Vol 'n' tell

The Official Blog of Volunteer Richmond Information Services
  • Non-Profit Video Picks: January 2015

    We're starting off the new year with a big Non-Profit Video Picks comeback! How will you give back this year? Maybe these stories of extraordinary volunteerism curated by blogger Ray Wang will give you some ideas!


    CNN Hero Narayanan Krishnan


    After witnessing an old man eating his own waste out of hunger, Narayanan Krishnan quit his job as a chef at a star hotel and went from feeding wealthy guests to feeding those in need. In 2002, Narayanan began cooking food for the homeless, the mentally ill, and elderly people who have been forgotten by society. Narayanan also helps those in need with bathing and grooming. Most importantly, he gives them hope to live.



    The Beauty and Challenges of Bhutan



    Bhutan for Life is an initiative launched by the World Wildlife Fund and the Bhutanese government to ensure the sacred and extraordinary environmental legacy of Bhutan is protected during infrastructure development. The initiative will focus on balancing social and economic growth with spirituality and respect for the environment, so that the Bhutanese people can benefit from modernization while remaining focused on sustainability.



    Facing Up to HIV



    After learning at the young age of 19 that she was born HIV positive, Phindile Sithole-Spong decided to help others who are also diagnosed with this disease. Phindile now offers lifestyle coaching, sexual health education, and other workshop, talks, and consulting services to HIV patients through the Rebranding HIV initiative, the goal of which is to “build the bridge to understanding” and to humanize the disease.





    According to Forbes, only 24% of U.S. IT professionals are female. This alarming low number of females in the IT industry limits the potential growth of the technology industry. According to Intel vice president Bernadette Andrietti, “Women offer a fresh perspective on pro


    According to com/sites/leoking/2014/03/08/women-in-technology-a-brightening-outlook/" data-mce-href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/leoking/2014/03/08/women-in-technology-a-brightening-outlook/" style="color: #1b8be0; font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: 1.7;">Forbes, only 24% of U.S. IT professionals are female. This alarming low number of females in the IT industry limits the potential growth of the technology industry. According to Intel vice president Bernadette Andrietti, “Women offer a fresh perspective on product design, ways of working, risk-taking and many other aspects of business.”


    To inspire more females to enter the technology industry, established female engineers such as Kelly Ellis, Software Engineer at Google, and Shannon Spanhake, Deputy Innovation Officer for the City of San Francisco, share their motivation for entering the technology industry. They also share their thoughts on possible social solutions and products that can be developed if women are encouraged to pursue careers in technology.

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  • What Are Friends For?

    Equally important as fundraising is its lesser-known cousin - friend-raising. Which is what, exactly? Well, it's the process by which non-profit organizations, like Volunteer Richmond, build relationships with our supporters, so they feel a stronger connection to our work and mission. Friend-raising is particularly important to the Christmas Fund: we don't just have donors and volunteers, we have friends who share a passion for the cause. We're lucky, because that passion keeps them coming back year after year. And you know what's awesome? Every year, the Christmas Fund makes new friends. Take, for example, Richmond Tile Centre, who gave back to the program in a big way in 2014. Here's volunteer writer Amanda Oye with their story. 

    Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes the only way to get by is with a little help from your friends. Luckily in Richmond the pool of friends who care enough to lend a helping hand to make sure that everyone enjoys the holiday season – regardless of whether or not they can afford a fancy turkey dinner – extends to complete strangers. It is in this spirit of helping out those who need it most that Richmond Tile Centre spent this winter raising money for the Richmond Christmas Fund.


    “The community has been very good to us,” says Rob, owner of Richmond Tile Centre. “We’ve been here for 25 years, so we wanted to give something back [and] we wanted our customers to get involved in the process.”


    Through the store’s Helping Hands Campaign, which raises money for local organizations twice a year, Richmond Tile Centre was able to contribute $1,100 to the Christmas Fund.

    Richmond Tile Centre customers responded overwhelmingly to the company’s Helping Hands Campaign with a $600 contribution towards the Richmond Christmas Fund. The company contributed another $500, and the total $1,100 went towards sponsoring three local, low-income families as well as a donation of toys and books. Pictured here from left to right are Tile Centre Manager Chris Rogers, Christmas Fund Chair Wayne Duzita, Tile Centre Campaigns and Marketing Coordinator Rob Rose, and Tile Centre Owner Mike Scardina.
     
    The Christmas Fund was chosen as a beneficiary because “it helps families get through when it should be about giving and celebrating the year,” Rob says. “You’re so busy at Christmas that you forget that there’s a whole bunch of families that aren’t going to have Christmas. Some people can’t even afford Christmas dinner or groceries at that time because they’re trying to get a gift for their kids.”

    This is a cause that clearly resonates not just with Richmond Tile Centre management and staff, but with their customers as well. “I was worried because at this time of year there are so many charities and people just get bombarded. You go anywhere and people are asking for donations and I think people just get kind of donationed out,” says Chris, Richmond Tile Centre store manager.

    This is not the reaction they received in the store as they asked people if they would like to donate. In a short amount of time they managed to raise $600 from customers in store, while the company contributed another $500 to the grand total. This was better than they had anticipated, according to Chris.

    As the campaign wrapped up, instead of simply presenting the Christmas Fund with a cheque, Richmond Tile Centre staff took the time to go buy books and toys to donate, on top of sponsoring three families. “We wanted a bit more of a direct connection,” Chris says. “This is one way that we felt that we could directly connect.”

    The Tile Centre enjoyed the experience so much that they hope to make the Christmas Fund an annual beneficiary of their Helping Hands Campaign. The Christmas Fund will appreciate that, no doubt. It's always nice to make a new friend. 


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  • Welcoming Winter - A Block Party at Springs

    Brad Forlow and Darren Lof know how to throw a party! We were delighted when they approached us with their Neighbourhood Small Grants idea. Here's Brad himself with a recap on his neighbourhood block party. Neighbourhood Small Grants in Richmond is made possible by Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, a collaboration between Volunteer Richmond Information Services and the Richmond Community Foundation.



    We often hear from those in the neighbourhood that they no longer know their neighbors. We desired to create an event that would foster a sense of community and that would provide a fun atmosphere to meet and talk with neighbours.


    Welcoming Winter was a community dinner and block party designed to bring people of all ages together from the Springs Neighbourhood. The event was held at the Manoah Steves Elementary School gym on Friday, November 28, 2014 from 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm. The winter-themed decor and the Christmas music created a festive environment. 


    Massive Wall-E and Nemo bounce houses were the focal point of the block party for the children. Children were lined up for these all night. Many kids must have been worn out by the end of the night! Tables with coloring sheets kept many younger kids occupied. Children of all ages left with beautifully painted faces.


    The hot hearty vegetable soup (with salad and bread), coffee, and hot chocolate were greatly enjoyed on a very cold night. The popcorn machine and snow cone machine were also a hit for kids and adults of all ages.

    The event was very well attended. We estimate approximately 250 people attended. We received many compliments and positive feedback for hosting a well-organized community building event.

    The Welcoming Winter dinner and block party was promoted in the neighbourhood by delivering invite cards door to door to ensure people of all ages were invited. The event was also advertised to the students at Steves Elementary School by an electronic distribution of the flier. The event was further promoted on the Springs Neighbourhood Facebook page and shared on the Steves Elementary School PAC Facebook page.


    We are extremely grateful to the Vancouver Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grants Program for providing the opportunity for us to host a community-building event in our neighborhood. We displayed fliers acknowledging the Vancouver Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grants Program throughout the gym.

    The grant covered the expenses for the decor, food, and the facility. St. John’s Richmond graciously donated all of the bread for the dinner. River Community Church (Steveston) donated the bounce houses, popcorn machine, popcorn, snow cone machine, snow cone syrup, and the materials for the fliers and invitation cards.

    We are also extremely grateful to all the volunteers who helped distribute invitations, cook and serve the food, run the popcorn and snow cone machines, staff the bounce houses, and set up and take down everything involved in executing the event. The event would not have been a success without all those willing to give of their time to serve their neighbours.


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  • Child Care Provider Profile: Mustard Seed Children's Daycare

    One of the newer childcare providers in the area, Mustard Seed Children's Daycare works to provide a stimulating environment for children to play and learn. In this edition of the Child Care Provider Series, Felix Li discusses the challenges of providing quality childcare at affordable rates and building a new business to meet the needs of one's community.

     
     
    Where little seeds grow into tall trees!

    What made you want to become a child care provider?


    We became a child care provider because we saw the need in the community, especially in the coming future. It is important to be involved in one's society and we want to provide the best service for parents in taking care of their loved ones. 



    What’s your favourite part of operating a child care facility and your least favourite?


    My personal favourite part of operating a child care facility must be to see the children growing up healthy and happy. The children give me the most joy over anything. My least favourite part is seeing them leave. Usually we will not see them again, and that is heart-breaking. 



    How do you promote your business?


    I believe there is always room for improvement. Our Centre is new and there is always more to learn in running a business. However, we are young, eager, and full of ambition. We have worked to have a good relationship with our staff and with our parents. We want to work to make this centre more suitable for different families.



    What does professionalism mean to you?


    In a child care facility, a child’s safety and health are the most important. Our teachers are professionals. They can take care of a child’s daily needs, including the physical or psychological. We believe we are responsible for the children’s growth and that this is our mission in life - that is what professionalism means to me.



    What challenges do you face as a child care provider? How do you overcome them?


    The difficulties usually come from finance. We do not want to charge parents more than they can afford, but at the same time we need to balance out our expenses and salaries. We hope to provide parents the best child care services at the most affordable cost.



    A fun and colourful learning environment!
      

    What do you find parents are looking for most in a child care provider?


    I find that this can vary. Some parents look for academic growth in a child learning in terms of mathematics and languages, etc. Some parents focus on the centre’s cleanness, space, safety, and outdoor environment. Other parents consider more about the teachers’ quality and enthusiasm towards taking care of their children. 



    What’s your favourite activity to do with children?


    My personal favourite activity is circle time where I can sing songs, read stories, and play mini games with them. I love being surrounded by children and catching all their attention. It is just wonderful.



    Do you keep in contact with other child care providers? Would you say there is a cohesive child care community in Richmond?


    I do keep in contact with some other child care providers as well as teachers in other facilities. I think we can learn from each other and improve and I believe all facilities can work together to provide services for the community in Richmond.



    Are there any services not available in Richmond that you think child care providers and/or parents would benefit from?


    No, I think that we have the services we need right now.



    Do you have any advice for people new to the child care field?


    For teachers, they should try to work in different facilities to see the difference and learn from each one.
    For parents, take more time to pay visits to different daycares to find the most suitable one for your child.
     


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  • Sensory Workshop With Educators

    After hosting An Evening of Sensory Play, Alexis Alblas and Stefanie Tong decided to extend their childcare knowledge to other child caregivers by inviting Early Childhood Educators to participate in a Sensory Workshop With Educators. This October 28, 2014 event was the second installment of their Neighbourhood Small Grants project. Here's Stefanie's recap of the event. Neighbourhood Small Grants in Richmond is made possible by Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, a collaboration between Volunteer Richmond Information Services and the Richmond Community Foundation.


    Stefanie Tong and Alexis Alblas


    This past Tuesday evening, Alexis and I were joined by Early Childhood Educators and students as we explored sensory materials together. I think we’ve started a tradition of playful selfies at our workshops. The feature image was taken after our workshop with us hiding behind a mountain of shaving cream we created. If you haven’t used shaving cream purely for the sensory experience of massaging it through your hands, I highly recommend it.


    The evening began with a sit down seminar/discussion period where we brainstormed types of sensory play, barriers of offering sensory play in the classroom and solutions to those hindrances. There were so many good ideas about recycling materials, which dollar stores carried certain materials, wholesalers and offering a variety of activities for children.


    We had the educators pair up with someone from a different centre prior to entering the play space. Educators were encouraged to play like children would, their partner would be documenting how they played, what they said and the types of materials they chose to use, fifteen minutes later, they would switch roles.


    The group of ladies and one gent played a lot more carefully than the children did with the same materials offered two weeks ago. “Do we play in one area? Can we move around the room?” Immediately, the adults were asking permission to play a certain way. We watched as the pairs:


    – explored potion mixing with shampoos and conditioners
    – created shaving cream patterns
    – poked playdough
    – manipulated light and reflections
    – ran fingers through salt
    – massaged water beads
    – smeared cornstarch finger paint
    – poured sand
    – danced with fabric
    – cut, smell and create flower arrangements


    While everyone in the room was busy documenting their partner, I took down a few notes of my own. Besides noticing how neat everyone was playing, I captured a little dialogue:


    “What is this?”
    “Can I use this?”
    “Sorry, this is so wasteful.” (While squirting shaving cream)
    “Which one is open, I don’t want to open a new one.”
    “Do play here?”

    As adults, I think we often play by the rules. Rules which we have somehow created along the way, rules that our children do not have, which allow them to explore freely without inhibitions. May we all find our inner child today and explore everyday materials with new found curiosity. Thank you so much to Vancouver Foundation, Volunteer Richmond, Richmond Community Foundation and Ulferts Kids for helping to make this workshop happen, and for allowing us to play! For more pictures from this workshop, please visit our Facebook Page.



    Originally posted on ece mom



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  • An Evening of Sensory Play

    We've been so excited by all the Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) Projects that have been happening in Richmond. The one put on by Stefanie Tong and Alexis Alblas however, might be the messiest project to date in the history of NSG! Here's Stefanie herself to tell you about an evening of sensory play that happened last October 21, 2014. Neighbourhood Small Grants in Richmond is made possible by Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, a collaboration between Volunteer Richmond Information Services and the Richmond Community Foundation.


    Alexis and I had the pleasure of teaching our first Sensory Workshop, made possible through the Neighbourhood Small Grants program from Vancouver Foundation, Volunteer Richmond, and Richmond Community Foundation. We were so happy to be joined by 13 families who participated in play experiences, and were fascinated to witness children immerse themselves in the sensory materials – literally!



    My phone rang at about 2:30p that afternoon, Alexis on the other end double checking all the materials we needed to gather for the evening. “I’ve got my trolly loaded up” she told me. I was in the midst of making four batches of cornstarch paint and knew that we had an evening of fun ahead of us. “We get to play in an hour” I said. During set up, that’s exactly what we did! The photo above is us manipulating our reflections, and I of course, had to stop to document the moment. Over dinner we finalized notes for the workshop and prayed that everyone coming would have a good time. We also asked God for some superpowers to help us deliver this information that had been in our hearts for the past few months.

    Our workshop began by asking parents of their first play memory. It was fascinating to hear that many had a sensory component to them and that ALL of the play memories were open ended, child led, play. We brainstormed on what the hindrances are to offering sensory play at home and collectively found solutions while sharing stories of our children. With child development being our passion, Alexis and I were thankful for the opportunity to share how sensory play can help children in their cognitive, social, language and physical development.



    Before we knew it, it was time to invite the children into the room to explore all the materials with their parents. I wish I had the time to document what was happening in the room! With 16 children ages one through eleven, we had a busy room filled with many play experiences.

    We watched children and adults:
    – manipulate light
    – explore reflections
    – poke, prick, squish, slam, toss and roll playdough
    – delicately cradle the water beads and a moment later, squish and bounce them
    – mix, pour, measure, squeeze shampoo and conditioner to create potions
    – use their hands to create paintings
    – swirl, swoosh, hold, squirt, and mix shaving cream
    – pour, scoop, and scrape sand
    – trace, scoop, and pinch salt
    – grab, mix, pick and scoop bark mulch
    – lick, bite, and smell at our tasting station (a.k.a. snacks)

    I have so many favourite moments from this evening, but the ones that stood out were hearing the children say “this is so much fun” and “look! look at me!” to their parents and being able to see parents play along side their children. And what excited me most, was that no one was worried about making a mess! More photos of our evening can be found on our Facebook page. We are less that two weeks away from presenting the Educator version of this workshop. Looking forward to seeing more messes remnants of play.Alexis and I had the pleasure of teaching our first Sensory Workshop, made possible through the Neighbourhood Small Grants program from Vancouver Foundation, Volunteer Richmond and Richmond Community Foundation. We were so happy to be joined by 13 families who participated in play experiences, and were fascinated to witness children immerse themselves in the sensory materials – literally!

    My phone rang at about 2:30p that afternoon, Alexis on the other end double checking all the materials we needed to gather for the evening. “I’ve got my trolly loaded up” she told me. I was in the midst of making four batches of cornstarch paint and knew that we had an evening of fun ahead of us. “We get to play in an hour” I said. During set up, that’s exactly what we did! The photo above is us manipulating our reflections, and I of course, had to stop to document the moment. Over dinner we finalized notes for the workshop and prayed that everyone coming would have a good time. We also asked God for some superpowers to help us deliver this information that had been in our hearts for the past few months.

    Our workshop began by asking parents of their first play memory. It was fascinating to hear that many had a sensory component to them and that ALL of the play memories were open ended, child led, play. We brainstormed on what the hindrances are to offering sensory play at home and collectively found solutions while sharing stories of our children. With child development being our passion, Alexis and I were thankful for the opportunity to share how sensory play can help children in their cognitive, social, language and physical development.

    Before we knew it, it was time to invite the children into the room to explore all the materials with their parents. I wish I had the time to document what was happening in the room! With 16 children ages one through eleven, we had a busy room filled with many play experiences.

    We watched children and adults:
    – manipulate light
    – explore reflections
    – poke, prick, squish, slam, toss and roll playdough
    – delicately cradle the water beads and a moment later, squish and bounce them
    – mix, pour, measure, squeeze shampoo and conditioner to create potions
    – use their hands to create paintings
    – swirl, swoosh, hold, squirt, and mix shaving cream
    – pour, scoop, and scrape sand
    – trace, scoop, and pinch salt
    – grab, mix, pick and scoop bark mulch
    – lick, bite, and smell at our tasting station (a.k.a. snacks)

    I have so many favourite moments from this evening, but the ones that stood out were hearing the children say “this is so much fun” and “look! look at me!” to their parents and being able to see parents play along side their children. And what excited me most, was that no one was worried about making a mess! More photos of our evening can be found on our Facebook page. We are less that two weeks away from presenting the Educator version of this workshop. Looking forward to seeing more messes remnants of play.


    Originally posted on ece mom.


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  • Non-Profit Video Picks: October 2014

    If you're feeling nostalgic for October, then have we got the thing for you. Here's a belated Non-Profit Video Picks in case you want to #TB to pumpkin month. Stories by blogger Ray Wang.


    Kiva: Funding the World's Entrepreneurial Ambition, One Micro-Transaction at a Time


    Kiva is an online micro-loan platform which connects lenders to borrowers. A farmer in Mongolian can go on Kiva to request a micro-loan so he can purchase organic fertilizer for his farm. A lender can go on the platform to make the loan. In the last decade, Kiva has crowd-funded over 1 million loans totalling almost 500 million dollars.


    Kiva’s success didn’t happen overnight or by accident. In this video, Premal Shah, President at Kiva, shares how Kiva has leveraged the adoption of the Internet and mobile devices to achieve success.



    The Pros and Cons of Starting a Non-Profit (Video Link)


    Contrary to popular belief, a non-profit organization can make a profit. A non-profit organization can sell products or services to generate revenue and use the income to make a social impact. Leila Janah, Founder and CEO of Samasource, a non-profit social business that gives digital work to impoverished people around the globe, shares how her organization uses and will continue to use business tactics to generate profit and use the profit to make a difference in the world.


    Finding Her Way in the Golden City | GOOD Cities Project | San Francisco



    The GOOD Cities Project is designed to explore how different cities or communities have shaped some of our favorite thought leaders, artists, and writers’ views on life. As a part of the project, GOOD has embarked on an adventurous journey with Caterina Fake, a co-founder of photo-sharing site Flickr, to learn how the city of San Francisco and its creative culture and rich history have helped her define her dream of becoming a tech entrepreneur.

    Let us know how the city of Richmond has influenced your life at @VolunteerRmd!



    According to Forbes, only 24% of U.S. IT professionals are female. This alarming low number of females in the IT industry limits the potential growth of the technology industry. According to Intel vice president Bernadette Andrietti, “Women offer a fresh perspective on pro


    According to com/sites/leoking/2014/03/08/women-in-technology-a-brightening-outlook/" data-mce-href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/leoking/2014/03/08/women-in-technology-a-brightening-outlook/" style="color: #1b8be0; font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: 1.7;">Forbes, only 24% of U.S. IT professionals are female. This alarming low number of females in the IT industry limits the potential growth of the technology industry. According to Intel vice president Bernadette Andrietti, “Women offer a fresh perspective on product design, ways of working, risk-taking and many other aspects of business.”


    To inspire more females to enter the technology industry, established female engineers such as Kelly Ellis, Software Engineer at Google, and Shannon Spanhake, Deputy Innovation Officer for the City of San Francisco, share their motivation for entering the technology industry. They also share their thoughts on possible social solutions and products that can be developed if women are encouraged to pursue careers in technology.

    gg


    ff

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  • The Wide World of Volunteerism: October 2014

    So who here misses turkey dinner and Halloween costume fun? For those of you who are not ready for the holiday season, here's a belated Wide World of Volunteerism to bring back October. Story from blogger Ray Wang.

    Plasmodium knowlesi is a deadly malaria parasite which is spread from macaque monkeys to humans via mosquitos. Previously, cases of malaria in Southeast Asia were only found in adult men who worked on logging operations in the forest and got bitten by mosquitos that carried P. knowlesi. Now, cases of malaria are also showing up in children and whole families.

    To determine the cause for the spread of malaria, researchers are using a small camera-carrying drone to map out areas affected by P. knowlesi, collect information about the macaques that host the parasite, and monitor potential breeding grounds for these mosquitos. It is the hope that, with this data, researchers can find a solution to this issue.


    5 Ways Green Office Design Also Makes Workers Happier and More Productive


    Image source: Chriſtopher Chen


    Creative and sustainable office design helps businesses improve the well-being of the planet as well as that of their employees. For example, by designing a bike-friendly office and encouraging their employees to bike to work, businesses can boost their employees’ happiness, making employees less likely to get sick. That means an increase in overall efficiency -- all while reducing a business’s carbon footprint!


    Cured of Ebola, Nina Pham Anxious to See Family, Dog


    Nina Pham, a second nurse who became infected with Ebola while treating an Ebola patient, is now free of the virus after receiving several weeks of supportive care and Ebola-fighting antibodies. Her recovery is a sign of hope for those affected.






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  • Kathryn Tung at the Richmond Family Place

    The Richmond Family Place exists to help children reach their full potential - but the important work that they do supporting families would not be possible without the generous contributions of their volunteers. In this blog post, volunteer blogger Susan Young profiles longtime Family Place volunteer, Kathryn Tung.


    With our busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, volunteering can positively impact our community - it’s the glue that hold a community together. It allows individuals to share and connect with each other, thus strengthening our communities. It can also be a fulfilling experience for the volunteer.


    One of my favorite places for parents with young children is the Richmond Family Place. This is where you will meet Kathryn Tung, one of their many volunteers. For the past 6 years, Kathryn has been helping at the Saturday morning Dad and Child’s Breakfast.


    Kathryn has a background in early childhood education and loves interacting with children and parents. She found the Family Place during a site visit for her practicum. Ever since, she has contributed her time in engaging parents and their kids in active play, singing songs during circle time, and helping around the center where needed.


    She enjoys applying the skills she’s learned into her life and volunteer work. Being around children she notes is a fulfilling experience. Children and parents have different perspectives. Sometimes it takes a different approach to doing something to get your children’s attention or to accomplish a task. Kathryn listens to and shares advice with new parents. She really enjoys volunteering because it’s gratifying to helping others. She notes, “It’s rewarding to see children who often attend the Family Place acknowledge my presence and greet me with a hug”.


    Volunteering can also benefit the volunteer. Since volunteering, Kathryn joking says she she has gained more cooking, time management, and leadership skills working with other people. She strongly believes volunteering has positively affected her life in that she feels more humble and wise. Along with gaining great employable and life skills, she has also met a lot of great people. Kathryn’s advice for someone who has never volunteered before is to try it out. 



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  • Community Block Party at South Arm Park

    Nothing says "neighbourly" like the words "potato sack race" and "human pyramid". At least, that was the case at the Neighbourhood Small Grants block party put on by Stephanie Shack and Isabel Angeles last September! Here's Stephanie with a recap on the event. Neighbourhood Small Grants in Richmond is made possible by Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, a collaboration between Volunteer Richmond Information Services and the Richmond Community Foundation. 

     

      


    When my coworkers and I heard that there was grant money available through the Neighbourhood Small Grants program to help bring our community together, we could not miss this opportunity to apply. We wanted to help strengthen connections within a neigbourhood where the most we knew about each other were the cars we drove.


    Together, Isabel and I sat down to create an invitation list, a promotion plan to spread the word about the event with the aim of including as many people in the community as possible as guests, an event timeline to guide the day, potential volunteers to help us create a successful event, a menu, a budget and a list of activities we could organize to make the day memorable. We put our plan into an online grant application and were approved to host a community block party.
     



    After finding the location (South Arm Park), we created an event page on Facebook and handed out event flyers to local businesses and community centres. The event took place on a bright sunny day, September 20th. All guests were given names tags when they arrived. The hot dog BBQ became a full-fledged spread as guests arrived with their own food contributions of popsicles, cupcakes, fruit trays and veggie trays. 


    The food was a hit followed by the most memorable part of the day - the games. During set up, we noticed that the balls for the ladder ball game were tangled. Two members of the community came over to help untangle the game and chat about their summer. There were enough kids in attendance that we broke the group into four teams to take part in a relay race that included cup stacking, three legged race, along with some games we borrowed including tug of war, ladder ball, and a potato sack race. The race ended with a pinata and medals for the top team. 

    At one point, a part of the ladder ball game was stuck in the tree. The kids had to work together to figure out how to retrieve it and ended up creating a plan that had them physically relying on each other to solve their problem. They created a human pyramid to retrieve the ball!
     

    Families were still chatting as we packed up the event at the end. In the week following the BBQ, we received some feedback by email from people who attended and have included some excerpts below:
     

    "Great event put on today. It was so nice to see a group of diverse personalities mix it up! I personally enjoyed the throwback years of potato sack races! That was priceless."

    "Thank you for a great day. I think everyone had a great time and bonded quite nicely together."

     

     

     


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