Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year's Resolution

The new year is just around the corner, and for many people it's time for resolutions. While you're busy vowing to exercise more and eat less, you should also consider pledging a donation to HandsOn and help us Give Help to the Athens/Oconee community!

How much does a donation help? A simple $5 a month helps recruit 50 new volunteers. $10 can help fund a project for 20 volunteers. $25 provides tools for 50 volunteers. $40 helps fund a day of service project for 100 volunteers.

Not able to afford any monetary donations? Consider donating a day a month to a volunteer project. HandsOn initiatives SingleServe and FamilyServe provide opportunities for regular service projects. Also be sure to regularly check out our calendar for even more opportunites!
Please let us know about your New Year's Resolutions by leaving us a comment!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Give a Day. Get a Disney Day.

To celebrate the New Year, Disney and HandsOn are partnering to give volunteers one day free admission to any themepark at Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland. Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, go to to search for participating opportunities.  Give a Day. Get a Disney Day. program was developed to help gain more volunteers by celebrating good deeds with a trip to Disney. Tickets through the program are limited, so the earlier you volunteer the better your chances to win a ticket. Children over the age of 6 are also welcome to participate. Make your volunteer project a family affair and win the whole family a day at Disney! For more information on the program, visit

Monday, December 14, 2009

Help feed the hungry

Christmas is a time filled with parties and food (or if you're like the Grinch, feasts). Still, many people will be unable to participate in these activities because they are homeless or financially strapped this holiday season. There are many volunteer opportunities to help donate either food or time to help feed some hungry people.
Here's a list of agencies looking for volunteers:
-The Red Cross needs volunteers to help sort and stuff disaster relief kits (Dec. 15, Dec. 16)
-The Salvation Army is looking for volunteer bell ringers to help raise funds for the homeless
-Pour, Inc. needs volunteers to help with its 1st Annual Food Pantry (Dec. 16)
-A Bigger Vision of Athens is looking for volunteers to prepare and serve meals at the winter shelter (weeks of Christmas and New Years)
-Athens Urban Ministries will provide a Christmas Eve meal, call (706) 353-6647 (Dec. 24)
-Action, Inc. will provide food assistence for those in need, Monday-Friday (call (706) 549-9827)

Agencies collecting donations:
-Peace Place, Inc. (canned food)
-Alps Road Elementary (through Dec. 14)
-Athens Area Emergency Food Bank
-Food Bank of Northeast Georgia

Other food-related volunteer opportunities:
- Natural Resources needs people to be servers, photographers and organize crafts at its Breakfast with Santa (Dec. 19)

For more about these and other volunteer opportunities check out the calendar at or this week's Blueprint in the Athens Banner-Herald

Monday, December 7, 2009

Are you ready for a challenge?

HandsOn is kicking off its annual campaign fund with a challenge. If 10 new donors donate at least $10 by Dec. 10, our program director Art will match it with $100 donation!

In 2009, HandsOn helped provide over 8500 hours of volunteer service, including the largest MLK Day of Service. HandsOn used volunteer donations build a volunteer center that has helped serve the needs for over 80 community agencies.

How much does a donation help? $5 a month helps recruit 50 new volunteers. $10 helps fund a project for 20 volunteers. $25 provides enough tools for 50 volunteers. $40 helps fund a day of service project for 100 volunteers.

To make a donation, please use the following links:
Make a donation through Paypal
Make a donation through Causes

Please help us GIVE HELP to the Athens/Oconee community!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Give a toy to a child this holiday season

As the holiday season approaches, holiday wish lists begin appearing on refrigerators. Yet, many parents will be unable to provide toys for their children this holiday season. Want to be a Santa to many deserving kids? Here's a list of organizations collecting toys this holiday season:
-Barrow County Holiday Connection.
-Peace Place Inc. (stocking stuffers)
-Alps Road Elementary (through Dec. 14)
-Be a Santa to a Senior Program. Drop stations at Home Instead, Athens Community Council on Aging, Hodgson's Pharmacy, Walmart (Oconee) and Georgia Square Mall.
-Bigger Vision of Athens (stocking stuffers). Drop station at 415 N. Lumpkin St.
-BikeAthens (bicycles). Drop station at Bike Athens Bike Recycling Shop in the Chase Street Warehouses on Tracy Street.
-Sparrow's Nest Mission Church
-Elbert County Head Start (through Dec. 17)
-Jackson County Family Connection. Drop station at Jackson Creative, 106 Industrial Parkway in Commerce.

Want to help with the distribution of toys? Here are agencies looking for help:
-BikeAthens is looking for people to help refurbish bicycles that will be distributed to various children's agencies and schools. No mechanical experience necessary! (Dec. 2, Dec. 6-7, Dec. 9, Dec. 13)
-Sparrow's Nest needs help distributing toys to homeless families. (Dec. 3-5)
-Jackson County Holiday Store invites volunteers to come help set up and distribute toys to families. (Dec. 8-10)
-Athens Council on Aging is looking for gift wrappers to help wrap gifts for seniors. (Dec. 10)
-Barrow County Holiday Store is looking for volunteers to assist families shopping for toys. (Dec. 15-17)
-The Salvation Army wants volunteers to help distribute toys and food to families at their toy distribution. (Dec. 17)

For more about these and other volunteer opportunities check out the calendar at or this week's Blueprint in the Athens Banner-Herald

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sweaters for Seniors

This is a warm initiative that the Athens Community Council on Aging is working on and we wanted to share it with you:

"Sweaters For Seniors” Makes New Friends In Athens
September 21st, 2009

Last Friday, the “S4S” team had the chance to meet with Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA). The meeting, which came about through the magic of social media, was to discuss our newly formed partnership with them in our “sweaters” project.

It was through a friend of S4S’s Linkedin account, (Joan Curtis) that Michelle Brinson, Program Director, Senior Community Employment Service Program found us. She took the proverbial ”ball” of yarn and ran with it. And next thing you know, Sweaters For Seniors, up until now an Atlanta/Gwinnett program, will be benefitting seniors in Athens, too.

While we spent a few hours in Athens on Friday having lunch with Michelle, meeting with ACCA directors and touring their senior center and day care facility housed in an historic railroad depot–it’s impossible to fully comprehend all that ACCA is doing for seniors in Athens. Although, feel free to check out their website. I also hear they have an amazing newsletter!

With that said, today I simply want to acknowledge the committed individuals we met who make up a comprehensive team dedicated to the well being of seniors in Athens. They are:
Eve R. Anthony, Co-Deputy Executive Director; Sarah McKinney, Program Director, Home Delivered Meals; Paige Tidwell, Program Director, Kinship/Project Healthy Grandparents; and last but not least, Michelle Brinson, Program Director, Senior Community Employment Service Program

Keep up the tremendous work, ladies. And we look forward to working with you on “Sweaters For Seniors.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

iParticipate week

As you sit down to enjoy your favorite television show tonight, you may notice something a little different in the plot: volunteering. This week over 90 shows on all major networks will feature volunteering, as part of a week-long initiative called iParticipate week. iParticipate was started by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to using the influence and power of the entertainment industry to positively impact the community. iParticipate week is the first multi-network, week-long television event in history. The goal of iParticipate is to celebrate volunteering in local communities while also inspiring people to get out and actively volunteer in the community. Here is a complete listing of television shows promoting iParticipate:

America's Funniest Home Videos
Brothers and Sisters
Cougar Town
Dancing With the Stars
Desperate Housewives
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Grey's Anatomy
Modern Family
Private Practice
The Forgotten
Ugly Betty
All My Children
General Hospital
One Life to Live
The View
Jimmy Kimmel Live!


30 Rock
Access Hollywood
Parks and Recreation
The Biggest Loser
The Jay Leno Show
The Office


Accidentally on Purpose
Cold Case
Criminal Minds
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
CSI: Miami
Gary Unmarried
Ghost Whisperer
How I Met Your Mother
NCIS: Los Angeles
The New Adventures of Old Christine
Rules of Engagement
The Big Bang Theory
The Mentalist
Two and a Half Men
Late Show With David Letterman


America’s Most Wanted
Lie to Me
Major League Baseball
So You Think You Can Dance?
’Til Death
The Wanda Sykes Show (Future segment)

The CW

I Pledge


TeenNick HALO Awards


The Locator
My Fair Wedding


Army Wives (Future story line)
Project Runway
Rita Rocks


The Mo’Nique Show

Disney Channel

Wizards of Waverly Place
Sonny With a Chance
Hannah Montana
The Suite Life on Deck


American Morning
Showbiz Tonight: HLN

Syndicated shows

The Dr. Oz Show
Dr. Phil
Entertainment Tonight / The Insider
Extra: The Entertainment Magazine
Jerry Springer
Judge Jeanine Pirro
Judge Mathis

Source: Entertainment Industry Foundation

Be sure to tune in this week!
For more information about iParticipate, please visit the website:

For volunteer opportunities in the Athens area, be sure to check out HandsOn's calendar:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shannon's Year of Service

Well, here it is. This will be my last blog as an AmeriCorps member at Community Connection/HandsOn Northeast Georgia!! During my time, I have made quite a few friends and have really learned about volunteering, various service agencies in Athens-Clarke/Oconee/Barrow Counties, and how these agencies work to service needy people in them. The people that work for all the agencies, I have worked with or come in contact with, are dedicated and work tirelessly to ensure that all their clients have the very best service possible and that their needs are met, to the best of each agencies ability!! Many of the agencies can't do the work of their agency without the help of volunteers. The volunteers I have had the pleasure to work with are also dedicated and feel (and truly are) making a huge difference in the community. There are still many opportunities to volunteer and make a difference! The HandsOn website contains volunteer opportunities across all of the "needs" areas. Those opportunities also occur at various times and days that will fit into any schedule. Additionally, there are volunteer opportunities for singles, families, and groups. It doesn't matter who you are, you can find an opportunity. It just a matter of deciding on which one is right for you!! So, take a few minutes and browse the website. I know you'll be glad you did!! I have enjoyed working at HandsOn Northeast Georgia and will continue to volunteer for various projects in the future. I hope to see you there!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Is there a volunteer opportunity for me?

Earlier this year, President Obama challenged America to get out and volunteer. According to, in 2008, 26.4% of Americans actually spent time volunteering, a 0.2% increase from the previous year.

As more and more people begin to volunteer, more and more volunteer opportunities arise. Volunteer opportunities are not limited to building houses or sorting through food at food pantries (although these are wonderful opportunities to be involved with). Maybe your talent isn't with swinging a hammer or organizing boxes of cans. So, where can you get involved?

Opportunities to volunteer are as numerous as people's individual talents and skills. Good working with children? Try mentoring. Like being outside? Become a trail guide or volunteer with landscaping projects. Skilled with computers or other technology? Offer to do web design or help out with social media at an agency.

No matter what your skill set, there is always an opportunity to volunteer. What are some areas other areas to volunteer? What are some areas you would like to see more opportunities with?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oconee Animal Shelter Gardening & Landscaping

Saturday the 18th of July was an excellent day for a project at the Oconee County Animal Shelter! The weather was fantastic! The temperature was in the 70's, at the start, and rose to the high 80's but with low humidity it was perfect for working outdoors. The work group consisted of ten young adults from the Mormon Church, Geri, the project Coordinator, and me. Geri and I arrived early and organized the equipment and sign-up table. The group arrived early and was ready to work, so Geri signed everyone in, gave a safety and work briefing, and showed the group the different places where they would be working. There were three areas to be weeded and mulch to put down in one of the areas. The group worked hard and even found some innovative ways to get the work done (picture)!! There was an amazing transformation from a group of weed infested areas to beautifully cleaned up areas awaiting future plantings (link to pictures). The next work day will be the 15th of August. Follow this link to the HandsOn Website to sign up for the next one!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

SingleServe at the Morton Theater

SingleServe provides an opportunity for singles to connect while volunteering together in the Classic City.
Why get involved with SingleServe? Committee Chair Ashley Harp says:

"Two years ago, I found myself in a new, old city. The Athens area is where I grew up, but ten years of college, grad school, and life in another state had made a new city out of the Classic City. How to get involved, become more a part of the community and meet people like me - other singletons in their 20s and 30s - was a challenge.

"Enter SingleServe. It's a group of singles who volunteer about once a month on a project through Hands On Northeast Georgia. Hands On connects us to the organizations that have volunteer needs, and we supply the 'hands on' the ground to get things done.

"This year, SingleServe has cleaned up a playground, set up a major exhibit at the Classic Center and staffed AthFest. Later this month, we'll be at the Morton Theatre ushering for a performance of Bye, Bye Birdie. And more projects are under development now.

"SingleServe is a way to meet people, to make friends, and best of all, to give back to the community. If you're looking for a volunteer opportunity for parties of one, come join us!"

SingleServe's latest project is ushering for Bye, Bye Birdie, a production of Athens Creative Theatre, at the Morton Theatre July 23.
Enter to win a pair of free tickets to the event one of two ways:
1. Using Twitter: Beginning at 9 am July 17, tweet "@HandsOnNEGA is the best way to get involved in the Classic City #followfriday".
2. Using Facebook: Become a fan of the HandsOnNEGA page, and like our status when it
says "SingleServe volunteering at the Morton Theatre."
The contest closes at 8 pm July 17. Winners will be announced shortly after closing.

For more information about SingleServe, Athens Creative Theatre or the Morton Theatre, please check out the following websites:
Morton Theatre

Monday, June 22, 2009

HandsOn With Dad turned out to be a great event. There were 40 volunteers from numerous families taking part to spend some time with their Dad's while cleaning up Sandy Creek Park. The temperature was hot, in the nineties, and very few clouds. It was going to be a day requiring sunshade, hats, and lots of water!! Three projects were created for this effort. One was a clean up of the lake area. The volunteers got in canoes and paddled around the lake, picking up trash found on the shoreline and in the water. Many bags of trash were collected, making the area much more pristine and clean. Another project was working on Swimming Deer Creek Trail. The volunteers were transported by pontoon boat to the midpoint of the trail and walked a mile and a half to the trail starting point. They picked up trash along the trail and cut branches and invasives from protruding into the trail. They also enjoyed the fact that it was a shaded area abd therefore much cooler than the other projects!! The last project was in one of the dog park areas. Volunteers cleared invasives and other overgrowth from along the fence line and away from a picnic area located inside this dog park. A great deal of this growth was cleared away, except for those areas that had poison ivy!!! Those areas were reported to the staff for later removal by them. Overall, a lot of work was accomplished during the project time. At the end of the work day, the volunteers assembled in the "air conditioned" visitor center for lunch. It consisted of an excellent array of four kinds of sandwiches, salad, feta cheese, pita chips, various kinds of crackers, and dip which were provided by Mama's Boy and Marti's At Midday. All the volunteers dug in to the lunch with gusto and shared stories about their day. Everyone present said they really enjoyed working at the park. It was a most delicious and cool end to a great day of service for Dads and their families at Sandy Creek Park!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Action Inc.'s Senior Grocery Grocery Bag program's last distribution, April 22nd, was incredible! Volunteers from the Oconee County Resource Council (OARC), HandsOn Northeast Georgia AmeriCorps, and Action Inc. were on hand to offload food supplies, sort these supplies into the grocery bags, and distribute them to the 36 Seniors currently on the program's active list. All of the Seniors were appreciative and one even prepared sausage biscuits, ham, and fruit to the volunteers! It was a special time for all the volunteers to see how the Seniors reacted and showed their appreciation. There are still some Seniors on a waiting list and, with the help of the OARC, the program should be able to expand to help them too. Next month, a group of Boy Scouts are planning to 'fix-up' a storage room, at the distribution site, and build storage shelves for that room, enabling food and other donations to be stored there. This will help expand the program and may lead to further programs, within Oconee County, for Action Inc. and the OARC. This distribution takes place the third Wednesday of each month, at the Bishop Community Center, with the packaging work done the Tuesday afternoon before. Seniors wanting to be included must contact Action Inc. @ (706) 769-3981 or (706) 546-8293 Ext.#17. You can also check out their new and improved website for information. Volunteers, check out the HandsOn website for details. It's a great opportunity for you to join-in, help, and see first hand the results of being a volunteer!

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Global Youth Service Day experience was a memorable and exciting one. For my part in this service day I was the volunteer coordinator at Southeast Clarke Park along with the FRIENDS of Southeast Clarke Park. It’s a very beautiful and family friendly park. There were about six enthusiastic youth with me at this site. We helped pull weeds and spread mulch around the park area. Everyone had a great time mingling with each other and getting a great workout while working under the sun. At the end of our activity, each volunteer had an opportunity to state how they felt about the day’s activity. One senior student from Clarke Central High School stated that the students at the high school were not able to get many opportunities to do such activities. She believed that it would be a great idea to get more clubs and student organizations involved in the community, even if its just students taking pride in their schools through activities similar to the one in Southeast Clarke Park. So, look for a change in direction for Global Youth Service Day 2010. There may be more of an effort to get the schools and school district involved in student volunteerism!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Athens Youth Give Back

On Saturday, April 25th, 2009 Athens Youth gave back to the community in a big way. With the help of Athens-Clarke County Stormwater, Athens Area Community Council on Aging, Sparrow's Nest, and UGA Greek Ambassador Program over 30 youth were engaged in environmental projects aimed to increase community awareness of pollution run-off into streams and how to build rain barrels for community use at homes, businessess, and schools. The projects were a great success and the youth were engaged and eager to help out. Most importantly, they learned the benefits of using rain barrels to save water and how pollution can run-off into our streams through the stormdrains in the community. Overall, it was a great day! They worked hard from 9:30AM-12:30PM and every minute was valuable and beneficial time. Our hope is that next year we will see our numbers grow so that the youth of Athens-Clarke County can make a bigger impact for years to come.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Global Youth Service Day

HandsOn Northeast Georgia is excited to be organizing local projects as part of Global Youth Service Day. This is the first time that we have had local projects associated with this global event and we have five great projects planned.

- Rain Barrels making
- Storm Drain decal project
- Clean-up at a local school
- Helping at a community garden
- Beautifying a local park

Thank you to Athens-Clarke County Stormwater and Georgia 4-H for their support of these projects.

To sign-up click here!
Youth under age 15 must have parent or adult supervision. All volunteers under age 18 must have a youth waiver signed.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

With the help of the ORAC, I've been asked to become a project chair for the Area Committee to Improve Opportunities Now's (ACTION, Inc.) Senior Grocery Bag Program (SGBP). It a much needed program where senior citizens in the Oconee County area recieve grocery and personal items once a month. At the present time there are 24 seniors that receive this assistance with an additional 12 to receive it in April. It's a great program and there is a lot of room for expantion. We hope to get area buisness, churches, and organizations to sponsor the program each month. They can help with buying items for the Senior's bags, packing the grocery bags the day/night before, and handing them out, the next day. Currently, all the Seniors or their designated representatives come to pick-up the grocery bags at the Bishop Community Center. There is hope that the program can be expanded, in the future, to include delivery, too! Seniors can also be sponsored by individuals. Sponsorships for one Senior is $15.00 a month or $180.00 a year. A one-time contribution to ACTION, Inc., donations to Family Connection, as well as to the Food Bank ear-marked for the SGBP are also options. You can even purchase a gift card or a credit from a local grocery store for the program. Items can be dropped of at the ORAC office in Watkinsville as well as the ACTION, Inc's offices in Athens or Bishop. Any and all contributions will be welcomed!! There is also room for volunteers to come and assist with this and other programs. For more information, contact ACTION, Inc. at 706.769.3891 or 706.546.8293 ext. #17 or the OARC at 706.769.4974. You can also look on ORAC's website: and click on Community Action Team (CAT) for information about this and other programs. Make the commitment, bring a smile to the Seniors of Oconee County today!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Taste of Athens

This year's 'Taste' was an incredible experience, for me. I had been staring at pictures, loaded into my screen-saver, from last year's event. I couldn't wait to go through the experience. I was not disappointed!! The foods, the smells, the visual presentations, and, most of all, the tastes!!! It was a dream come true. I wandered, very happily, among the 1,300 or so people (volunteers, vendors, donating customers, guests, media, etc.) watching and savoring the whole awesome spectacle. There was no cooking competition, this year, but the cake competition was fantastic. There were some truly, remarkable entries. I would not wanted to have been the judges. The items donated for the silent auction were fantastic too. There was a constant serpentine movement around the tables where the items were placed and bidding continued till the clock stopped it. Even as the event ended, one vendor, drawing cartoon caricatures, still had a line of people waiting to get their pictures made. Everyone I talked to stated how well the event went and how much they enjoyed it. I certainly was not disappointed and look forward to next year's event with anticipation!!

Seeing IS Believing

I took the Seeing is Believing Bus Tour on Tuesday Feb. 17th which was sponsored by the Junior League of Athens. I have to say that I did learn a lot about the Clarke County School District. There are many programs offered for students, as well as access to a very well qualified staff. As with all school systems, test scores, great stories and high achieving students as well as talented students were stressed throughout the morning. Sometimes it would be nice to know the challenges that schools deal with as well as the many successes. As long as we continue to sing the praises of those who excel, we will continue to give up on those who don’t. Education should not be a competition for trophies or acceptance letters; but that’s for another blog. After we loaded the bus to attend our designated school site, we were shown about the school by the principal. I had the pleasure of visiting Classic City High School. The instructional design of the school is very impressive. It’s nice to see people take an interest in their education. I have always been a firm believer in offering different educational routes for students. Though I couldn’t help but notice that the overwhelming majority of the students were black or Hispanic. Being a political scientist, I know that even though these students have the means to become productive members of society, they may never gain the political or economic success as their well educated classmates…but that’s for another blog as well. Overall, I was impressed with my experience at Classic City High School. Yet, my experience may have been different had I gone to another school. I guess seeing is believing. However what you believe depends on what you see.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Are you Involved or Committed?

This week we participated in the Junior League of Athens, Seeing is Believing Bus Tour of the local schools. The event over all was great and insightful. The tour and speakers were able to highlight many of the great enrichment activities and programs that the schools offer and some share some of the successes that the numbers don't always show.

During the morning, one of the speakers discusses the importance of not just being involved in our schools and with our youth but the need to make a real commitment- to invest of yourself. He highlighted his talk with an analogy about involvement versus commitment by discussing breakfast. The speaker said to think about the eggs, toast, and bacon or ham that people eat for breakfast. You see the chicken, they were involved in providing the eggs your eating, but the pig he really committed himself to the cause.

Many time we as volunteer participate in activities in the community and our schools. We attend days of service like MLK Day, Hands On Athens, and Rivers Alive. We attend fundraisiers and support canned food drives and buy Girl Scout cookies. And while these are all GREAT and important activities that result in a lot of good for our community- there is still a large need for committed volunteers to take on the leadership roles and undertake the organizing of the projects. Schools and nonprofits need volunteers to make that on-going commitment to help plan an event or to lend your skills and expertice to a larger, on-going project.

So as we move forward in banding together through these tough times- we ask all our volunteers to ask yourself are you involved or are you committed? If you want to make that commitment or have an idea, but just don't know where to start- give HandsOn a call. We have leadership opportunities and can provide you with the training and tools you'll need to tackle any cause. And to those of you that have already made the commitment by serving on a PTO or board, by serving as a project leader or a regular volunteer for a project. We thank you for making that commitment.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Youth and Community Service

The creation of a community service program in the Clarke County school system is an important step in teaching young children and teenagers about the purpose of community involvement. It seems only necessary that we all understand that we need to give of ourselves as much as we take. The committee in charge of creating the Clarke County community service program is full of members who are dedicated to teaching youth about the joys of giving back to the community. Though we’ve stumbled on many issues as to the logistics of how the program will work, we know that a clear path is not far. I’ve been diligently researching other schools systems to see how their community service programs work. What I have found are very creative and engaging programs yet each of these schools lacks what Clarke County doesn’t; a high number of underprivileged youths. Are we only supposed to engage those students who have the means to get to project sites after school and on Saturday? The answer across the board is no. There has to be a way to connect all students to the purpose and need for community service.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Red Cross

I've been doing some work with the Emergency Services section of the East Georgia Chapter of the Red Cross. What I've learned has opened my eyes some. We all know that the Red Cross will assist during natural disasters but they do much more than hand out coffee. They provide shelters to the disaster victims as well as food and water. The Red Cross works with community partners and refers out clients to those partner agencies, based on needs, for things such as small business loans, house rebuilding loans, and personal loans. They don't give the loans, the partner agencies do that. They are NOT a government agency and are funded by donations from the individuals and business in the communities they serve. They also respond to house fires, when notified, and provide assistance, on a case by case basis, with housing, medicines, and some cash. For our Service members, the Red Cross is chartered by Congress to verify emergency leave requests and pass them to each of the service branches so they can pass the requests to the service member’s command. Each service members command makes the decision to grant or deny this leave. In some of these cases financial aid is requested. The Red Cross submits the request with documentation to the Military Aid Society and it grants or denies the request. All these services and they're done, mostly, by volunteers! These volunteers may have regular jobs during the day or night or may be retired. They are extensively trained by the local chapters, at no charge. There are about five basic courses all volunteers are given and then specific training for each area they choose to 'specialize' in. The Red Cross is extremely proud of these volunteers and their dedication to serve their community. Are you interested? Please click on the link( ) and check it out. Also, next time you see a Red Cross volunteer, tell them thank you!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MLK Day of Service On

Following the MLK Day of Service and the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, I have a smile on my face recalling the events of the week. One thing that really resonates with me is the power of individuals to shape the communities he/she lives in. Rather than waiting on government to take action, it has been individuals who have heard the call of services and without any compensation offered his/her services to the community. To me, volunteers are the unsung heroes of this great nation we call home. On a day when one could have taken the day for leisurely activities, so many opted to use the skills he/she possesses to do various projects on MLK Day. There were many individuals who were instrumental to the success of the day, and to each and every person who had any part in the organizing the day, I say thank you for your selfless work. To the nearly 800 volunteers, who in the midst of the cold and other elements, choose to come out and make it a day on, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. This week really gives me hope that the spirit of community which has contributed to the success of this nation continues with today's generations. For all those who brought their children or younger members of organizations to MLK Day of Service, I really commend your efforts because it was seeing the children at the event which has given me the greatest hope that change for the greater good is indeed possible, and the spirit of giving back will live on with future generations.

Friday, January 23, 2009

MLK: The Value of Giving Time

First off, I’d like to say thank you to all the project coordinators, and task leaders. Without you, this day would not have been possible.
The MLK Day of Service in Athens, Georgia proved to be a time of community and commitment. As I visited the sites, I witnessed great volunteer participation, laughter and lots of hard work. I took many pictures and thus have an incredible library of the day. I wonder why people take the time out of their busy schedules to volunteer. I mean, Monday January, 19th was a day off of work for most. I believe people volunteered because of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. True, there were some there with other reasons for volunteering however, the overwhelming reason was to be involved in a cause greater than oneself. I hope that the 800+ volunteers who showed up on MLK day realize that Dr. King did not volunteer his time one day out of the year, rather he dedicated his life to volunteering. Like many of you, I am a very busy person who gets tired and just wants to relax on Saturday. However, I remember people like Dr. King and realize that he too was tired yet he continued to give of himself. If we really wish to continue his legacy, we must be willing to give of our time and talents even when we are tired and worn out. A community can only thrive when we are all willing to put in the time and effort to see it through.

The day of the project, at The Tree House in Winder, started out extremely cold. The delivered topsoil was even frozen! Jeff, my co-Hands On AmeriCorps member, and I decided, that once the work began everyone would warm up. We were expecting 13 volunteers but, to our surprise, 29 showed up! This was going to make the rock removal portion of the tasks, we had planned, go much better. We could work in shifts and rotate people around so the ‘shovel’ work would be spread (no pun intended) around. The volunteers included representatives of three Cub Scout Dens, two MBA students at UGA, a North Georgia Tech. college student, nine Boys and Girls Club of Winder middle school students and their adult leaders, an employee of The Tree House and her family, four members of the Barrow County CERT, and other individual, Barrow County residents. As the day progressed, the day grew slightly warmer and everyone was ‘warming’ (pun intended, this time) to their tasks. A reporter from The Barrow County News came, interviewed various people, and took photos. Lunch was provided, at a reduced rate, by Sonic. Even the topsoil and mulch were provided and delivered by Home Depot, at a reduced rate. At the close of the project, all that came and worked had a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction about the work done. The Tree House Director and Jeff and I thanked everyone for their hard work and participation. Jeff and I reminded them to check the Hands On website for future projects. We collected all the tools, made sure the site was clean, and left, secure in the knowledge, that Hands On AmeriCorps and some great MLK volunteers had made a safer place to play, to just be kids, for children going through a terrible time in their life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We made it a DAY ON!

Thank you to the 700-800 volunteers
that came out on MLK Day to volunteer at 25 sites. The sites have expressed GREAT appreciation for all the work and progress made during the projects. We are humbled by the great turnout of volunteers year after year on what has become the largest single day of volunteer service in Athens! From the children that came out with their parents and friends to clean our schools, cemeteries, and parks and the seniors that provided support by assisting with check-in and lunch, to the many civic groups and businesses that came out in large numbers, many even adopting a site and providing the necessary skills and tools to complete the project, the Athens area definitely answered the call to serve on this MLK Day.

We encourage all volunteers to turn the day on into a on-going commitment to service and remind you that many of the agencies served on MLK Day have opportunities throughout the year.

To see some coverage about the MLK Day of Service, please visit Athens Banner Herald, Red & Black, and Spotted

Friday, January 2, 2009

Athens MLK Day projects listed

The Athens MLK Jr. Day of Service is set for January 19, 2009 with over 20 projects scheduled!  Volunteers can now visit to learn more about the day of service and sign-up for the project they would like to assist.  From the Athens MLK Day page, individuals can also find us on Facebook and YouTube, as well as, play on-line games.