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Looking forward to Our United Way Day of Caring

UWTJADoCLogoJPGLargeOur 23rd annual United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring is September 17, 2014. We have spent the summer working with local nonprofits and schools who have submitted their project needs, and with the 100+ teams of volunteers from local businesses and organizations. The level of enthusaism from both sides never fails to impress us. Nonprofits are thrilled to have their walls painted, grounds landscaped, closets organized, trails clears, playgrounds refreshed and so much more. The volunteers are looking forward to getting out into the communities where they work and live and working as teams to accomplish needed tasks.

Our sponsor, Charlottesville Newsplex, created this public service announcement about this year's United Way Day of Caring. We are looking forward to September 17 and seeing so many people involved in volunteering.

 

Submitted by: Kim Connolly

 

 

 

Reflections of Our UVa Summer Intern

Bernice for web croppedWhat a summer it has been! Here I am reflecting on my internship experience with United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, but it still seems unreal that eight weeks have flown by. During my time here I worked mostly on data analysis and management, but also had opportunities to learn about community engagement, grant writing and project management. As a Global Development Studies (GDS) and Statistics double major at U.Va., my internship with the United Way was the perfect fit for me.

A key project I worked on this summer was analyzing survey data for United Way’s free tax preparation and prescription assistance programs. United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area takes the feedback of its beneficiaries very seriously in improving its programs. An issue that GDS majors often discuss is accountability, as the views of program recipients can sometimes be overshadowed by opinions of donors and staff members. Surveys can help counter this by allowing program recipients to evaluate the services they are receiving. The statistical side of me also enjoys crunching numbers and translating them into meaningful conclusions on how effective the programs were. I have been challenged by United Way’s impact - or outcome - based approach to evaluating both grant applications and its own programs. It is a testament to United Way’s self-critical lens, as well as the power and importance of information.

Throughout my internship I was also able to attend meetings with other agencies, where I found out about what they do and how the United Way is working with them. United Way embraces collaboration as a powerful way to meet the needs of the community. Rather than reinventing the wheel (another concern that GDS majors often discuss), United Way often redirects needs to other agencies that may already have existing programs in place. It has an Information and Referral Center that refers callers to services provided by other agencies, and it also linked up Walmart with the Salvation Army when the company wanted to organize a school supplies donation drive.

bernice quoteFundamentally, the United Way is committed to community engagement. This often involves pairing up volunteers with projects that would best tap their interests and talents. Even as an intern, I was given a lot of say in what meetings I wanted to tag along on and which staff members I wanted to shadow. I even got to go on a local radio show one week to talk about my internship! United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area truly celebrates differences and collaboration, tapping into the various things people and agencies bring to the table to make the biggest impact.

Of course, the best part of the internship was how much I enjoyed getting to know the staff at United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area. Over the past eight weeks, I met passionate and dedicated individuals who so warmly welcomed and mentored me. They have truly inspired me to become more active and engaged in the world around me, and I now want more than ever to explore a future career in the nonprofit sector. Thank you all for a wonderful summer internship experience!

Posted by: Bernice Tay, United Way Summer Intern

STUFF THE BUS for Local School Children

Buying back to school supplies is a rite of passage for kids and their parents. But when you are living paycheck to paycheck that once a year expense can put a big dent in a family's budget.

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When the Charlottesville Walmart store contacted our office about holding a Stuff the Bus school supply drive during Virginia's Tax Free Weekend August 1 - 3, we were happy to help. In fact, we suggested that the store partner with the Salvation Army because they already run a school supply drive for kids who qualify for free and reduced lunches in Charlottesville City schools and Albemarle County Schools. We encourage partnerships, so this seemed like a perfect match.

blog text block vertical blueblog text block verticalIf you can't make it to Walmart between August 1 - 3, the community-wide drive continues until August 11. Volunteers are also needed Monday August 11 through Thursday August 14 from 10 - 2 at the Salvation Army gym to help sort and pack the supplies to go to the schools. If you can put in a few hours on any day, please call the Salvation Army at 295.5058, ext. 114.

 Posted by: Kim Connolly, Vice President of Community Engagement

5 Ways College Grads can Use Volunteer Experience To Get A Job

Finally, some good news for college grad job seekers.

Forbes recently pulled together 15 career experts and asked them to share interview tips for college grads. According to one career expert from LinkedIn, 42% of hiring managers say, “they view volunteer experience equivalent to formal work experience.” (So feel free to breathe a huge sigh of relief if you, like me, can’t afford the path of unpaid internships to build your resume after college.)

But this news is a huge win for Millennial job seekers! As a generation, we’re already civic-minded, which apparently sets us on a great path to landing a future job. But it isn’t as easy as “I volunteered in college – I’ll take one job, please!” So how can you use your experience wisely?

IMG 1801 small1. Numbers, stats and specificity will impress more than vague references.
While employers love the idea of hiring altruistic and kind people, it isn’t enough to set a candidate apart from the rest of the pack. So on your resume, list out specific actions you took that yielded specific results for your cause, along with exact numbers for the inputs (what you put into the project), outputs (what came out of your activity), and a description of the outcomes (the change in condition felt by the people or community you served). Be ready to expand on those numbers during your interview.

2. Use examples that show you can do THIS job well.

If you’re telling the same story the same way in every job interview, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Identify the core competencies the employer wants to see from an applicant and talk up those aspects of a volunteer project. Let’s say you helped execute a massive fundraising campaign on your campus. At times, you probably had to coordinate a lot of moving pieces for events. At other times, you may have had to use your communication skills to persuade people to take a certain kind of action (which is an actual prompt I have used in behavioral interviews, by the way). Figure out what skills the interviewer wants to hear about and focus your answer on those skills.

3. Seek out employers who will value your experience.

Service corps like Americorps and Teach for America, government agencies, issue campaigns, and nonprofits like us here at United Way are extremely interested in hiring applicants with relevant volunteer experience. And for-profit companies value volunteer experience, too. Every year Deloitte hosts an Alternative Spring Break with United Way where high-performing underclassmen spend a week volunteering alongside Deloitte’s young professionals and partners. Deloitte gets to see how students perform working in teams to improve lives. And students—who we know want to work for a socially responsible employer—get a chance to peek inside Deloitte’s awesome, community-focused culture. It’s a win-win, especially considering so many students from this ASB program now work for Deloitte.

4. Use your volunteer opportunities as a chance to network.

It’s a fact of life: landing your dream job can sometimes boil down to who you know. Hiring managers are pressed for time, often reviewing hundreds of resumes. So when you meet people, leave a positive lasting impression on them. It may help ensure your resume gets a second look and may lead to a foot in the door. So next time you’re volunteering, get to know the staff. See if you can interact with their executive director. Tell them you’re looking for jobs and ask if they know anyone at X, Y and Z employers. Some of the most powerful people in your community sit on the boards of local nonprofits. By volunteering, you could be stepping into a very influential network. Leverage it!

5.  Make your volunteering count.

No one will hire you if you describe your volunteering experience as, “I sat at the front desk and answered the phone one day.” With every volunteer opportunity, you have the chance to support a cause you’re passionate about, change someone’s life, grow as a leader and refine your skills. Take it seriously and give it your all!

Happy job hunting!

To learn more about local volunteer opportunities, visit www.CvilleVolunteer.org or call Kim Connolly, Vice President of Community Engagement at 434-972-1701.

Guest post by: Edwin Goutier, Manager of Student United Way at United Way Worldwide.

 

 

United Way Day of Caring Planning in Full Swing!

DoC LOGOforWebOur United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring may not be until September 17, however we are fielding daily emails and phone calls about agency projects and volunteer teams. Although the event is a couple of months away, coordinating the anticipated 2,300 volunteers with the 200+ projects from more than 100 local schools and nonprofit agencies does require lots of advance time.

This year we hope the process will be that much smoother, thanks to our updated CvilleVolunteer.org website and the ability for teams and agencies to register online. The deadline for registering is July 23, and on August 13, the teams can select their preferred projects on a first-come, first serve basis, again by using the website. We hope that will eliminate our need for the monster spreadsheets we have used in the past.

Most importantly, our United Way Day of Caring means that local nonprofit agencies and schools will be introduced to teams of volunteers from local businesses and organizations that want to give back to their community in meaningful ways. We hope that many will be inspired to return to those agencies to volunteer year-round.

To learn more, visit www.DayofCaring.info, or call Kim Connolly, Vice President of Community Engagement, at 434-972-1701.

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A Farewell from our Volunteer Center Director

Jessica 2 for webI’ve spent a lot of time reflecting over the past week about my time at United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area. I still remember sitting in class my junior year at Mary Baldwin College listening to an alumna speak about pouring her passion for helping others into her local United Way. That was the first time I realized that I could put my skills in planning and organizing into a career with a nonprofit.

Here I am several years later realizing that vision I had that moment became a reality in my time with the United Way. My love for color-coded folders, to-do lists and planning months in advance has turned into successful United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring events, a book drive, an inaugural United Way Family Volunteer Day and more. I have watched ideas grow and become real events that have hopefully made an impact during my time here.

Heath in officeWhile I can only hope that I’ve made a difference on our community, I know that my time here has made a difference on me. I’ve met people who have inspired me to be more kind, more active, more engaged and more motivated. I’ve made friends that I will stay connected with forever. I became a mom for the first time and was lucky to have board members and colleagues who encouraged me and supported me in my quest to be a hands-on mother and a reliable, hard working employee. I also realized that not everything can be planned out perfectly and that sometimes, life is all about the adventure.

Now, it’s time for me to start a new adventure with my family. Our boxes are packed and we’re headed from the land of orange and blue to the city of black and gold. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each of you for your support, your encouragement and your patience as I have grown into this role. It’s a bittersweet day for me to leave behind a role that has been so rewarding to me. I am excited, though, to meet new people and find new ways to plug into my new community. I’ve been told that I need to learn the lingo of Pittsburgh, so I’ll say this one more time to an audience who will understand me…thanks for everything, y’all! Take care!

 

Posted by: Jessica Snyder, United Way Volunteer Center Director

 

Note: United Way staff are providing a seamless transition in carrying on Jessica's responsibilities. Kim Connolly, Vice President of Community Engagement is leading the Volunteer Center as well as the United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring, with the able assistance of Megan Borishansky, our Information and Referral Specialist. We are here to help you with your volunteer needs. Call us at 434.972.1701.

Toddlers to Teens Learn About Volunteering

Fam Vol Day for Web 1When we opened the doors on our first United Way Family Volunteer Day last Saturday, almost immediately one very sweet little girl bounced up to our table asking about learning to sew a blanket. I explained to her that she may not learn to sew, but she could definitely help decorate a blanket square that would go into a blanket for a child who was sick. She responded “So my blanket square will help another kid feel better and then they can go home from the hospital with their family and not be sick anymore? What about the kids with no family? What about the children who are poor?”

Fam Vol Day for Web 2Her quick response left me completely speechless. Without knowing it, she proved to me why we need the United Way Family Volunteer Day and she reminded me that kids want to help. At such a young age, she completely understood that there were people struggling with illness and poverty and she wanted to help. She was excited to help.

We had 86 children come through this first United Way Family Volunteer Day, most spending over an hour (some stayed for 3 hours!) doing hands on projects that would help. Some were young and colored outside of the lines. Some were teens looking for community service opportunities. But the only thing that mattered on Saturday was that they cared and that they were excited to help others.

Fam Vol Day for web 3While there may not be a lot of volunteer opportunities suitable for small children, I encourage parents to be creative. Talk to your kids about volunteering and about the needs in our community. Find ways that they can get hands-on in the efforts to make our community a better place, whether that is collecting food for a food pantry, writing letters to soldiers or visiting a lonely neighbor. Search for any chance to help plant the seed that there are people with no family and there are people who are sick or poor and that we all have the power to make an impact.

 

Posted by: Jessica Snyder, United Way Volunteer Center Director

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