Youth in action: Jackie’s Volunteer Network

Jackie contacted Solid Ground about adding us to her great website, Jackie’s Volunteer Network, which connects high school students with volunteer opportunities in the Seattle/Tacoma area. We think it’s great and wanted to help get the word out!

Hello! My name is Jackie and I’m in ninth grade. I began creating this website (http://jackiesvolunteernetwork.com/) because I wanted to find volunteer opportunities but found that difficult since most volunteer opportunities are only for adults. As a result, I decided to create this website to help other teens find volunteer opportunities as well.

Visit http://jackiesvolunteernetwork.com/ for youth volunteer opportunities in Seattle/Tacoma!

Visit jackiesvolunteernetwork.com for youth volunteer opportunities in Seattle/Tacoma!

My parents kindly offered to pay for the website, and I have been building it ever since. My goal is to keep this project going and to always help teens find meaningful volunteer work. I have personally found that helping others find volunteer work is just as rewarding as volunteering myself.

Over time, I have also volunteered for a few of these organizations myself. These volunteer experiences have given me the goal to continue working with nonprofit organizations. For all the teens that use my website, I hope you find these opportunities exciting and meaningful. For all the organizations who have helped me build this site, I hope you find some wonderful volunteers!

If your organization has volunteer opportunities for youth, Jackie would love to hear from you! She can be contacted at jackiesvolunteernetwork@hotmail.com.

Adopt-a-Family needs your help

It’s Adopt-a-Family season here at Solid Ground! If you have already joined in the holiday cheer, thank you so much! Your bright spirit and unstoppable drive has made this program a cornerstone of the year-end holidays for many families in transition! If you have not yet adopted a family for the holidays, please do!

For 25 years, our holiday Adopt-a-Family program has been a vessel through which community members like you have donated time, energy and resources to serve our families who are working to overcome poverty, homelessness and the hard-hitting effects of the economy.

Your donation amount is entirely up to you and your family; we recommend donating $25 – $50 per family member. This year we have approximately 250 families that average four people per family. The families you will sponsor are participants in Solid Ground’s JourneyHome and Family Shelter programs – all are receiving financial counseling and case management to support them on their way to self-sufficiency.

VISA and MasterCard gift cards are perfect because they can be used anywhere like a regular credit card! They are sold at banks, grocery stores, and local drugstores. Gift cards to places like Target, Fred Meyer and other department stores of your choosing are great because they have a wide variety of products: toys, clothing, food and household items. Grocery store gift cards are also needed; the families find them very helpful in being able to afford items at the grocery store that they may not otherwise be able to afford on their limited incomes. You can give a combination of gift cards as well.

We would like to have all the gift cards dropped off by Thursday, December 8 so families have enough time to do their shopping before the holidays, but we will remain flexible until all families have been assisted. Along with the gift cards, we are asking sponsors to donate stocking stuffers or wrapping paper, ribbon and bows. This will allow you to put your own family’s personal touch into your gift card donation!

Last year, some sponsors assisted several families by giving gift cards and granted items from their wish list. If you are interested in that option, we can support you, your family, group or team in making that happen. **We do not have the capacity to organize and store thousands of items our families, which is one of the reasons why we cannot accept individual gifts for every family member.

If you are a super busy person, and cannot drop by the office, your online donation is welcomed!

For more information about Adopt-a-Family, contact Indiigo 206.694.6825 or indiigok@solid-ground.org.

Nurturing a philanthropic community

While the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is known worldwide for its philanthropic leadership, on the sleepy western edge of Ballard another institution has developed as a cutting-edge incubator for the next generation of philanthropists.

Adams Elementary, Ballard's philanthropic juggernaut

For the last five years, Adams Elementary School has been cultivating young leaders and empowering them to make a difference.  In connection with Solid Ground’s Penny Harvest program, Adams students have  raised many thousands of dollars for area nonprofits. In the process, they have created a community culture of engagement.

“The whole school really buys into it,” said parent volunteer Bobbi Windus, who has coached the Adams Penny Harvest effort all five years.

“The kids really look forward to it and I really love seeing the kids develop their leadership skills.” Windus said. “Now that we have done it for several years, younger kids are really looking forward to it. [I hear things like:] ‘Oh when I am in Fourth Grade, I’m going to be on the leadership team!’ A mom emailed me at the beginning of this year. Her younger daughter had just started kindergarten and she was thrilled to death when she got her penny collection bag because she had seen her older brother do it.”

Daniel, Riahna and Roscoe carry some of Adams' 2011 harvest

This year Adams students collected 22 sacks of change, totaling nearly 700 pounds of coins, and a few hundred dollars in paper money.

Erica Slotkin volunteered to deliver Adams’ 2011 harvest to the Penny Harvest office earlier this week. A parent at the school, with a son who is now on the Leadership Roundtable and a daughter whose kindergarten coin collection jar was overflowing, Slotkin also works for Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, an environmental agency that has received support from the Adams Penny Harvest.

“It’s been really rewarding for me as a mom and as a community member,” she said. Two years running, I’ve been able to take my son to the spring Penny Harvest Youth Summit as a younger kid not yet involved. He was able to watch and get to see what was going on at that level. To be able to share what I do as my work with him was also really neat.”

The Roundtable is each school’s leadership group. They promote the coin harvest, assess what issues students are concerned about, and make granting decisions with money allocated to them by Penny Harvest.

Riahna points to Caring Cards in the school cafeteria

Every student at Adams participates in identifying issues by writing or drawing on Caring Cards that the Roundtable groups by theme. The cards are displayed in the school cafeteria.

This democratic process gives them guidance in their research of area nonprofits. In 2010 Adams granted $1,000, which was distributed among Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, PAWS and New Beginnings shelter.

Roscoe, who is now serving his second year on the Roundtable,  was a strong advocate for Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. “I really like what Puget Soundkeeper is doing, because my family has a boat,” he said. “I hate it when we go through really polluted water.”

In addition to allocating grants, the Roundtable coordinates community service projects, such as a food drive to benefit the Ballard Food Bank, or a toy drive to benefit Treehouse.

Adams students also make an annual video project to promote the Penny Harvest.

Display boards at the school promote Penny Harvest

“You have to hit the ground running, because the Penny Harvest occurs early in the school year,” said Windus. “That first year I said, ‘Guys we have to do a kickoff assembly,’ but not a single one of the students was willing to talk at the assembly. So, we came up with the video idea.”

This year’s video features Abe the Penny looking for ways to be helpful around the school. Previous videos have spoofed Star Wars and taken other lighthearted approaches to promoting philanthropy.

“It’s really become a deep part of our culture,” Windus said.

Huge Success at 2011 Hempfest Voter Registration Drive!

Volunteer Juan Vega & the Washington Bus' Vote Bot registering voters

This past weekend, Solid Ground’s Statewide Poverty Action Network – in partnership with Seattle Hempfest – registered over 1,100 new voters! We made a significant impact in changing what voting power looks like in Washington State as part of our outreach and Vote for a Change Campaign, which focuses on voter registration, education and vote participation in low-income communities and communities of color.

An essential part of our outreach is to educate communities about the 2009 Voter Restoration Act, which Poverty Action was instrumental in passing. The Voter Restoration Act restores the right to vote for 400,000 previously incarcerated persons, who are also disproportionately people of color.

Before this law passed, previously incarcerated people were required to pay all legal financial obligations to restore their voting rights. This barrier particularly impacted people living on low incomes. Now, you can vote as soon as you are no longer under the Department of Correction’s supervision.

Of our 1,100 newly registered voters, at least 50% were previously incarcerated persons. This was a great accomplishment, and we will continue to do this imperative outreach so that people of color and people living on low incomes will no longer be marginalized from the political process.

A volunteer shared, “People who had been denied the right to vote, some for over 10 years, were so empowered and excited when they registered, I wanted to cry.”

Special thanks to Juan Vega, a Poverty Action Board member, whose life passion is to address race and class inequalities through empowering previously incarcerated persons. Juan was instrumental in organizing a beautiful weekend of sun, food, fun and anti-poverty movement building!

We had over 60 volunteers with us throughout the weekend, registering and engaging with people about how we can tackle the root causes of poverty with our voting power! Among our volunteers were Cheryl Cobbs Murphy, Executive Director of Solid Ground, members of Equal Rights Washington and Washington Bus, Poverty Action Board members and dedicated volunteers. Thanks to all of our amazing members and volunteers, we were able to increase the voting power of low-income communities and communities of color!

Penny Harvest teaches children the power of philanthropy

Anna Zuckerman in yellow got a doggy kiss from Miss Floppy as her fellow Penny Harvest panel members looked on. From left they are Leah Zuckerman, Selma Taber, Amy Ijeoma and Chloe Denelsbeck. Miss Floppy's owner and President of AARF (Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation) at far left is Heather Enajibi. Photo by Patrick Robinson, used by permission of the West Seattle Herald.

As I sat in Room 307 at Madison Middle School yesterday, I was reminded once again why I love my job.

The Penny Harvest youth philanthropy roundtable that aptly named themselves “How to be Awesome” were interviewing organizations that they were considering granting funds.

The questions they asked “were probing and pointed and the answers provided real insights into both the spectrum and depth of their need,” according to a write up about the group in the West Seattle Herald.

I found myself uplifted by the fact that I was sitting in a room with six young people in 5th through 8th grade, and they were having open and honest conversations with adults about real life issues that our communities face every day: child abuse, homophobia, suicide, homelessness, mental illness, animal abuse. Here’s the best part: Not only were they engaged in dialogue, but they were deciding what they can do about it…and adults were coming to young people for help to figure it out!

Real change happens when we engage all parts of our community in problem solving, and young people are critical partners in creating change. These students are doing just as they named themselves, teaching the world “how to be awesome.” Thank you Madison Middle school student leaders.

Editor’s note: If you are interested in supporting Penny Harvest, or want to learn more about the program, email Mike Beebe: mikebe@solid-ground.org.

Adopt-a-Family

kids & santa hats

Adopt-a-Family - helping create Happy Holidays for more than 25 years!

Solid Ground believes everyone deserves to have a Happy Holiday!

We know that you feel the same. Every year our Adopt-a-Family program relies on the generous support from wonderful people like you.

Now, you can lift the spirits of families and make the holidays special for those who need it most. You and your friends can work together to make a difference in the lives of people struggling to overcome homelessness, unemployment, and the hard-hitting effects of the continuing economic downturn by donating gift cards, and if you like, a small present, to our annual Adopt-a-Family program. Every single dollar helps families have a Happy Holiday. We appreciate all that you do. Thank you!

You can donate directly on our website or email Indiigo Klyne to get more information about getting involved.

This time of year is especially hard for parents who already have a difficult time providing for their children. They rarely get the opportunity to go shopping for gifts for their kids. This year parents will be able to give gifts that they have picked out specifically for their loved ones.

Many of the families we serve are homeless, moving in and out of shelters and other short-term housing. Having a lot of unnecessary material items makes moving very difficult. Traditional holiday gift giving programs, though very helpful, often end up giving families too much ‘stuff.’ Gift cards allow parents to buy what they need while keeping in mind their children’s likes and dislikes.

Making the holiday program centered on gift cards allows parents to take control of one aspect of their lives and creates the steps for them to be less dependent on others. Solid Ground has very successful case management programs. We work very closely with the families we serve to create lasting changes in their lives. To do this, we have to trust that parents will make the right choices for themselves and their children. Case managers sign up only those families that have the greatest need and the ones they are confident will make the most out of the Adopt-a-Family program.

The gift card approach allows an individual’s dollars to go farther. In previous years people have bought hundreds of dollars worth of gifts, thinking they had to buy everything on a family’s wish list. Now sponsors can donate small amounts and still make a big difference. Individual contributions can be combined to support a family.

Logistically it is much easier to give gift cards. Solid Ground doesn’t have storage space to collect and organize gifts for hundreds of families. Plus, not having to go shopping for items saves valuable time for our sponsors at an already very busy time of year.

Volunteers needed to harvest backyard fruit!

Lettuce Link’s Community Fruit Tree Harvest is gearing up for the 2010 season and we would love for you to harvest with us!

Volunteer holding a box of plumsFruit is a valuable community resource. In 2009, Community Fruit Tree Harvest volunteers harvested more than 19,600 pounds of apples, plums and pears from Seattle fruit trees and delivered it to people with limited access to organic produce (through food banks and meals programs). Harvesting this fruit depends on significant community support.

Community Fruit Tree Harvest volunteers…

  • “Scout” trees in your neighborhood to see if they are ripe before sending volunteers to harvest.
  • Harvest at scheduled work parties.
  • Be “on call” to harvest fruit in your neighborhood. (An email will go out to the volunteers in a particular neighborhood when a tree there is ripe. Available volunteers will make arrangements for picking.)
  • Provide garage storage for ladders, picking buckets and/or harvested fruit.
  • Deliver harvested fruit to food banks and meals programs.

If you would like to volunteer, please attend one of our volunteer orientations and fill out a volunteer application.

Tuesday, July 27, 6:30pm – 7:30pm, Ballard Library (5614 22nd Ave NW)

Wednesday, July 28, 6:30pm – 7:30pm, Wallingford, Solid Ground (1501 N 45th St)

Thursday, July 29, 6:30pm – 7:30pm, Northeast Library (6801 35th Ave NE)

Monday, August 2, 6:30pm – 7:30pm, Douglass-Truth Library (2300 E Yesler Way)

If you’re unable to attend an orientation, we’d still love to have your help! Contact Sadie at fruitharvest@solid-ground.org or 206.694.6751.

If you have fruit to donate, please contact Seattle Tilth’s Garden Hotline at 206.633.0224 or help@gardenhotline.org.

Volunteer picking Asian PearsOther fantastic Seattle Fruit Harvest programs:

City Fruit, Phinney / Greenwood

City Fruit, Crown Hill

City Fruit, SE Seattle

Community Harvest of SW Seattle, West Seattle

Colman Neighborhood

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