They ARE our future

Imagine a world where no child had to endure abuse, neglect, or abandonment. A child that could grow in a caring and loving home, receive their basic necessities, education, and safety only to grow into a mature, productive adult in society. A place where child advocates can gain knowledge and not only attain it, but apply it. Where parents are not raising children on their own, but the age old saying “It takes a village” is truly implemented and not forgotten. What a world that would be! Right? But today, in today’s society, hundreds of thousands of children endure some of the most unbelievable crimes that only sheds light on the inability of our society to protect the most vulnerable of our nation. Not only are our children faced with challenges, but youth and families as well. There is a natural progression that children should have from the home to society, and that parents should be able to provide to their children while they are raising them. Advocating on the behalf of children, youth, and families provides a voice to those who are voiceless and cannot speak when in need. There are many advocacy groups in the United States, but Child Welfare League of America has stood in the gap not only for children within the United States, but their impact and influence can be felled throughout the world.

In a world with many advocacy groups, the challenge is not that people are not aware of these groups, and not aware of the issues faced by children, youth, and families; it is, the many mounting issues in this world that seemingly take precedent over those who are not able to speak for themselves and be heard. Michael J. Worth states, “Even those that may advocate relatively noncontroversial ideas, like wearing seat belts and stopping smoking, still compete against complacency and habit, and they compete for attention amidst the distraction of all the other messages with which people are bombarded every day, what communication theory calls “noise” (Worth, 2012, Kind. Loc. 6875). This noise, important or not, cause many people not to see the mounting problems that this population, children, youth, and families, appear not important, or placed on the back burner until some other time that is more convenient to others. In spite of this Child Welfare League of America does not allow distractions to deter their mission. “CWLA is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families since 1920” The focus of CWLA is, “…children and youth who may have experienced abuse, neglect, family disruption, or a range of other factors that jeopardize their safety, permanence, or well-being. CWLA also focuses on the families, caregivers, and the communities that care for and support these children”

CWLA covers a broad range of advocacy initiatives within their focus. From child protection, to adoption, child welfare services, financing child welfare services, immigration, health care, and youth services. There legislature approach is getting Congress to continue to federally fund programs that service children and families in the United States. To not only fund the programs, but provide continued service and improved programs for those having mental health challenges, and to see the importance of early education and care for children and youth. Lobbying and advocating has caused much change within the realm of law. “Indeed, nonprofits have been at the forefront of every important social change in the United States from the beginning of the nation. They have been the principal advocates for people who are disadvantaged or disenfranchised and for causes that initially concern only a minority of people” (Worth, 2012, Kind. Loc. 9474).

The importance of the CWLA is shown even more in several statistics below:

–          In 2011, there were approximately 742,000 instances of confirmed child maltreatment

–          Number of children in foster care as of fiscal year 2012 is 399,546 and number of children waiting to be adopted is 101, 719

–          Many states with a comparatively high percentage of children entering foster care who were age 12 or older at the time of entry also had a relatively high percentage of children reentering foster care

More statistics show the purpose behind CWLA and why their mission is carried out not only in the community but also in the halls of Congress to help pass laws that affect those within the community. “Nonprofit advocacy and lobbying is thus a fundamental pillar of a democratic society” (Worth. 2012. Kind. Loc. 9508).

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research

http://www.cwla.org/

Worth, Michael J. (2011-02-22). Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice (Kindle Location 9511). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Worth, Michael J. (2011-02-22). Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice (Kindle Locations 6875-6877). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Worth, Michael J. (2011-02-22). Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice (Kindle Locations 9477-9479). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

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Volunteering

Volunteerism provides opportunities to help and offer assistance to nonprofit organizations in the service areas that they are interested in. There is a motivation and drive a person should have in order to volunteer, unpaid hours, to a nonprofit organization. Finding something that fuels passion helps to sustain the volunteer throughout the duration of the project, some “volunteer because they have the desire to give something back to society, to improve the lives of others, or to advance some activity or cause that they believe to be important to the future” (Worth. Kindle Loc. 6467). For others the opportunity to volunteer means a chance to meet people, network, increase skills for their resumes, or to simply have something to do other than being at home. Whatever the reason, volunteering can be beneficial to the person whether they want to give back or meet new people. What occur in many cases, and what should be strived for, are both spectrums for volunteering, personal reasons and selfless ones as well, as this provides a well-rounded experience for the person.

I had a volunteer opportunity with Serve DC. Serve DC is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that promotes volunteerism through partnerships with DC communities. “Sever DC…the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism…engages District communities by building partnerships and organizational capacity, leading local and national volunteer and service initiatives, and providing and promoting meaningful service opportunities” (http://serve.dc.gov/page/about-serve-dc). There program areas include national service, collaboration with the Corporation for National and Community Service AmeriCorps VISTA and State and National programs, emergency preparedness, training for volunteers in preparation of crime, disasters and terrorism, and volunteerism, servicing the community in the areas of outreach and community engagement. My volunteer opportunity was to honor September 11th. I chose to help Serve DC set up homeless survival kits for homeless veterans in the DC area. I had heard of Serve DC prior to this service event as they offered opportunities for several volunteers to receive tickets for an upcoming Nationals (Washington, DC baseball team) game. The event happened on September 11th, 2013 around 12 noon at a charter college prep high school school in DC. I was asked, along with two of my co-workers, to set up different survival kit items on tables. There were flashlights, bandage kits, water packs, a book bag, and these brick like meals that could last for three days. Our contact person was the executive director over Serve DC as we as, the volunteer leader of the service event. There wasn’t an orientation session to be able to a part of the event, it was more so, we showed up and the volunteer leader explained to us what we had to do for the day. This project does align with Serve DC’s core mission in volunteerism and service opportunities with the DC community. The basis of Serve DC is volunteering, and with that any opportunity they have to reach out the community and learn more of organizations that need their help, Serve DC will send their volunteers to manage and serve in that capacity.

Currently, I am an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader with the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). This is a position under the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). The mission of CNCS “is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering” (http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/who-we-are). As a VISTA, Volunteers in Service To America, I commit a year to serve in an area within a community of my choosing. I selected Northern Virginia and CADCA in order to work under the VetCorps project. The project helps to address the needs of the military population throughout the United States. VISTA members are sent to various locations to work with coalitions in order to build capacity surrounding the areas of health, housing and unemployment. This is my second year doing the VISTA program. As much as it was a challenge my first year, I decided to come back as this provided an opportunity for me to work within the nonprofit field as I finish my undergraduate degree. It is said that “volunteers are motivated by a desire to serve the mission, that volunteers who remain with the organization are those who experience positive relationships with other volunteers, that those who continue to serve are those who find the nature of the work itself rewarding, and that volunteers value opportunities to learn new skills through their voluntary service” (Worth. Kindle Loc. 6474). My biggest reasons were I valued opportunities to learn new skills and I knew the work I would be doing, this second year around, would be rewarding. This year presented its challenges as well, but what made it rewarding was realizing that the military population needed more advocacy and public policy changes to ensure their needs were met.

I would definitely recommend either Serve DC or AmeriCorps to anyone who is interested in volunteering with an organization. Especially, as both provide opportunities in various service areas to choose from. Serve DC, more so, would send you to service events that they choose, whereas, AmeriCorps, you have the option of selecting where you would like to go. Another difference is Serve DC time commitment is short, an hour or two, or if you desire to stay longer as a volunteer you can. However, AmeriCorps is a year commitment. There are several types of volunteers; Serve DC can have both, either spot or regular volunteers. Spot volunteers are people who’s, “participation is casual and episodic” (Worth. Kindle Loc. 6450), and regular volunteers are those volunteers that “may have the formality of regular paid jobs; there may be job descriptions, clear statements of responsibilities, and specific skills required to perform the work” (Worth. Kindle Loc. 6451). They both have their benefits, but it would depend on what a person desires to do. Time management and commitment are both important when it comes to volunteerism.

There is a third opportunity that I am looking into is with Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront was established in 2002, their mission is “provides emergence financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors” (http://www.operationhomefront.net/aboutus). The services through Operation Homefront include back to school book bags for children, financial and moving assistance, Wounded Warrior Transitional Family Housing, emergency food and home repairs, homeownership and the organization hosts many community events. I volunteered with them for their back to school event early August and admired what they stood on. They hold baby shower events for wives whose husbands are deployed and otherwise cannot afford basic needs for the upcoming arrival of their baby. For me, this would be great as I, as a mother and once a single mother, know the challenges are trying to prepare for the arrival of a baby, so volunteering with this particular area means a lot to me. “Volunteers are the only workforce for many organizations and constitute an important component of the workforce for many others, including those that employ paid staff” (Worth. Kindle Loc. 6675). This was what I gathered when I volunteered. There may have been 5-6 employees, but the force behind Operation Homefront were the volunteers. Many of the volunteers consisted of military spouses and their children. The application process that I noticed with Operation Homefront is somewhat different than what I have seen before. Normally, from my experience you can ask an organization about volunteering and simply sign up; however, with Operation Homefront there is an application and 1-2 recommendations that must be provided prior to you being approved. I think this is great to ensure you receive volunteers that are highly motivated and have references that state their ability and skills.

With either of the organizations that I have volunteered with and look forward to volunteering with again, have given me a great assurance that I will be working with military families, veterans, and their families to advocate on their behalf. They have provided the motivation that I didn’t have before being a part of the opportunities. Volunteering can be more than just a requirement that someone must fulfill, it can be fulfilling and enlightening as well. It can help a person mature and make sound life changing decisions within their career field that can better the community and themselves.

References

About Serve DC. (n.d.). serve. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://serve.dc.gov/page/about-serve-dc

About Us. (n.d.). <i>About Us</i>. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.operationhomefront.net/aboutus

Who We Are. (n.d.). <i>Corporation for National and Community Service</i>. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/who-we-are

Worth, Michael J. (2011-02-22). Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice (Kindle Locations 6467-6468). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Worth, Michael J. (2011-02-22). Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice (Kindle Locations 6474-6476). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Worth, Michael J. (2011-02-22). Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice (Kindle Locations 6450-6451). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Worth, Michael J. (2011-02-22). Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice (Kindle Locations 6451-6452). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Worth, Michael J. (2011-02-22). Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice (Kindle Location 6675). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

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Introducing myself

30 years old and enjoying the journey in learning about public administration. It’s interesting doing while living in the DC metro area, working as an AmeriCorps member at a government nonprofit organization. I’m learning while working, and seeing the correlation between textbook education and work experience. The courses that have been interesting to date are the first three weeks. Introduction to the Nonprofit sector, Theories o the Nonprofit sector, and Governing and Leading Nonprofit Organizations. The case study and analysis have helped in learning how to apply what was learned in situations that I may come across in the future.

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