Tag Archives: volunteers

National Women Build Week

In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, construction crews of female volunteers will be pounding nails and raising walls at Habitat for Humanity construction sites across the country in recognition of National Women Build Week, April 30 through May 8.

To help volunteers get a jump-start on their building skills, Lowe’s, underwriter of Women Build and sponsor of National Women Build Week, is hosting a “how-to” clinic on Saturday, April 30 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at its Carefree store, 34700 N. Cave Creek Rd. Participants will learn how to correctly use power and hand tools, install a ceiling fan and dimmer switch, create a kitchen backsplash, install tile and complete a faux paint project. There is no cost to enroll and Lowe’s provides all supplies.

Registration is not required. Participants should wear comfortable clothing and come ready to learn.

Habitat for Humanity Desert Foothills is looking for local women to volunteer for a day at a Habitat construction site from 7 to 11 a.m. May 7. Construction or home improvement experience is not necessary. The team of female volunteers and Lowe’s Heroes will come together to paint the Steier home in North Phoenix. The Steiers are the 24th recipients of Habitat for Humanity Desert Foothills partner homes. Their house has been under construction since January and is anticipated to be move-in ready by June.

Volunteer space is limited. To sign up or to learn about other volunteer opportunities with Habitat for Humanity Desert Foothills, contact Colleen Pyra at 623-551-6000 or pyra@habitatdf.org.

National Women Build Week challenges women to devote at least one day to help eliminate poverty housing. The event, now in its fourth year, has drawn more than 20,000 female volunteers from all 50 states. This is the first Women Build event for Habitat for Humanity Desert Foothills.

Teen library volunteers

Volunteers at the annual Teen Book Sale at Ironwood Branch Library.

By Trish Dolasinski, Ed.D.

As a parent, are you and/or your teenager frustrated by economic trends and the minimal job opportunities for young people trying to learn skills and build a resume? A possible resolution to this dilemma is to pick up and complete a “Teen Volunteer Application,” available at any local Phoenix Public Library.

The Phoenix Library Teen Volunteer Program is free and is available to students ages 12 through 18 who can work for a minimum of two to four hours a week.  More than 300 teens throughout Phoenix participate in the program, but there is always room for more.

As volunteers at the library, teens have a chance to learn valuable, on-the-job skills, while building a resume and acquiring reference contacts. The experience also gives students a chance to meet other teens and have fun at periodic social events and recognition celebrations.

Tasks at each of the 16 branch libraries vary. However, student work includes sorting books, shelving returned books, preparing for library events, organizing materials and reading to younger children. Volunteers also may also assist patrons in locating various books and materials at the library.

To be a Teen Volunteer, students must participate in a two-hour Saturday orientation to learn their roles and responsibilities. They also receive training in customer service expectations, appropriate behavior and dress and attendance requirements. At the culmination of the training, teens and parents both sign an agreement to support and follow the rules as well as the policies and procedures learned and practiced during the training.

“We want our teens to have a successful and productive experience,” says Beth Van Kirk, Ironwood Branch librarian and Youth Program Coordinator. “We see how they take pride in the structure of the program.”

“We also try to connect teens on a variety of levels of involvement and see our library-teen team as a partnership,” says Alice Houlihan, Ironwood Branch manager. “They help us provided services to our communities, but they are also our customers and we value their input.”

The annual Teen Book Sale, facilitated by the Ironwood Branch Teen Volunteers..

Many teen volunteers participate in the Library Teen Council, originally formed to encourage teens’ love of reading. They also provide valuable service as advisors on teen materials and interests. This includes local author visits and arranging teen centers in each of the libraries, as well as activities during Teen Read Month, where students may win valuable prizes for reading featured books and writing reviews.

A poster enthusiastically advertises the Teen Book Sale.

The Teen Council also works with the adult volunteer group, Friends of the Library, in annual fund raising projects. This collaborative effort often includes online book sales, scanning and boxing materials and participating in the annual book sales held at the various branches. Books are donated to the libraries for the sale, with a portion of the funds given to the Teen Council, which makes decisions about which library programs they wish to support as a group.

“This past year, our Teen Council discussed their options and decided they wanted to buy craft materials to support the preschool and elementary summer reading program all on their own,” says Kathi Cork, Mesquite library assistant and adult teen facilitator of the summer program.

The Teen Volunteers  play a major role in the yearly Summer Reading Programs, motivating young children and parents with such slogans as “Smile, Encourage, Cheer—It Only Takes a S.E.C.” This builds an awareness of the importance of customer service and approachability, valuable skills for work and for life.

Teen guides for the summer program complete an additional application process, participating in a one-day training session if they are selected. Their love of reading is especially basic to this role, as they are role models in passing along the love-of-reading message to younger children who participate in the children’s Summer Reading Program. Along with supporting their main mission of cheering younger friends on toward their reading goals, teens are taught ethical behavior, how to work with a variety of clients and how to use their summer volunteer experience as a step toward future job opportunities.

“When a child learns to read for the love of the experience and that visiting the library is fun, both young children and teenagers alike develop lifetime habits of visiting the library,” says Carol Finch, Children and Teen Services Coordinator for the 16 Phoenix Public Libraries.

“We are very proud to have our teens at Mesquite and believe they are an important investment in our community and in our future,” adds Paula Fortier, East Region Manager. “We could not offer the summer opportunities that we have if it was not for these wonderful young people.”

“Volunteering at the library has been such an empowering experience and I really feel I am doing something worthwhile, says Dagny Barclay, 15. “I love interacting with the kids and seeing them reach their goals, while making new friends and having tons of fun.” Dagny has been a teen volunteer at the Mesquite Branch for three years.

“Sometimes teenagers are stereotyped as sullen or dramatic, but after volunteering for the Children’s Phoenix Library Summer program, I met many wonderful teens who enjoy playing games with the younger kids, reading stories to them and helping out around Mesquite (library),” says Carly Schmidt, 15, a four-year veteran volunteer.

Teen library volunteers gain valuable job experience.

“When Carly volunteers at Mesquite Library she is in her element,” says Cindy Schmidt, Carly’s mother. “The experience has given her a chance to spread her love for books while trying out the world of work. The staff and the program were flexible and very supportive.   She is now considering becoming a librarian as a career.”

Many students do return to paying, entry-level jobs with the library system, or go on to study library science or other related fields of interest such as education in their college course work.

From all angles, being a Teen Volunteer at a local public library provides meaningful work, as youth learn valuable interpersonal and job skills, while building strong character and responsible citizenship. For more information contact your local public library or visit phoenixpubliclibrary.org.

Trish Dolasinski, Ed.D. is former school principal and a Scottsdale-based writer, editor and writing group facilitator. Her website is trishdolasinskiwrites.com.

Know someone who deserves a Hon Kachina Award?

Nate Anderson of Ear Candy at last year's awards dinner.

Nominations are being accepted through April 1 for the 35th Annual Presentation of the Hon Kachina Volunteer Awards. The annual awards honor seven of the Valley’s finest volunteers who have dedicated their time to different causes.

Last year’s winners included Nate Anderson of Ear Candy, Donna Bartos of the Purple Ribbon Council, Fred Christensen of the Navajo Volunteer Literary Program at Navajo Elementary in Scottsdale, Charles Finch of Stepping Stones of Hope, Kim Mills of the AZ Compassion in Action (Phoenix Fire Department), Bill Smith of A Stepping Stone Foundation, and Michael Young of Swing Fore Kids Golf Classic, which supports Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Animal Assisted Therapy Program.

“People may be involved with social and human services, organizations, arts organizations, pets, or homelessness,” says Pam Betz, executive director of the event. “Truly, it runs the whole gamut of the nonprofit sector, excluding advocacy or political-based organizations.”

The celebration of volunteerism will take place on Saturday, Oct. 1 at Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa, in Scottsdale. Winners will receive a hand-carved Hon Kachina doll and a cash award for their nonprofit organization.

“The Hon Kachina doll is representative of the award and is the most powerful of the healing kachinas, according to the Hopi Indian culture,” says Betz.

To nominate someone you know, visit honkachina.org.