Community Renewal

National Park Service's 'Warm Up to Giving' Food Drive in Gettysburg, Pa., a Success

During July 2009 Gettysburg National Military Park and the Eisenhower National Historic Site and their partners participated in a "Warm Up to Giving" food drive. The food drive benefited the Gettysburg Food Bank, which is operated by the nonprofit South Central Community Action Programs Inc.

Employees from the National Park Service, the Gettysburg Foundation, Aramark, Event Network, as well as Gettysburg's Licensed Battlefield Guides, generously donated 13 boxes of much-needed food and other household necessities.

- Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Penn.

Bureau of Land Management in Anchorage, Alaska, Serving Meals to Homeless for More Than 15 Years

Five to seven volunteers from the BLM State Office in Anchorage, Alaska, go every third Wednesday of the month to serve the lunch meal at Beans Café, next to the Brother Francis Homeless Shelter. We have been doing this for more than 15 years. Our Campbell Tract location in southeast Anchorage also has been sending volunteers on a different day each month for about the same time.

- Lee Koss, BLM, Anchorage, Alaska

Interior Bureaus in Tucson, Ariz., Team Up to Donate 678 Pounds of Food to Local Food Bank

Saguaro National Park's SEA (Saguaro Employee's Association) and EEO Committee coordinated Department of Interior units in Tucson, Ariz. including FWS, USGS and the BLM, to participate in a local Feds Feed Families Food Drive to coincide with the National Capital Area Feds Feed Families initiative that ran from August 10 through August 27. The drive contributed 678 pounds of food and $235 to the Tucson Community Food Bank on August 28.

The donation was made in memory of Linda DeVon, she was the park's IT specialist and SEA chair. In her usual looking-out-for-others' fashion, it was Linda who suggested we make the food drive a Tucson DOI agencies' effort rather than a Saguaro National Park effort, so that more families could be assisted with our efforts. Sadly, Linda passed away very unexpectedly on August 17.

- Wendy Parris, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Ariz.

National Business Center Employee in Washington, D.C., Boxes Food Donations at Salvation Army

I gladly and respectfully volunteered at the Salvation Army on Monday, May 25, 2009. I had the opportunity to meet some very special people that were there volunteering also. We spent about six hours sorting and boxing all sorts of non-perishable food. I felt a great joy that day. Read More Even though I worked harder there than I did at my actual job, because it was rather physical work then mental work, I still enjoyed the day. It was a great opportunity to share my volunteerism with the community and to help out people that are not as fortunate as me and my family. I have since then begun looking for other opportunities to share my spare time and to help out and volunteer again.

- Geraldine Herrera, Purchasing Agent, National Business Center, Washington, D.C.

National Park Service Architect Cooks, Serves Meals at Shelter in Pennsylvania

Every month my church cooks and serves meals for about 100 individuals in need. With second servings that is about 200 meals. I help cook several times a year and help serve several times a year. The shelter where we serve meals was built by Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and the meals are provided by local churches and synagogues. I also donate to pay for the food we prepare.

- Todd Hart, Historic Architect, Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Penn.

Supervisory Park Ranger in Arkansas Helps International Nonprofit's Efforts to End Hunger, Poverty

This summer I have been volunteering on Sunday afternoons at Heifer Village in Little Rock, Ark. This is a new educational facility on the Heifer International campus. This building has interactive exhibits that share information about the work Heifer International is doing to help families in more than 50 countries around the world. Heifer International is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization that works to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Visitors to Heifer Village learn ways that they can help and make a difference. Heifer focuses its work on sustainable, practical and cost-effective solutions to end hunger and poverty. I hope to return again next summer to help as a volunteer with Heifer International.

- Lisa Garvin, supervisory park ranger, Hot Springs National Park, NPS, Hot Springs, Ark.

USGS Hydrologist in San Diego, Calif., Volunteers With Urban Ministries to Help Those in Financial Crisis

Because I work the 5-4/9 compressed-work schedule , I am off every other Wednesday. Those afternoons I volunteer as a caseworker at Presbyterian Urban Ministries in downtown San Diego. Presbyterian Urban Ministries offers a variety of services to people who find themselves in financial crises. Yesterday, one man came in who had taken a bus across the country to accept a job offer in an art store, only to find that the store was going out of business when he arrived. That client received a grocery bag of food and a hygiene kit (toiletry items) to help him get back on his feet. I worked with another client, an elderly woman, to send off an application and a check ($14) to Florida for her birth certificate, so that she could apply for various forms of public aid. Other typical services offered by Presbyterian Urban Ministries include free clothing (donated items); prescriptions (through an agreement with a local pharmacy); and the provision of tools for people starting new jobs that require such equipment. The monetary value of the services rarely exceeds $20 per client, but the staff and volunteers take pride in treating the clients in a way that encourages them in their difficult situation. I often feel like the value of the human interaction, treating them with the respect that all of us deserve, is far more valuable than the financial cost of the services.

- Robert Kent, Hydrologist, USGS, California Water Science Center, San Diego, Calif.

AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer's Work Aids Impoverished, Leads to Job With National Park Service in Nicodemus, Kansas

I am writing this in response to the Secretary's Priority Memorandum – United We Serve. Volunteer service is what helped me accomplish my goal of becoming an employee of the National Park Service. As an member of AmeriCorps VISTA, a national service program that fights poverty, I served three consecutive terms of volunteer service. I then continued contributing to the same service project for two more years under a management contract between the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma and Texas. The five years of experience I gained as a volunteer enhanced the skills I am now using as the administrative technician at Nicodemus National Historic Site. As a matter of fact, my VISTA experience was one of the things Superintendent Mark Weaver focused on during my job interview for this position. You see … Superintendent Weaver is also very service minded. So much so, he has been exploring the possibilities of starting an AmeriCorps VISTA program with the community of Nicodemus, Kansas, and I believe we can do it.

Early this spring I volunteered to assist an archeological team in conducting a followup excavation of a dugout once belonging to the Williams' family, one of the first families to settle in Nicodemus . The lead archeologists were from Howard University in Washington D.C., and Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. About 20 students participated in the dig as well, and all of them were from urban areas. It was great fun interviewing them to find out what they liked the most about the experience. Almost every one of them loved the rural setting and wanted to return and finish what they started. AmeriCorp VISTA could be a great vehicle to enhance our volunteer program by providing national recruits to develop an archeological-education program and other volunteer opportunities to protect and restore public lands and to engage young people in the outdoors. The opportunity is there, and the possibilities are endless.

Thank you very much for this opportunity to express my dedication to volunteerism in America. I hope you will support us in our efforts.

- Annette M. Thille-White, administrative technician, Nicodemus National Historic Site, Nicodemus, Kansas

Telecommunications Specialist With National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho Volunteers for Special Olympics, Neighborhood Housing Services and 'Paint the Town'

The Boise area offers many great volunteer activities, and I have participated in a couple that I would like to highlight:

Special Olympics--First was the World Games for the Special Olympics that Idaho hosted in February of this year. Athletes from all over the United States and the rest of the world participated in this event. During the Special Olympics, I had an opportunity to interact with the athletes, coaches, and other support staff, as well as some of the parents. The highlight of the games for many of the athletes was exchanging pins with other athletes. Having acquired some National Interagency Fire Center pins and Smokey Bear pins for the event, I had such a good time giving those pins out to the athletes. I also enjoyed meeting the athletes during their lunch and break times. It was truly one of the most rewarding things that I have ever been a part of. It has inspired me to now become active in the Special Olympics for Idaho. I feel that these types of events give you a different perspective on what is really important in our lives. I would suggest that if anybody has the opportunity to participate in the Special Olympics in their area that they give it a try.

"Paint the Town"--The other event I and some of my NIFC coworkers have participated in during the last couple of years is "Paint the Town," a Neighborhood Housing Services' event in Boise. Neighborhood Housing Services assigns teams houses, according to the number of people they have on their team. The people that qualify to have "Paint the Town" volunteers paint their homes are low income, elderly or disabled. I coordinate the team, meet with homeowner to see what prework we need to do and pick up the paint and tools. Then on paint day, the whole team shows up, and we paint a house. It's a lot of work and coordination. However, the appreciation the homeowners show when we are finished is beyond comparison. It really is worth the effort, and I will continue to coordinate this effort in the future. I hope the NIFC team will just continue to grow so someday we may be able to take on more than one house.

- Shannon J. Tippett, Telecommunications Specialist, NIFC, Boise, Idaho

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Purchasing Agent in Corvallis, Ore., Spends 'Free Time' Focusing on Youth

I believe volunteerism is one of the most important things we can do to help support our communities and build a stronger America. In my work time I am a computer assistant/purchasing agent for the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

I spend a lot of my "free time" in volunteer activities year round. I think government employees should be good examples in this area. I am board president of the Alpine Community Center in my community, and we provide a lot of activities for all ages of people in our rural area. Read More We have co-op preschool, classes, cultural events and exercise classes. This summer we helped organize a community garden and did our annual bike-ride fundraiser. I am also the main adult mentor for our teen program, Teens In Action. Through this program, the teens have learned leadership skills and even helped facilitate community forums around various topics. We also provide fun drug-, alcohol-, and tobacco-free activities for teens, and have plans to hold our final dance of the summer on August 22.

I am also on the board of South Benton Community Enhancement, a community organization that helps support various programs, mostly for kids. These include a new library-building project, as well as summer programs like "Art in the Park," "Read on Wheels" and "Building Kids."

Then in my other spare time, I volunteer most Saturdays at Royal Basketball Academy in Eugene, Ore., where my youngest son has attended for four years. I help with registration and computer needs for a wonderful family that provides fantastic basketball and life lessons to more than 300 kids throughout the day, every Saturday.

My youngest son has learned a lot from his own volunteer opportunities and is flourishing. I think this is the best way to start the next generation.

- Joyce E. Long, Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Corvallis, Ore.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Wildlife Biologist Volunteers to Conduct Trains, Clean Trails, Care for Prehistoric Sites in Desert; Teaches Grandchildren to Recycle

I am a wildlife biologist for Bureau of Reclamation in Boulder City, Nev. My title is environmental-protection specialist. But this summer I have performed many different jobs as a volunteer:

I have cleaned a section of the River Mountains Loop Trail at least once a week, this is a 32-mile trail around the scenic mountain range in the Mojave Desert. This trail is used by hikers, mountain bikers and some horseback riders.

I volunteer as a site steward for two prehistoric sites in the Mojave Desert. At work I collect all the recyclable aluminum, plastic bottles, and glass and deliver all of the items to the Boulder City Recycling center.

My wife, a retired librarian, is volunteering three days a week at the Boulder City Public Library, updating the book collection.

I also volunteer as a rear brakeman and conductor on the Southern Nevada Railway in Boulder City.

It has been a busy summer, but the best part was the taking my grandchildren on the train ride and teaching them about recycling!

- Gerald Hickman, Director of Endangered Species Programs for the Lower Colorado River, Boulder City, Nev.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Education Coordinator in Alaska Volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters Program, American Red Cross, Youth Habitat Restoration Corps

I am involved in a number of volunteer opportunities in my community:

Big Brothers Big Sisters program — I first became aware of this excellent program when our office began contributing fishing activities for the annual BBBS picnic. In December, 2007, I became a school mentor for a fourth-grade student at a local school. Read More My office allowed me to participate in this mentoring program as part of my work. In March of the following year, I moved up to a community match with this girl. We spend anywhere from three to 24 hours per week together, depending on what we're doing. Our time together includes camping, hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, cooking, gardening, and art and stained-glass projects. My "little sister" and I have also banded birds, collected fish, and participated in a program to monitor tree-swallow nest boxes together. My office has granted me administrative leave to participate in some of these work-related projects with my little sister, which increases the time that we're able to spend together. It is so rewarding to be able to share my passion for the outdoors with a young woman who might not have these opportunities on her own.

Alaska Bird Observatory — I spend approximately 80 hours annually working with this organization. I am on the board of directors, along with serving on a fundraising and education committee. I also helped to develop a bird club to provide opportunities for youth to get involved with bird-conservation and research projects. In addition, I volunteer approximately 40 hours per year, helping with the bird-banding operation at the observatory's migration-research station.

American Red Cross — I have been a Red Cross first-aid instructor since 1986. I teach approximately three eight-hour classes per year. I also help the Red Cross with its fund-raising efforts and help to staff first-aid stations at community events.

Through my work, I have also been able to develop a number of opportunities to help get youth outdoors and restore public lands.

Youth Habitat Restoration Corps — This past summer, I developed a Youth Habitat Conservation Corps program that employed five high-school-age students. These students helped to eradicate invasive plants, built trails into public green space and restored stream banks. They also worked on projects to restore a gravel pit into wildlife habitat, including collecting non-game fish, removing invasive plants and planting native plants. All of them came away with a better knowledge of local resource issues and a stronger sense of stewardship toward their public lands.

Outdoor Days — As part of this annual three-day event, more than 40 scientists and community members volunteer their time to develop and present hands-on science activities for students in an outdoor setting. Almost 700 sixth-grade students get to spend some quality time outdoors annually, learning more about their natural resources. In addition, many resource professionals have the opportunity to share their messages with area youth.

- Laurel Devaney, Education Coordinator, Fairbanks Field Office, Alaska

Minerals Management Service Employee in Washington, D.C., Credits Serve.Gov With Connecting Him to Local Volunteer Opportunities

I played on the Buffaloes softball – but I wanted to tell you that has been great! It got me connected with the Adams Morgan Festival for which I am now a volunteer coordinator. It also has gotten me involved in emergency management for the city of Alexandria. It's a great Web site and is very easy to use and navigate. Thanks so much!

- Lesley Haenny, Office of Congressional Affairs, Office of the Director, MMS, Washington, D.C.

National Park Service Employee in Astoria, Ore., Volunteers for 4-H Club, Bible School, Wildlife-Rehabilitation Center, Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America

I volunteer year round in several activities: I lead a 4-H club that meets weekly; I volunteer twice each month at an assisted living home by bringing my dog to demonstrate obedience training. Each summer, I teach vacation Bible school and volunteer at the Child Evangelism Fellowship booth at the county fair. Read More Occasionally, I volunteer at a wildlife-rehabilitation center. The previous two summers, I occasionally volunteered with a community summer-lunch program for children. I volunteered last summer for a day helping to build a community dog park. I also serve on the boards of the state chapter of the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America and on the County 4-H Leaders Association. This weekend, I plan to volunteer, with my 4-H club, to demonstrate and instruct dog agility at a local campground's new dog park.

- Sally Freeman, Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, Astoria, Ore.

Bureau of Reclamation Employees in Salt Lake City, Utah, Organize Feed-the-Homeless Volunteers, C.A.S.T. Events, Blood Drives

Employees from the Upper Colorado Regional Office participate in the following volunteer activities: Jeff Painter organizes monthly "feed the homeless" volunteers for a local shelter. Valerie Harrison organizes C.A.S.T. events where volunteers take disabled children fishing. Emily Manseau organizes quarterly blood drives for regional office employees.

- David P. Trueman , Upper Colorado Regional Office, Reclamation, Salt Lake, City, Utah

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