Spring 2020

Spring has sprung in Houston but these days things look a little different. During these uncertain times, you can be sure that Volunteer Houston will continue to connect volunteers and nonprofit agencies to deliver services to the most vulnerable and in need. We will continue to support Harris and surrounding counties and its residents so when we come out of this crisis, we are an even stronger community. Here are some of the ways we continue our mission and how you can help.

COVID-19 Response

As the world grapples with COVID-19 and we adjust to stay at home orders, Volunteer Houston has taken a key role in collaboration with Harris County and the City of Houston to support nonprofit organizations providing critical services to the Greater Houston community. This role has included everything from consolidating resources on the VH website to working with our nonprofit organizations to help ensure needs are met, providing them with tips and tricks for managing virtual volunteers.

To nonprofits, we can help. Membership fees for nonprofits new to VH are currently waived so we encourage you to register today and begin posting your volunteer needs. If you are already registered, please be sure to update your volunteer needs. If you need assistance in finding ways to leverage volunteers, please contact us.

To our volunteers and the general public, you can help. Register free with VH today to find ways to volunteer, virtually and in-person. Our agency partners need volunteers to make phone calls to their clients, deliver meals and more. Leverage your professional skills to supplement overburdened nonprofit staff meeting the needs of their clients during this crisis.

If you are not able to volunteer or have concerns being outside of your home, you can still help!  Donate to Volunteer Houston. Your donation will directly support VH’s mission to meet the volunteer needs of our nonprofit members on the front lines providing services to the most vulnerable residents of the Greater Houston area.

Welcome to Volunteer Houston, Brooke Parkinson!

Volunteer Houston is excited to welcome Brooke Parkinson, CNP, as the new Director of VH as of February 24, 2020. It has been an exciting beginning to 2020 for Volunteer Houston! Brooke assumes the responsibilities from our wonderful Volunteer Houston Director, Eleanor Gates, who has decided to step down as Director of Volunteer Houston and return to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to her family.

Brooke comes to Volunteer Houston most recently from Dallas where she spent six years with the Boy Scouts of America National Service Center in Corporate Engagement. She was an AmeriCorps NCCC member and has a long track record and passionate commitment to volunteerism and community service. Further, she is a Certified Nonprofit Professional, which is an educational credential for people who seek extra training and leadership development in the nonprofit sector. Brooke is a native Houstonian who has recently returned home to be closer to family.

YES! to Census Week!

April 1st marked Census Day officially kicking off the 2020 Census across the nation. A complete and accurate count is critical in ensuring Harris County receives funding for essential services and adequate representation in the legislature. Every person counts! During the next decade before the 2030 Census, our city and communities risk losing $15,000 per person not counted.

Volunteer Houston is collaborating with Houston in Action to ensure our typically undercounted populations have the opportunity to submit their census responses in 2020. We are focusing on seniors, refugees, LatinX, low-income households and even kids! Help us get the word out by participating in a VH phone bank from home. Follow Volunteer Houston to find out how and when you can help.

For more information about the upcoming census click here: Yes to Census!

10 minutes of your time will have a positive affect on Harris County for the next 10 years. Complete your Census today! mycensus2020.gov

Volunteer Corps

On January 23rd, Volunteer Houston graduated 32 of our most recent Volunteer Corps members after they completed the 6-month program. Congrats to all of our graduates! After a brief graduation ceremony, we held an interest meeting to recruit the next cohort of Volunteer Corps focused on educational outreach in the community. During the interest meeting, attendees heard from Victoria Lara, member of City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hispanic Advisory Board, about the importance of being engaging in the community through volunteerism based on her personal and professional experiences. Brooke Parkinson, Volunteer Houston, then spoke about the census and how volunteers can ensure the Greater Houston community understands the impact responses and non-responses will have on Harris County. Throughout the event, attendees were encouraged to meet others in the room and visit with the recent Volunteer Corps graduates.

We are pleased to announce that the Volunteer Corps winter/spring cohort welcomed 50 new members! For their first service project, members of the new cohort partnered with Food Not Bombs to serve either store-bought or homemade food to over 300 precariously housed individuals in downtown Houston in February.

Victoria Lara speaks to Volunteer Corps graduates.

As part of their first service project, Volunteer Corps members Wendy Adams and Ana Morao help serve food in downtown Houston.

Volunteer Corps members Carlos Rodriguez, Alicia McKenzie and Cyndy Medrano are ready to begin serving food!

Get involved with Volunteer Houston!

There is not a big enough stage for us to thank all the volunteers and nonprofits who contribute to the positive impact we all made on the Greater Houston area. Since the beginning of the year, VH has connected volunteers with over 2,800 opportunities with 260 nonprofits!

You can contribute to continuing our positive impact on the Greater Houston area! Visit www.volunteerhou.org to learn about opportunities to volunteer, both virtually and in-person. Don’t have time right now to volunteer? Volunteer Houston relies on the generosity of the community to develop programs to increase capacity for our nonprofits serving the community. You can make a personally meaningful donation anytime! Just click below to donate today!

Winter 2020

Winter brings lower temperatures, the end of hurricane season and the holidays. It also brings about many opportunities to volunteer and support Volunteer Houston’s (VH) many partner non-profits as they serve the Greater Houston community in a variety of ways. Thanks to our volunteers, Volunteer Houston has been doing just that! Read on to find out more…

Volunteer Houston 45th Anniversary Celebration

On November 13th at the Hilton Americas-Houston, over 270 people came together to celebrate the 45-year legacy of Volunteer Houston and the work we do in the Greater Houston community. We were honored to have Judge Lina Hidalgo and Mayor Sylvester Turner provide remarks before the featured speaker, Dr. Robert M. Gates, 22nd Secretary of Defense, spoke about the importance of service to one’s community and participated in a fireside chat. Emceed by ABC13’s Melanie Lawson, the event recognized several prior leaders and staff members with VH appreciation awards, emphasizing how volunteerism has continued to evolve and expand in Houston. The event was capped off with Neil Bush, Chair of the Board of Points of Light (of which VH is the Houston affiliate) awarding Regina Rogers a Daily Point of Light recognizing all of her efforts in hurricane recovery and consistent dedication to the Greater Houston and Beaumont communities. It was a wonderful evening celebrating the spirit of volunteerism.

Neil Bush, Points of Light Board Chair, presents Regina Rogers with her Daily Point of Light Award.

Volunteer Houston leaders past and present (from left): Eleanor Gates, current director; Carrie Moffett, director for 32 years; Karen Labat, representing Shell Oil Company; Charles Foster, IM Advisory Board Co-chair; Shaukat Zakaria, IM Board Chair; Mike Gaskin, former Exxon executive and member of original community group that spearheaded funding for Houston’s first Voluntary Action Center in 1974; Martin B. Cominsky, President and CEO of IM.

Eleanor Gates, Director of Volunteer Houston, moderates a fireside chat with former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.

Twitter Makes History in Houston!

Volunteer Houston and Twitter made history January 16th deploying over 4000 Tweeps (Twitter employees) to 44 project sites around Houston benefiting 51 nonprofits. What an amazing day with an impact that will be felt in our community and by the Tweeps for years to come! Contributing over 15,000 volunteer hours, the Tweeps participated in projects including: clean-up and planting at Emancipation Park; clean-up efforts in 3rd Ward around Shape Community Center; Houston Food Bank (where CEO Jack Dorsey and his parents even chipped in!); bowling with residents of Noah’s House; teaching seniors how to use tablets at BakerRipley; beautifying Hermann Park (where co-founder Biz Stone helped out); and mentoring students at YES Prep. Twitter’s philanthropic Twitter for Good’s commitment to the community was demonstrated through the engagement and excitement of every single Tweep that spent their day giving back – check out #TwitterforGood to see their photos and stories! Thank you to all the Tweeps and every nonprofit that partnered with VH to make the day a huge success!

At the Houston Food Bank: Neil Bush, Points of Light Board Chair; Princella Lauderdale, IM staff; Jack Dorsey, Twitter Co-Founder; Denise Avalos, IM staff; Martin B. Cominsky, President and CEO of IM; Juwan Underwood, VH volunteer.

Tweeps beautifying the courtyard and gazebo at Looscan Elementary School.

Thank you to all the families that joined us for Family Service Day 2019 at the YET Center!

Family Service Day 2019

Volunteering as a family is always a special opportunity to instill in the next generation the importance of giving back. Each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving we celebrate national Family Service Day collaborating with Houston-area non-profit partners to bring families together to beautify area parks and community centers. This year, Volunteer Houston partnered with Generation SERVE – Houston and Precinct 2 to plant 15 trees and 50+ plants (used as centerpieces for the VH 45th Anniversary Event!) at the Youth Education Center at Northeast Community Center. With ~20 families participating they made quick work of beautifying the park while making new friends and learning about how they can continue to volunteer as a family. Looking for ways to volunteer with your family? Be sure to check out www.volunteerhou.org and search for family friendly opportunities!

Say YES! To Census 2020 – You Can Help!

The census officially kicked off January 22nd with the first person counted in a remote village of Alaska! Volunteer Houston is collaborating with Houston in Action to ensure a complete count in Harris County, specifically focusing on typically undercounted populations including seniors, refugees, LatinX, low-income households and even kids! Join one of the upcoming Census Orientations and volunteer to help Volunteer Houston in our educational outreach.

For more information about the upcoming census and how you can help, click here: Census 2020. To register for a census orientation, please click below:

Get involved with Volunteer Houston!

Did you resolve to be more engaged in your community with the beginning of 2020? Be a volunteer! Visit www.volunteerhou.org to learn about opportunities near year. Don’t have time right now to volunteer? Volunteer Houston relies on the generosity of the community to develop programs to increase capacity for our non-profit partners serving the community. You can make a personally meaningful donation anytime! Just click below to donate today!

Summer 2019

It’s been an active summer keeping an eye on the tropics while working with our volunteers and nonprofit partners to serve the needs of the community. Read on to find out what we’ve been doing!

Please join us on November 13 for Volunteer Houston 45th Anniversary Celebration Dinner at the Hilton Americas- Houston.

Featuring remarks by Robert Gates, 22nd Secretary of Defense and emceed by ABC13’s Melanie Lawson, celebrating VH’s 45 years of service in Houston.

Please join us! Click here for tickets and info: VH 45th Anniversary

Volunteer Opportunities

Fall festival season has arrived and volunteers are needed! Click the links below for more information and sign-up today!

Bayou City Arts Festival October 12-13 More Info

Puerto Rican & Cuban Festival November 2

More Info

Click here to see even more opportunities!

Local street flooding in Montrose at the peak of the storm.

Tropical Storm Imelda

On September 19th, Southeast Texas was surprised by a tropical depression that became a named storm and then made landfall in Freeport in less than 90 minutes. Harris County and other counties to the north, east and south were significantly impacted by TS Imelda with Houston receiving over 9”, to over 40” in Winnie and Beaumont areas.

As the Volunteer Management recovery partner for Harris County, VH was prepped and ready to support our nonprofit partners in need of volunteers to assist residents directly impacted by flooding. If you or someone you know was impacted and needs assistance, please visit Ready Harris for resources. If you want to help others impacted, please visit Volunteer Houston’s website to find volunteer opportunities: Disaster Recovery volunteers.

Dow EMERGEs in Houston!

Dow’s annual Employee Resource Group Conference, EMERGE, brought together 400 employees from 30 countries in September, culminating with a day of service on September 13th. Volunteer Houston worked with Dow to customize 10 different projects across Houston benefiting our nonprofit partners including: Santa Maria Hostel, IM’s Refugee Services, Project C.U.R.E., 3rd Ward Proud Citizens, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Montrose Grace Place, Hope Farms, Operation Gratitude, Easter Seals and The Alliance. While the logistics of 8 locations was a challenge, the results were fun, meaningful and impactful as Dow employees showed how they are #PullingOurWeight, an initiative Dow launched globally earlier this year. Is your company looking for a way to give back locally? Click here to request more information: Corporate Volunteer Program.

Dow EMERGE attendees sorting and organizing medical supplies at Project C.U.R.E.

Eighty Dow EMERGE attendees clearing illegally dumped debris and cleaning up a local park with 3rd Ward Proud Citizens. One of the Dow attendees actually group up in 3rd Ward and played basketball on this basketball court as a kid!

Want to be a volunteer project leader for an upcoming CVP and learn how to develop and manage a service project? VH will host 4000 conference attendees for 4 hours across 40+ projects and we could use your help. Interest? Email us at info@volunteerhouston.org

Volunteer Corps Going Strong!

The Volunteer Corps has become one of our most popular programs! Graduating 32 Corps members in July, VH kicked off the next class in July spending the day at The Beacon serving food, prepping food for the next day and doing over 37 loads laundry for clients of the homeless day center. The group kept going strong in August, helping at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul distributing 15,444 pounds of fresh produce to 239 families and sorting and hanging 2,500+ pieces of clothing. Particularly impactful and relevant, the Corps spent a day with SBP (pictured on the right), helping to continue repair homes impacted by Harvey that, fortunately, were not impacted by Imelda. Want to be a part of the Corps? For more information: Volunteer Corps

Volunteer Corps members prepping food for the next day at The Beacon.

Starbucks Foundation Service Fellows

Please join us in welcoming our newest Starbucks Service Fellows! We are honored to be one of the 20 markets participating in this collaboration between Points of Light and Starbucks Foundation that places local baristas in POL affiliates to increase our capacity to support the Greater Houston community through volunteers! For the next 6 months Amanda and Amina will be working directly with Volunteer Houston; Justin will be working with IM’s Meals on Wheels Chore Corps and Emily will be supporting IM’s Refugee Services. Welcome!! Pictured above left to right: Justin Hampton, Amanda Good, Emily Westcott and Amina Windsor.

Get involved with Volunteer Houston!

You can help Volunteer Houston continue the types of programs discussed in this newsletter. Be a volunteer! Don’t have time right now to volunteer as the holidays approach? Volunteer Houston relies on the generosity of the community to develop programs to increase capacity for our non-profit partners serving the community. You can make a personally meaningful donation anytime! Just click below to donate today!

Spring 2019

We’ve been busy at Volunteer Houston finding new, meaningful and fun ways for our volunteers to transform our community through volunteerism and supporting our non-profit partners.

Read on to learn more about how you can get in on the fun!

Volunteer Corps getting excited for their first project with SBP USA repairing Harvey-damaged homes.

Introducing the Volunteer Corps!

We launched the VH Volunteer Corps in January with 50 members! The Volunteer Corps is a unique 6-month leadership development program providing 50 volunteers an opportunity to learn about community needs directly from the agencies providing services and then complete a project with that organization. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people from all over the Houston area! The Corps worked with SBP USA to begin rebuilding homes, canvassed homes for Baker Ripley to encourage voter registration, served up homemade meals with Food Not Bombs and even made breakfast for residents of Ronald McDonald House’s Holcombe House. A big shout out to Comerica for their recent grant to support the Volunteer Corps! Want to become part of this exciting program? Click here: VH Volunteer Corps

Volunteer Fair 2019

To celebrate National Volunteer Week in April, VH hosted Volunteer Fair 2019 in partnership with Houston Community ToolBank (HTB)! With over 30 partner organizations represented, over 160 of you came to learn how you can volunteer and a few of you even had a chance to get your face painted! It was a great day with a BBQ food truck, drawings and many great conversations between volunteers and organizations hoping to recruit them! We cannot wait to do it again in 2020!!

Martin B. Cominsky, President and CEO of IM; Eleanor Gates, Director of VH; Nancy Clippard, HTB Volunteer & Warehouse Coordinator; Mia White, HTB Communications & Development Director; Jacques D’Rovencourt, VH Advisory Council Chair & General Manager of the Hilton-Americas Houston hotel; Jodi Bernstein, VP IRCP.

Volunteers supporting Volunteer Fair 2019.

Be a Community Champion – Report Your Hours!

We want YOU to report your volunteer hours, so much so that we’ve launched 2 initiatives to encourage you to be sure you do so! With our Volunteer Appreciation Program the more hours you report, the more badges you can earn and join the running for volunteer of the quarter as our Community Champion. To celebrate our Community Champion, we’ll take you to lunch, you’ll get some cool VH swag and even a gift card. Other than treating you like the Community Champion you are, reporting volunteer hours is critical for our non-profit partners and local governments as grants and FEMA matching funds are based on YOUR volunteer hours! Click here to learn how to report your hours on the VH website: Logging Volunteer Hours

Agency in the Spotlight:

Czech Center Museum Houston

The Czech Center Museum Houston provides unique education experiences based on authentic objects, art, music, stories and lives of Czechs, Slovaks and people of all cultures who left their country to seek liberty and democracy in America. Located in the Museum District, the CCMH relies on volunteers to support their various programs and ensure visitors to the museum have a meaningful experience. VH celebrates CCMH as our Agency of the Quarter this past winter for their strong volunteer engagement, consistent volunteer hour reporting and development programs, offering volunteers the opportunity to expand their experiences beyond day-to-day volunteering. Intrigued? Check out volunteer opportunities at CCMH!

Volunteer Houston team members John, Gayla and Eleanor celebrate CCMH’s Agency of the Quarter award.

Corporate Volunteers Engage!

Sports medicine conference attendees repair playground equipment at a community park.

Houston-area employers are focusing on giving back to the community and encouraging their employees to do the same through corporate service projects. Studies even show that creating a culture of volunteerism in the workplace can boost employee morale and overall workplace atmosphere. VH can make it happen! We offer customized service projects for 10-100s of employees aligned to the causes any company supports. We’ve worked with Dow Chemical to build hygiene kits, assembled STEM kits with Medidata for local schools, refurbished a community park at Looscan Elementary with a visiting sports medicine conference, expanded community gardens in Sunnyside with EnCap Investments L.P. and more! Want your company to have a greater impact on your community – tell them to check out our Corporate Volunteer Program!

Dow Chemical team members assembling hygiene kits.

EnCap Investments L.P. employees getting into the weeds in Sunnyside.

Did you know…

The hourly value of a volunteer increased again! It’s now $25.43 according to the Independent Sector, which helps establish this rate each year.

You should be prepared for a disaster all year, not just during hurricane season. Click here for more info on how you can be prepared: Disaster Prep and Response

Volunteering can lead to job opportunities that you never would have heard about otherwise.

VH volunteers have responded to 8,964 non-profit needs since the beginning of the year!!

Upcoming Events – Mark Your Calendar!

Volunteer Training/Orientations:

    • July 27thGirls Empowerment Network is hosting volunteer training for those who are interested in volunteering in either weekly Girl Connect groups, or monthly workshops/assemblies in Houston. Visit their website for more info!
    • Project C.U.R.E. offers orientation every Wednesday at 12:30 pm and every third Saturday of the month at 12:30 pm. This includes a tour and a demonstration of how the sorting room and warehouse operate. Click here for more info: Project C.U.R.E. orientation

November 13thVolunteer Houston 45th Anniversary Event. For more information click here: VH 45th Anniversary

Would you like to support our work? Volunteer Houston relies on community support to carry out our work in transforming the Greater Houston community through volunteerism!

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