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Kirby: Taking time out of yourself

By Robert Kirby | Salt Lake Tribune Columnist
First Published Aug 10 2014 10:02 am • Last Updated Aug 11 2014 12:40 pm

I didn’t volunteer for the Army in 1972. They came and got me. I could have run away, but that would have required effort. Too lazy to join and too lazy to get out of it. It’s the story of my life.

In the Army I seemed to volunteer a lot. Somebody loud and scary would tell me that I had volunteered to stand guard, paint rocks, dig a hole, give blood or haul garbage. Being lazy wasn’t an option.

After that, I was even more cautious about volunteering. Whenever volunteers were called to perform some chore at work, church or home, I was reminded of the Army and the benefits of hiding or running away.

Not anymore. Today I live in the most volunteering state in America. For eight years in a row, Utah has led the nation in volunteerism. Last year, almost a million Utahns donated 165 million hours of their time, mostly in schools and youth programs.

I didn’t know this of course. Last month Rochelle Runge from the Utah Commission on Service & Volunteerism came and got me and made me know it.

Her: “You’re the perfect person to help us get the word out about volunteering.”

Me: “You got me mixed up with somebody else.”

Didn’t matter. Over lunch, Rochelle insisted that volunteering was not only good for other people, but also good for oneself and the greater community. Volunteers saved Utah $3 billion a year. She was very passionate about it.

Therein lies the secret behind successful volunteering — finding something that you’re passionate about and then throwing yourself into it.

For example, volunteering doesn’t have to be something idiotic like painting rocks or standing in the rain with an empty rifle. You can donate your time and efforts to things that actually make sense.

It might surprise you to learn just what that is. If you really want to stretch yourself and broaden your horizons, volunteer for something completely out of your element.

Come down out of your expensive digs and help feed and clothe the homeless. Leave your CEO desk for a few hours a week and teach immigrant children English. Give up a Saturday and groom hiking trails. Get off your lazy butt and pick up trash.

That last one was for me. After talking with Rochelle, I felt guilty. So I started my own personal volunteer program to see how I liked it. I started picking up litter on the street instead of just ignoring it.

I enjoy volunteering for my personal what-I’d-like-to-do-to-litterbugs program. “Cram It in Your Ash Can” could well take off nationally.

If you want to live outside yourself for awhile, try volunteering. There are hundreds of ways of doing it, and a couple of ways of finding out where they are.

Call 211 on your phone. Remember — 911 is for “help me!” 211 is for “how can I help?” The operators there will get you where you’re needed.

Or you can go to volunteers.utah.gov and explore the opportunities. The point is that there’s something you can do if you have the time and the heart. Others will appreciate your generosity.

Don’t make them come looking for you.

Read more from Robert Kirby here.

Youth Encouraged to Serve on Global Youth Service Day for Utah’s Year of Service

In conjunction with the “2014 Utah Year of Service” that was declared by Governor Gary R. Herbert in February, UServeUtah (the Utah Commission on Service & Volunteerism) is encouraging youth throughout the state to find a way to serve in their communities during Global Youth Service Day.

Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is an international campaign that celebrates the power of young people through service and volunteerism  April 11-13, 2014, and is observed in over 100 countries worldwide.  UServeUtah will serve as a 2014 Global Youth Service Day Lead Agency, partnering with organizations to engage youth in planning, promoting, and executing projects that address important needs in communities across Utah.  Projects will occur throughout the state April 10-25, 2014.  Youth volunteers must be ages 5 to 25 to meet Global Youth Service Day requirements.

Last year, approximately 1,400 youth served over 4,300 hours in meaningful projects addressing important needs in their communities. As a lead agency, UServeUtah has given out grants to the following organizations for 2014 GYSD projects:

•             Iron County Youth Volunteer Corps:  making a community garden for the Iron County food pantry.  This project will consist of making raised boxes filled with all sorts of vegetation to help provide a fresh, healthy diet for the 700 families that are helped monthly by the Care and Share.

•             Utahns Against Hunger:  Will include recruitment of youth and young adults to finish the development of the new acre of farmland so that it is ready for planting this spring.

•             Boys and Girls Club of Weber-Davis: Volunteers will work on several projects including installation of new backboards, hoops and nets on the basketball courts, a major clean-up for Odyssey Park and Public Park areas, and more.

•             Service to the World: Held at the BYU Wilkinson Student Center, Service to the World will be working with youth on projects that will ultimately be sent to children in Africa, South America, as well as local orphanages and homeless shelters. Projects include making coloring books, fleece scarves, blankets, book bags, and more.

Youth are encouraged to participate in one of these projects or develop something on their own.  To learn more, visit www.userve.utah.gov and www.gysd.org.

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Utah AmeriCorps Program Featured in National Publication

UServeUtah announced today that the Read.Graduate.Succeed (RGS) tutoring program  was featured as one of the nation’s most innovative AmeriCorps State programs in the 2014 edition of Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps State and Volunteer Generation Fund Programs in the United States.

The report, produced by America’s Service Commissions and Innovations in Civic Participation, spotlights programs across the nation that address a range of issues from early childhood literacy to public safety.

RGS is highlighted in the publication for childhood literacy and has received special designations for rural impact and Governor and Mayor Initiative collaboration. The publication focuses on ways the RGS program has demonstrated innovative efforts, including senior member training and support model, cross-sector community partnerships, and more.

In the first seven years of operation, RGS has served 37,418 students with 93% showing significant improved academic performance in reading and 75% reading at grade level by the end of the school year. During this same time the program has recruited over 35,000 volunteers who have served over 790,000 hours tutoring children in Utah schools.

“Through their successful partnerships, this AmeriCorps program is building a grassroots network of volunteers for the future and creating the infrastructure necessary to support and sustain long-term community transformation,” LaDawn Stoddard, UServeUtah Executive Director said.  “The impact this program has had on childhood literacy truly speaks for itself.”

The 2014 edition of Transforming Communities through Service commemorates the 20th Anniversary of AmeriCorps and state service commissions, the statewide governor-appointed agencies leading the nation’s service movement and AmeriCorps State programming. It also celebrates the 5th Anniversary of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which reauthorized the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its core programs including Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Volunteer Generation Fund, and the Social Innovation Fund.

The publication is available electronically by visiting http://issuu.com/rachelmanuelbruns/docs/final_transfoming_communities_throu    or   www.icicp.org.

# # #

Utah AmeriCorps Funding 2014-15

UServeUtah announced that nine organizations in Utah have been awarded a total of $1,383,252 in AmeriCorps grants to address some of the most pressing challenges facing Utah communities.  This funding will engage an additional 845 AmeriCorps members in service in Utah.

These grants make a focused investment in priority areas laid out in the bipartisan Serve America Act as well as high priority areas for the State of Utah: education, economic opportunity, healthy futures, and veterans/military families. These grants help to carry out the vision of the Commission’s 2013-2015 Strategic State Plan, targeting resources on a core set of critical problems and focusing on greater impact through use of standardized performance measures to evaluate success.

“AmeriCorps provides a cost-effective approach to tackling many of the most important challenges our communities face,” UServeUtah Executive Director LaDawn Stoddard said. “These programs are designed to help people succeed—those receiving the direct service from AmeriCorps members as well as the members providing the service.”

Below are the organizations receiving funds in the 2014-2015 program year:

Name Focus Area Amount
Mentoring for Success Education $324,250
Utah Campus Compact Education $118,912
Boys and Girls Club of Utah County Education $131,001
Four Corners School of Education Education $50,000
The AmeriCorps Alleviating Homelessness Program Economic Opportunity $194,993
AmeriCorps and the Medically Underserved Healthy Futures $278,142
Playworks Utah Healthy Futures $133,000
Brigham Young University Social Work Program Healthy Futures $20,236
American Red Cross Military Mentor Veterans/Military Families $132,778

AmeriCorps is a national service program that engages Americans of all ages and backgrounds in intensive, results-driven service to meet critical community needs. AmeriCorps works through existing organizations and helps them reach more people and better achieve their mission. In 2013 Utah AmeriCorps members mobilized more than 45,000 volunteers who provided over 266,000 hours of service with an estimated economic value of $6.02 million dollars.

# # #

 

Stories of Service from Commissioners and Past Executive Directors

- Our past and current commissioners - 

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Utah Commission on Service & Volunteerism Governor Gary Herbert signed a declaration making 2014 a year of service in Utah. The declaration recognizes that community engagement improves the quality of life of residents and that volunteerism contributes significantly to our state’s economic growth and prosperity.

Without the hard work and dedication behind the scenes, of our Commissioners and Executive Directors, UServeUtah could not have accomplished so many wonderful things and impacted the community and Utah citizens in such a powerful way.

In celebration of our 20th Anniversary we reached out to the people who have made us what we are today, past Executive Directors and Commissioners, and asked them to them to share their stories of service.

Erica DahlErica Dahl, UCOV Commissioner, 2009-Present

What is your favorite memory from the time you have spent with the Commission?

Being asked by Governor Huntsman to serve and seeing his strong commitment to volunteer service carried on by his predecessor and Lt Governors Bell & Cox.

Why do you believe in the mission of the Commission? Why is what we do important to the state of Utah? 

Volunteering really does make a difference to our community and it brings the best people together to serve a greater good.

What volunteer activities are you currently involved with? Why do you serve your community? 

 I love service and I really do receive more from it than I could ever give.  I am on the board of The Road Home and the Junior League of Salt Lake.

Dwight RasmussenDwight Rasmussen, Commission Chair, 1998-2006 & 2010-Present

Please tell us about the accomplishment(s) you are most proud of achieving during your tenure with the Commission. 

During my 3 separate appointments on the Utah commission, I am most proud of maintaining a presence and focus of older adults as a resource of potential volunteers.  Even though the federal regulations governing Commission membership required a representative of that demographic, it has been important that it be more than just a commission member.  I believe this presence has inspired collaborative working relationships between AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs.

What is your favorite memory from the time you have spent with the Commission?

Seeing the Commission evolve from the beginning from a group of individual commission members that were primarily just a body that was reported to on the activities undertaken by Commission staff, to a working body of involved and interested individuals in advancing service in our communities and state wide.

Why do you believe in the mission of the Commission? Why is what we do important to the state of Utah?

In my extended career in managing national service grants, I have had an opportunity to view firsthand the great work that these programs accomplish in communities here in Utah and across the Nation.  All of the programs, Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Vista have helped communities solve problems at the local level and have helped countless individuals faced with some of the most difficult challenges.  I have always believed that federal, state and local governments have a strategic role in mobilizing individuals into service.  Once an individual has served in a National Service program, the likelihood of them continuing to serve and volunteer throughout their life in some capacity increases dramatically.  Communities across the nation are always in need, Government does not have the financial resources to serve everyone’s needs, but national service is the catalyst by which a relatively small investment in financial resources yields huge returns in service, thus making communities a better place to live and individual lives are enhanced and changed for the better.

What volunteer activities are you currently involved with? Why do you serve your community?

At this point in my life, I am not engaged in an organized volunteer program.  Full time work keeps me very busy.  However I am always engaged in helping my neighbors, other family members and in my church.  I think every person should give willingly to lend a hand to those who are a little less fortunate.  I never think twice about helping a friend in need.

Kathy Smith presenting awards with David Eisner at the 2007 Utah Conference on Service

Kathy Smith presenting awards with David Eisner at the 2007 Utah Conference on Service

Kathy Smith, Utah Commission on Volunteers Executive Director, July 2005-July 2008

Please tell us about the accomplishments you are most proud of achieving during your tenure with the Commission.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism! I have many wonderful memories of my seven years at the Utah Commission on Volunteers. I started in June of 2001 as a Utah’s Promise program manager creating communities of promise.  Governor Olene S. Walker’s literacy program was an important priority. In 2002, the Utah Commission on Volunteers Executive Director Scott Snow and I added a focus on citizen involvement in emergency preparedness and in March of 2003, we co-founded the Utah Citizen Corps Council with the Utah Department of Public Safety. In July of 2005, I became Executive Director found myself, just six weeks later, helping to coordinate volunteer and donations management for the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts at Camp Williams.
In April of 2006, the Utah Commission on Volunteers launched the Be Ready Utah campaign with the enthusiastic support of then Lt. Governor Gary Herbert. If I had to pick one accomplishment, this is the one I am most proud of. Every time I see the red button logo of the Be Ready Utah campaign, I remember the little band of volunteers returning from a Citizen Corps Conference in Montana, sitting in an airport and sharing big ideas for a Utah Citizen Corps program that eventually led to Be Ready Utah.

What is your favorite memory from the time you spent with the Commission?

Our outstanding AmeriCorps members deserve a special mention especially those who served with us at the Commission on Volunteers in 2007-2008.  the Utah Commission on Volunteers had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to recruit and manage volunteers for the Utah State Capitol Rededication and Open House event in February of 2008. It was an enormous commitment to the Capitol Preservation Board. The AmeriCorps members managed several hundred volunteers during an eight-day period with great success!

Why do you believe in the mission of the Commission? Why is what we do important to the state of Utah?

Utah consistently ranks #1 in the nation because our heritage is built on a strong work ethic and a spirit of self reliance.  Utahns are quick to help whenever and wherever they can – in our schools, churches, hospitals, and neighborhoods, volunteering as everything from teachers’ aides to docents at the zoo. Service and volunteerism areempowering, both for the volunteers and for the communities we love. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work for and direct the Utah Commission on Volunteers if I hadn’t first immersed myself in its volunteer programs.

What volunteer activities are you currently involved with? Why do you serve your community?

I chair the Constitution Day Committee of Utah which hosts an annual event for the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. Our mission is to unite our community in a celebration of and appreciation for the Constitution of the United States; to inspire Constitution Study Groups and further action on the part of adults and youth. I also volunteer regularly with church youth activities and occasionally in our community gardens because I want to behave as though I’m here to stay.

Please share anything else you would like about your service with the Commission.

The best thing I learned from my tenure at the Utah Commission on Volunteers was how to develop partnerships to accomplish a common goal. Recognizing that people and organizations have much to offer and inviting them to be active participants is what makes communities strong.
I loved working with LaDawn Stoddard and have great respect and admiration for her many abilities and skills. She is a very capable Executive Director with a passion for AmeriCorps and volunteerism.
I extend my sincere best wishes to all of you, LaDawn, Commissioners, and the team at the commission as you celebrate 20 years of association with the Corporation for National and Community Service!


Scott Snow, Utah Commission on Volunteers Executive Director, 2002-2004

Please tell us about the accomplishments you are most proud of achieving during your tenure with the Commission.

Utah’s Promise being awarded the Utah Philanthropy Day award for nonprofit/community program of of the year in 2003 or so.

Team AmeriCorps Serving Utah during the Winter Olympics of 2002 which brought 200 members of AmeriCorps*State, AmeriCorps*VISTA & Americorps*NCCC all together to serve in SLC at shelters, food kitchens, etc. it was the first project that had all three branches working together. It also created a new logo which was adapted into the new, current AmeriCorps logo.

Expanding Governor’s Points of Light Awards, started by Michael Call.

Planning & Hosting the national Conference on Community Service & Volunteerism which featured First Lady Laura Bush as keynote speaker in June 2002.

Helping start & create the Governor’s Commission on Literacy and ‘Read With A Child 20 minutes everyday’ campaign under Governor Olene S. Walker’s leadership in 2004.

The strong partnership with Utah’s Volunteer Centers that I helped solidify because of my time as a VC director and Chair of the state association before my role as ED of the Commission.

What is your favorite memory from the time you spent with the Commission?

Hearing Olene S. Walker as Lt. Governor/Chair of the Commission sharing her vision and inspiration! She is the best boss I’ve ever had!

What volunteer activities are you currently involved with? Why do you serve your community?

I am active in local politics and consider myself ‘civically engaged’ in my community with city council, county commission, etc. I also am a PTA volunteer in my kids’ elementary school classrooms and assist with literacy efforts as a United Way of Utah County ‘Everyday Learners.’

Past and Current Commissioners

  • Jim Backman, 2000-2002
  • Pat Bair, 2009-2010
  • Katy Ballenger, 1998-2001
  • Mary Bangerter, 1999-2000 & 2002- 2003
  • Judy Barnett, 2010-2012
  • Scott Bean, 1998
  • Lt. Governor Greg Bell, 2009-2013
  • Nancy Bentley, 1998-2001
  • Phil Bernal, 1998-1999
  • Wilber Berrett, 1998-1999
  • Patricia Bradley, 2000-2001
  • Chris Bray, 2012-2014
  • Harry Brown, 2000-2001
  • Wally Brown, 2004-2010
  • David Buhler, 2013-2014
  • Gary Carlson, 1998
  • Ivan Cendese, 2006-2007
  • Beth Cottam, 2002-2006
  • Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, 2013-2014
  • Rick Crawford, 1998-2007
  • Bill Crim, 2011-2014
  • John Curtis, 2011-2014
  • Erica Dahl, 2009-2014
  • Stephanie Davis, 2010-2011
  • Allie Dixon-Schroeder, 2012-2014
  • Linda Dunn, 2004-2007
  • Myla Dutton, 1999-2001 & 2003-2007
  • Larry Ellertson, 2002-2010
  • Jose Enriquez, 2011-2014
  • Kristin Fink, 2001
  • Julie Fisher, 2012-2014
  • CeCe Foxley, 1998-2004
  • Arthur Frank, 2006
  • Laurence Furr II, 2002-2006
  • Robert Garff, 2002-2005
  • Brian Garrett,2007-2012
  • George Garwood, 2004-2010
  • Elaine Gause, 2004-2009
  • Lori Giovannoni, 2011-2013
  • Don Gomes, 2009
  • Alan Griffin, 2006-2009
  • Ferris Groll, 1998-1999 & 2001
  • Jeanne Hall, 2009-2014
  • Marty Hamilton, 2009
  • Kris Hamlet, 2013-2014
  • Patti Harrington, 2005-2006 & 2009
  • Diane Hartz-Warsoff, 2006-2007
  • Lt. Governor Gary Herbert, 2005-2009
  • Jennifer Hogge, 22008-2014
  • Bob Hood, 1998
  • Mareid Horton, 1998-1999
  • Ron Humphries 2011-2014
  • Carol Hunter, 2004-2006 & 2011-2013
  • Libby Hunter, 2000-2004
  • Leann Jackson, 1998
  • Holly Isaman, 2002-2006
  • Mike Jensen, 1998
  • Christine Kearl, 2006-2007
  • Ann Kagie, 1998
  • Richard Kendell, 2002 & 2004-2007
  • Michael  Kuehn, 2006-2007
  • Steve Laing, 2000-2001 & 2004
  • Frances  Larsen, 2000 & 2002-2004
  • Verne Larsen, 2004-2006
  • Julie LeRoy, 1998-2000-2001
  • Michael Lester, 2003-2007
  • Diane Lewis, 2013-2014
  • David Litvack, 1998-2001
  • Karen Mayne, 2010
  • Gayle McKeachnie, 2004
  • Martel Menlove, 2013-2014
  • Marko Mijic, 2006-2009
  • Gail Miller, 2011-2014
  • Melissa Miller-Kincart, 2009 & 2013-2014
  • Edie Mitko, 2002
  • Earl Morris, 2001-2002
  • Carol Morrow, 2006-2009
  • Joyce Muhlestein, 2000-2004
  • Jacob Murakami, 2007-2014
  • Carolyn Nebeker, 2002
  • JoAnn Neilson, 2004-2007
  • Gail Norris, 1998-1999
  • Anne O’Brien, 2010-2014
  • Sue Okroy, 2009-2012
  • Elaine Pace, 2009-2010
  • Joan Palmer, 2000-2004
  • Harley Paulson, 1998-2000
  • Josh Pedersen, 2006-2010
  • Lloyd Pendleton, 2007-2010
  • Bob Rampton, 1999-1998
  • Dwight Rasmussen, 1998-2006 & 2010-2014
  • Dolores Riley, 2006-2007
  • Dee Rowland, 1998-1999
  • Vernon Rowley, 1999-2001
  • Bill Sederburg, 2009-2012
  • Wayne Shamo, 1998
  • Larry Shumway, 2009-2012
  • Shirlee Silversmith, 2005-2010
  • Stephanie Simmons, 2012
  • Katherine Smith, 2007-2010
  • Gwen Sprigmeyer, 2008-2011
  • Keith Squires, 2007-2012
  • Donald Staheli, 2000-2002 & 2004-2007
  • Charlotte Starks, 1998-1999
  • Jill Stevens, 2006-2007
  • McKenna Strong, 2010-2012
  • Colleen  Taylor, 2000-2002
  • Gary Tom, 2002-2006
  • Peter Van-Hook, 2004
  • Eve Verde, 1998-1999
  • Leslie Wagstaff, 2010-2012
  • Gordon Walker, 2004-2005
  • Lt. Governor Olene Walker, 1998-2003
  • Vaughn Walsh, 1998
  • Betsy Ward, 2008-2012
  • Marshall Welch, 2003-2004
  • Darrell White 2004-2006
  • Verdi White, 2002-2006

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