Georgia Connector Magazine Spring 2011 : Page 11

lost faith in the human spirit. “When I started as Volunteer Coordinator several years ago, I did not have any idea the amount of caring and compassion in most people. Before, I would have been amazed, but now that I have seen it, I’m not. Compassion is in most of us.” So for the last four years, Amy has made volunteering part of her life and teaches her children how generous people can be. “We do neighborhood food drives – the fi rst one was Halloween for the Hungry -and bring the food here and bag it. I started with my two-year old on my back.” Amy’s children – nine, six and two – are “always excited to see how much food they can get.” “ is is something that makes a tangible diff erence and teaches my kids that we are lucky to have what we have. I wanted them to see it fi rst hand and be a part of their lives. “Volunteering my time has helped me to feel more connected to the Athens community and has helped me to carry on a tradition passed down from my mom. It has also increased my passion for being an active member of my community. It has given me an outlet to actively try to make things a little better for someone who is struggling or for a child who has experienced real hunger. “In this economy, it is more important than ever. Everyone needs help at one time or another. A bad economy can cause people to feel anxious, depressed and hopeless about a future; volunteering can bring hope to your life because you are actively working to make someone’s situation better.” Pope agrees that with “the economy being in the condition it is in, it has energized the volunteers. It is part of their nature.” e Food Bank of Northeast Georgia as well as many non-profi ts would disappear without volunteers. ose committed, optimistic and self-less individuals may not solve the problem of world peace, but they feed a child and provide hope. It doesn’t take lots of time – sending out emails, posting events on Facebook, addressing envelopes -just time well spent. SUPPORT THE FOOD BANK Volunteer. Immediate need for “Bread Run” driver. Available ursdays from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. Valid Georgia driver’s license. For this and all other volunteer opportunities, contact Jim Pope at volunteer@goodbanknega.org Monetary Donations. Monthly donations or one-time in honor or memory of friend or loved one. John Becker at 706.354.8191. Become a Corporate Sponsor. Advertise your partnership and work together to reduce hunger. Spring 2011 “I’m always amazed.” Dawn Aiello, Community Program Director, HandsOn Northeast Georgia. In Her Own Words Essential Trait: Passion. is may be a love of animals, or a desire to end poverty, or a general sense of wanting to help the community around them. Impact: Most volunteers have some level of genuineness in why they want to help others. I think it’s most refreshing when I hear volunteers who are currently out of work but want to use their newfound free time to be productive in some way until they fi nd employment again. It is so easy in today’s society to be selfi sh and lazy, but there are still citizens who want to leave an impact on their communities. Pay it Forward: We received an email from one volunteer who worked with a number of homeless shelters in the area and also attended an education event about homelessness presented by the Service Ambassadors at UGA. She learned so much through these experiences that she has now signed up to attend an Alternative Spring Break experience in Chicago to work with homelessness in another area of the country. Collective Eff orts: I am always amazed at what human compassion can do, but even more amazed at the amount of work that can be done when a large group of people focus on the same task at the same time. Recently, we had 48 volunteers plant 86 trees and mulch 56 trees in just 90 minutes. What if everyone took just 90 minutes out of each week -what could we do then? MLK Day 2011 (Pictured): Many of the projects that we do through Community Connection and HandsOn Northeast Georgia are national days of service that are recognized throughout the country so they have their own sense of momentum and energy. All other projects are initiated by our individual partner agencies (nonprofi t/ government organizations). Opportunities for YOU: We just launched our YOUthServe program (www.athensvolunteer.org) for the spring. Global Youth Service Day is April 16. All other projects and events are posted on www.handsonnortheastgeorgia.org or www.communityconnection211.org Photos provided by HandsOn Northeast Georgia. www.Georgia Connector.com 11

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