Volunteering Continues to Creep Skyward in the United States

Volunteering up again, slightly, in 2009.

This week the Corporation for National and Community Service announced that a new Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that 1.5 million more people in the U.S. volunteered in 2009 than in 2008.

The number of people volunteering through organizations rose from 61.8 million to 63.4 million between September 2008 and 2009.

The survey — conducted with the help of the Corporation — asked 60,000 households about their volunteerism habits through a supplement to the September 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS). The Corporation will use this week’s BLS findings to produce the annual Volunteering in America report. (See my write up about the 2009 report from this past July).

Between September 2007 and September 2008, the number of volunteers increased by one million. In the fall of 2008 the U.S. economy started its dramatic nosedive which definitely increased the need for volunteers at social service organizations throughout the country.

Interestingly, though, it doesn’t look as though unemployed people are the ones who swelled the ranks of volunteers. Continue reading

The Long Road to Recovery – and How You Can Help

From Flickr user simminch via Creative Commons

Originally posted on Idealist.org‘s homepage blog.

When a major disaster happens in the world, it’s common, and frankly humanity-affirming, for global citizens to want to help. However, when the disaster in question is as devastating as last week’s earthquake in Haiti, it is often the case that the primary way folks are encouraged to get involved is to raise funds, raise voices, and raise awareness. And while fundraising, advocacy, and public awareness are critically important activities to participate in, they can sometimes be frustrating substitutes for those who are seeking to lend a hand in a more direct and tangible way by volunteering.

Yet for those seeking to contribute their skills, time, and energy on the ground in a disaster response situation, the advice Continue reading

Skip the Gym Membership and Get Fit for Free

Who has a couple of New Years’ resolutions in mind for 2010?

I know I do.

In the spirit of healthiness, many Americans want to become more health conscious.  And health conscious resolutions usually involve a gym membership, diet, and “dream weight” on the scale.

However, as many of us start this New Year, we will have a tighter clutch on our wallets.  Save money by bypassing the gym membership and creating your own exercise at home or searching for free and low-cost fitness classes in your neighborhood. Break a sweat without breaking your bank and save money for better food shopping and your savings.

Gym Math:

Membership Fee: approx. $75

+ Monthly Fee: approx. $30

= Roughly $435 Per Year.

I am not bashing gyms.  I have a gym membership and regularly attend my gym but also replicate similar workouts in my Continue reading

Vote for Idealist — and Help this Blog Continue

Dear readers,

This week Action Without Borders/Idealist.org (my organization) is competing in the Chase Community Giving Contest on Facebook.

Through this contest, any Facebook user can vote for an organization to win a million dollars — organizations that end up in the top six earn $100,000.

Idealist has made it to the second round, and only 100 finalists are left.

This would be huge for us, and so I am asking you to use one of your five votes on us.

If you are on Facebook, it only takes a minute. Please click on this link for some more details, and then you can vote from there:


Atlas Corps, an international service corps, is also in the top 100 and could use another of your five votes!


Amy and our entire Idealist.org staff!!

Points of Light’s Michelle Nunn: MLK Day, Haiti Relief Efforts, and Getting Hands On in Your Community

Today’s guest on The New Service podcast is Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Points of Light Institute and Co-Founder of the HandsOn Network.

Points of Light Institute inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. In 2007, the Points of Light Institute grew out of the merger between the Points of Light Foundation and the Hands On Network, creating the largest volunteer management and civic engagement organization in the nation. HandsOn Network includes more than 250 HandsOn Action Centers around the United States and ten other countries.

Idealist’s Amy Potthast chats with Michelle Nunn the Friday before MLK Day about the first-ever national MLK Day Virtual Town Hall Meeting, how people throughout the United States can take action in their own communities through Hands On Action Centers, how people can respond to the Haiti earthquake of January 12th, and the upcoming National Conference on Volunteering and Service to take place in New York this summer.

Direct download: Points_of_Lights_Michelle_Nunn.mp3

MLK Day Virtual Town Hall

All day today the Hands On Network is organizing town halls in major cities around the country, and you can connect online, upload photos of your service project today, chat with leaders who are participating, and share your story.

Tomorrow I hope to post a podcast show from this past Friday where I interviewed Points of Light Institute CEO Michelle Nunn (co-founder of the Hands On Network, now part of POL). But for now, here is Michelle Nunn’s announcement about today’s Virtual Town Hall:

On Monday, Jan. 18, Points of Light Institute and HandsOn Network will bring the nation together in service, dialogue and reflection during a MLK Day Virtual Town Hall as we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Congressman John Lewis has eloquently captured the meaning of our goal – bringing families and communities together with one vision in mind: “actualizing King’s dream of a beloved community, a nation and a world at peace with itself.”

Join us on Jan. 18 in a MLK Day Virtual Town Hall – an online, interactive dialogue that bridges social, economic and cultural diversity by exploring innovative ideas for how service and dialogue can bring us closer to Dr. King’s dream. During the town hall, citizens from across the nation will be able to have live chats, post pictures and videos and share their experiences about how the volunteer movement has impacted them and their communities.

The call, “A Day On, Not A Day Off. Remember. Celebrate. Act.” will be simulcast from seven major markets across the U.S. (Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York, Phoenix, Sacramento and St. Louis).  An exciting announcement – to be disclosed Monday – will be revealed during our Chicago simulcast.

Key leaders participating in the MLK Day Virtual Town Hall and service projects and dialogues across the country include MLK Jr. Day of Service Ambassador and Rep. John Lewis, Congresswoman Doris Matsui from California, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Birmingham acting Mayor Roderick Royal, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service Nicola Goren, York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser and many more.

Many of the hundreds of thousands of people who will volunteer on Monday will add to their engagement by making contributions to the relief efforts in Haiti. Derreck Kayongo, Senior Field Coordinator for the CARE Action Network will join our Town Hall on Monday to talk about what we can do as a nation to help Haitians rebuild and recover.

The MLK Day Virtual Town Hall will begin at approximately 8:00 a.m. EST and will feature HandsOn Network Action Centers and nonprofit organizations’ service events and dialogues nationwide. Tune in all day for exciting highlights and to join the dialogues.  All times are eastern standard.
  • 8:00 a.m. Welcome Remarks by Congressman John Lewis and Michelle Nunn
  • 8:30 a.m. Hands On Atlanta, Annual King Summit Freedom Rally
  • 10:00 a.m. Greater DC Cares, Powell Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
  • 11:00 a.m. Youth HandsOn Network, PS 57 James W. Johnson School in Harlem
  • 12:00 p.m. Hands On Sacramento at Quinn Cottages
  • 1:00 p.m.  HandsOn Greater Phoenix at South Mountain Park
  • 2:00 p.m.  Special Live Announcement
  • 3:00 p.m. United Way of Greater St. Louis at St. John United Church
  • 4:00 p.m. Closing and Call to Service in 2010
There are multiple ways people can serve, celebrate and engage in the various projects across the U.S. To find out more information and how you can volunteer, please visit www.HandsOnNetwork.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @HandsOnNetwork.

Join the dialogue on Monday at www.handsonnetwork.org to partner with us as we advance Dr. King’s dream of a beloved community in a new and innovative way!

My MLK Service Project: Disaster Preparedness on my Street

I really wanted to do something for MLK Day that ties to the earthquake in Haiti — it’s just where my heart is right now.

So my family and I have decided to share disaster and earthquake preparedness information with our neighbors here in Portland, Oregon (an earthquake-vulnerable region), as our service project for today. I thought I’d also share the information with you and with my social network.

If you like this idea, I highly encourage you to download the documents linked below and consider sharing them with your family and friends, sharing this blog post on your Facebook profile and other social networks, and spreading the word about disaster preparation.

Howdy Neighbors, and Happy MLK Day 2010!

This past week my family and I have been gripped by the news coming out of Haiti.

In addition to finding ways to help out in the aftermath of that disaster, we’re taking time this weekend to pull out our own disaster supplies kit and update anything in it that needs refreshing (bottled water, packaged food, batteries), and make sure the kit’s complete.

In honor of today’s national day of service, we wanted to pass along the checklists enclosed [and linked below] from the American Red Cross so your family can refer to them easily to update, or put together, your own kits.

Also you can learn more at www.redcross.org and at www.cruzrojaamericana.org.


Amy and family