise up and give a helping hand whenever they can.

When asked about recommending others to become Project Leaders Aaliyah and Aldith make high praise of how this role teaches great responsibility and leadership skills. They both encourage new volunteers to, “give whatever you can give and even if it is only your time; this is so enriching” Aldith mentions that, “[volunteering] helps you feel better about yourself and when you go to these events it makes you realize that there is something out there that is much bigger than yourself, there are needs out there far greater than you can imagine, and it makes me feel good to be of service to the greater community.”

They leave us with the quote:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

January Volunteer Spotlight: “Team Verde” Lisa, Bella and Christian Verde

Our January 2018 volunteer spotlight goeVerdess to to the dream-work “Team Verde” Lisa, Bella and Christian Verde. They have been volunteering with us since 2015 and are passionate fans of our monthly DIY Volunteer Projects. Lisa, mom of Bella and Christian, found out about HandsOn Broward through Christian’s school, “We were referred to the HandsOn Broward website when my son Christian joined the Honors Society in middle school. It was listed as a service hour resource in the paperwork he was given.”

So far they have constantly volunteered and are passionate about the time they give to serve. “The organization has been instrumental in allowing us to find the majority of our service hour projects. The website is the perfect comprehensive list for any type of volunteering that an individual or organization is looking for. All of the staff are great to work with,” are their words after volunteering with us for since 2015. They have volunteered at the Fort Lauderdale Beach Sweep with the Kids Ecology Corps, Markham Park Butterfly Garden Project, Family Volunteer Day, Miramar Community Garden Volunteer Workday, Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve Clean Up and a number of Do-It-Yourself Projects.

Lisa shared with us how she first got involved with volunteering, “Honestly, I have been involved with community service hour projects my whole life. My elementary school regularly involved us in community clean ups in the nearby vacant lots, so I was exposed at a very young age. When my son got accepted into the Honor Society, it was a good opportunity to introduce my kids to volunteering outside of the Scouting organizations that they were already participating in.” Her kids have since followed in her foot steps and are actively passionate about service. This can be seen in their care when creating their DIY donations to help low-income families, the homeless, children with disabilities, the elderly and families in distress.

One of the best things about volunteering,Team Verde notes, is that, “It gives [us] a sense of fulfillment and allows [us] to spend some quality time [together]”

When asked why other volunteers should get involved with HandsOn Broward, Team Verde replied, “…HandsOn Broward is a respected and well known organization in the service hour community. You can feel safe dealing with their affiliate organizations.” Their advice to new volunteers is, “sometimes it is scary to drive and participate in something new. Or, it is hard to get up early on a weekend to be at a cleanup at 7am, but, if you will just try it, I think you will find the satisfaction that you receive from doing it, more than makes up for the fear you might feel. You meet a lot of new and interesting people that you would have not normally met in your usual daily activities, which to me, is priceless within itself.”

HandsOn Broward Welcomes Board Member, Justin Nepola  

 

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December 8, 2017- (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)– HandsOn Broward today announced that Justin Nepola was appointed to the organization’s board of directors.  Nepola, a founding partner at Nepola Attorneys at Law, provides legal services for real estate and estate planning clients. He has practice in Real Estate since 1997 with work in every aspect of the industry from commercial land lord tenant work to national title insurance underwriters.

“HandsOn Broward is honored to welcome to our board an individual with a spirit of service and a strong commitment to effecting positive change in our community,” said Dale Mandell, CEO of HandsOn Broward.

A long-time HandsOn Broward volunteer and community advocate, Nepola is also owner of Kaizen Beauty Academy.  Previously, he served as Vice President for AmTrust Financial Services, Account Manager for Old Republic National Title Insurance Underwriter and Property Manager for TN Property Management and Southern Management and Development.

“I am honored to be joining the HandsOn Broward Board of Directors.  From the first time I volunteered for a project I was hooked,” Nepola said.  “I love knowing that every project I work on has a lasting impact and no two projects are ever the same. Making the experience even more incredible is the fact that I can work side by side with my family.  I know of no other organization that creates so many opportunities for every member of the family, regardless of age, to get involved.”

Nepola earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Miami as well as a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California. He currently sits on multiple boards, including the Chairing Broward County Human Rights Board, Miramar Pembroke Pines Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Franklin Academy Excellence in Education Advisory Board, Charter Schools of Excellence Board of Directors and the City of Pembroke Pines Social Media Committee.

In addition to Nepola, HandsOn Broward’s Board of Directors consists of Ismael Martinez, Director of Family Success Administration in Broward County;  Dan Schevis, Community Advocate; Laura Johnson, Special Projects Coordinator of Florida Department of Children & Families; Matt Anthony, Community Advocate; Lisette Egues, Assistant Vice President of Baptist Health Outpatient Services; Arianne Glassman, President of rAv Communications; Brian Meister, President & CEO of Image360; Dawn Stagliano, Director of Government Affairs for Comcast; Noel Mauro, Vice President, Corporate Banking of City National Bank.

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 www.HandsOnBroward.org.

December Volunteer Spotlight: Antoine Bacchus

 

AntoineOur December 2017 volunteer spotlight goes to the avid volunteer, Antoine Bacchus. He has been volunteering with us since August 2017 and is an Urban Farming enthusiast of sorts. We first met Antoine when his sister Christina introduced us to him and his interest in volunteering. Antoine recalled, “I heard about HandsOn Broward [through] my sister when she was researching places where I could do community service”. HandsOn Broward was one of the top websites in her research results and they decided to check us out.

“My first opportunity that I attended during the summer of 2017 was kind of nerve wracking because I did not know what to expect or how the people would behave towards me,” expressed Antoine. He was shy in the beginning but after volunteering more regularly, it became natural for him to show up and exude a can-do attitude, “Now after doing several opportunities I consider myself as a semi-pro because I know what to expect when I attend an opportunity and I know the staff is more than willing to help me out if I have any questions,” said Antoine. Since August, he has been a regular volunteer at Urban Farming and Gardening at Dania Beach Patch, working on the urban farm by planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting. He proudly says that, “My favorite experience as a volunteer is at the Urban Farming and Gardening at Dania Beach Patch”.

“I enjoy volunteering because it gives me a chance to meet new people and to get out of my comfort zone,” Antoine said, “Initially what motivated me to get involved in the community [was] because I had to complete community service hours, but now I see [it as] opportunities that help other people and/or the nature.”

He has also volunteered at our Electronics Recycling at ARC Broward, Children’s Services Council Back to School Community Extravaganza Prep Day, and Miramar Community Garden Volunteer Workday.

When asked why other volunteers should get involved with HandsOn Broward, Antoine replied, “I think other volunteers should get involved with HandsOn Broward because it’s a new learning experience and when you are done you feel good about yourself that you made a difference in the community, even if it’s small.” His advice for new volunteers is to, “give the opportunities a chance with an open mind.”

 

November 2017 Volunteer Spotlight: Nilam and Kangana Modi

Our November 2017 volunteer spotlight goes to the mother and daughter duo, Nilam and Kangana Modi. They have been volunteering with us since April 2017 and are rock star volunteers in their own right. Nilam reached out to us because she wanted to get involved in volunteering with her 10-year-old daughter, Kangana. “Initially it was about volunteer hours, but once we started volunteering it changed our view,” are Nilam’s words. They had heard about HandsOn Broward from one of our current volunteers and decided to seek us out.

They found it a little difficult at first to find opportunities that accepted youth volunteers, but after connecting with us, we were able to help point them in the right direction. “We were amazed by the work Hands on Broward carries out,[and] we love to be a part of it!” remarked Nilam, “We feel valued and part of the team.” Since May, they’ve been “regulars” at our Kids Care Club projects – creating Mother’s Day & Father’s Day cards for the residents at Broward Outreach Center, creating dog and cat toys for local animal shelters, as well as participating in our Kids Care Club Disaster Prep Rally.

“We enjoy volunteering because as a mother and daughter, we get to spend time together on very important tasks which are helping our community,” Nilam said, “It has been a great experience for both of us. We learned a lot about the Broward community and how Hands on Broward helps improve the quality of community life.”

They have also volunteered at our Movies, Muffins & Beyond project at the Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Services Council Back to School Community Extravaganza, Keep Port Everglades Shipshape Drum Painting project, and more.

When asked why other volunteers should get involved with HandsOn Broward, Nilam replied, “Other volunteers should get involved with Hands on Broward to help the community, people in need, and the environment. We should give something back to an organization that has helped lots of people.”
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