Carter Work Project Day 5: Getting Busy Building Community

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habitat-for-humanity-carter-work-project-volunteersIf I had to boil my five days of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity’s 2013 Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, it would come to this: good people can make a difference in their communities, even in the face of overwhelming problems.

All week long I couldn’t help contrasting what was happening at the national level with what was happening right in my own backyard of Silicon Valley with CWP. The government was shut down, seemingly mired in an impossible conflict, yet all of us working on CWP were getting something truly good done in our communities. Groups like Habitat are tackling huge issues like affordable housing, and make a real impact. Of course Habitat couldn’t do what it does without partnering with municipalities and governmental agencies, but it’s not chained to a political process that sometimes leaves the most vulnerable in the dust.

Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, nearly 30 families in Oakland and San Jose were helped in very valuable ways. Work on a dozen new homes in Oakland progressed, renovation work on two homes in San Jose came closer to completion, and about 15 homes got things like new roofs, energy-efficient windows, new insulation, siding, and numerous repairs both small and large.  [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 4: The Kindness Continues

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Siding Lesson

Volunteers get a lesson from an experienced staff member in how to side a house.

The work—and the kindness—continued at the Carter Work Project in San Jose on Day 4. Teams of volunteers—about half have been here all week, the other half new that day—moved out a little earlier than usual to worksites, determined to finish what was started a few days before.

I’ve seen it happen on other week-long service events, volunteers taking ownership of the project, determined to finish before they have to leave on Friday. A sense of urgency takes over on Day 4, because typically the last day is not a full day. Tomorrow projects come to an end just before 2 p.m.

On this day everyone left from Lake Cunningham Park to job sites for the entire day, rather than returning midday for lunch, saving travel time to and from the worksites before and after. Which meant the support staff volunteers at home base had to scramble in the late morning to divide and pack up the day’s lunch for pickup by site hosts. There were less sites on this day, since three home repair jobs were completed in the first three days, leaving five repair sites and two home renovations.

In my role as Social Media Volunteer, I spent most of my day writing stories about volunteers and staff at the event for Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley, as well as taking photos. The highlight of my day was interviewing an amazing 79-year-old woman who criss-crosses the country in a RV to build Habitat homes. I was honored to hear her story. I’ll post a link to it later.

 

 

 

Carter Work Project Day 3: ‘The Volunteers are Very Cool’

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Overfelt High School’s Habitat for Humanity Club.

I lived to see Day 3 of the Habitat for Humanity Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, something I wasn’t too sure about at the end of Day 2, when President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter came to work. After getting up at 4:30 a.m. and working a full day on Tuesday, I had my doubts, especially when I felt a little tickle in my throat that evening.

To make it to a new day of volunteering, I loaded up on Vitamin C and let myself sleep in, knowing that the registration table was in good hands with the other volunteers I worked with on Monday and Tuesday, and that the number of volunteers checking in would drop back down to Monday’s levels. Thankfully the extra sleep worked; I had the energy to continue my social media volunteer duties all day Wednesday.

On Tuesday my focus was on capturing photos of the executives and employees of the numerous companies that donated to the CWP. Wednesday I spent time with an awesome group of Overfelt High School students who founded a Habitat for Humanity Club at their school. I also interviewed a group of experienced Habitat construction employees who came up as a group from Los Angeles. [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 2: ‘Habitat a Gift to All of Us’

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president-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-habitat-for-humanity-carter-work-project-san-jose-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesTuesday was Day 2 of Habitat for Humanity’s Carter Work Project (CWP) in San Jose, or rather, The Big Day, since President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn came to work side by side with a partner family and hundreds of volunteers.

The morning started early and in the dark at 6 a.m. for those of us serving as registration volunteers. We fumbled in the dark, using a couple of flashlights and our cell phones to read off names as volunteers showed up. Approximately 275 volunteers checked in over the next couple of hours.

Sometime after 8 a.m. the stars of the event, President and Mrs. Carter, arrived by a small motorcade, and more than 300 people, including volunteers and donors who attended an earlier breakfast, burst into applause as they walked from the parking lot to the outdoor pavilion in Lake Cunningham Park. Moments later the crowd stood up and cheered for President Carter as he took to the stage to speak, prompting him to quip, “Sit down, save your strength, you’re going to need it for later in the day!” [Read more…]

Carter Work Project Day 1: ‘A Culture of Kindness’

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carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valley-jimmy-carter-rosalynn-carter-volunteers-kindnessI spent the day with dozens of volunteers today in San Jose for Day 1 of Habitat for Humanity’s Carter Work Project. One of the best lines of the day was from a long-time volunteer who told me she volunteers because of Habitat’s “culture of kindness.”

Best moment of the day: when a member of one of the partner families—someone who thought she’d never be able to purchase a home in her lifetime—was in tears when I asked her what being able to purchase a Habitat home means to her. She could barely speak.

My day as a volunteer started at 6:30 a.m. at Lake Cunningham Park in East San Jose to help at the registration tables, before heading off to work sites to interview people and take photos as a Social Media Volunteer. Of the volunteers I met today, most were from around the Bay Area, but some were from as far away as Los Angeles.

Tomorrow’s day starts at 6 a.m., to greet the hundreds of volunteers showing up to work with President Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalynn, and country music stars and husband and wife Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood. The couples worked in Oakland today.

Here are some other highlights from the day: [Read more…]

Habitat’s Carter Work Project in Bay Area Begins!

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president-jimmy-carter-rosalyn-carter-work-project-habitat-for-humanity-east-bay-silicon-valleyThis morning marks the beginning of the 30th anniversary Carter Work Project (CWP), Habitat for Humanity’s annual large-scale volunteer event, and I am ready for the roller coaster ride about to launch here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I volunteered to be a “Social Media Volunteer” in San Jose for the week-long service event. Mostly I’ll be doing what I always do as a journalist, interviewing people, taking photos, and writing stories, only on the fly around San Jose. I’ll also be sending bits of content to the people in charge of Habitat’s media for tweets and other social media posts throughout each day.

I’ve wanted to be a volunteer for the CWP for more than 20 years, but family, work, finances, and distance have all been a factor in not signing up. The special service and fundraising event is held in a different location every year, in the U.S. and abroad. When I heard this past spring that the CWP was coming to the Bay Area, I jumped at the chance to help. [Read more…]

Update: Super Volunteer Weekend Includes ‘Giant Sweep’ Event in SF

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Giant Sweep EventEarlier this week I told you about what I’m dubbing as the Bay Area’s “Super Volunteer Weekend”, with numerous volunteer and charity walks taking place all over the region. Beautiful Day and Compassion Weekend alone could attract more than 10,000 volunteers. Now add a “Giant Sweep” event on Saturday, April 27, sponsored by the San Francisco Giants, the City of San Francisco, and Starbucks.

I don’t normally visit Starbucks, so I”m not surprised I missed the news that the company declared April as the “Global Month of Service,” and Saturday, April 27, as the “Global Day of Service”. It’s all part of a community service initiative of Starbuck’s to rack up 1 million hours of community service amongst participating staffers and patrons by the year 2015.

On Saturday the company is partnering with the San Francisco Giants and the City of San Francisco for a Giant Sweep anti-litter event. The public is invited to meet at 8:30 a.m. at the U.N. Plaza, 1150 Market St., for a kickoff ceremony, followed by clean up events located all over the city. [Read more…]

Bay Area’s Super Volunteer Weekend Approaches; Sign Up to Make a Difference

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From Beautiful Day 2012.

A wave of kindness and compassion is about to wash over the Bay Area this weekend. Are you ready to dive in?

Numerous nonprofit and faith-based groups are sponsoring large-scale volunteer events all over the region April 27 and 28, and they’re counting on you, along with thousands of others, to swing hammers, pull weeds, paint homes, beautify schools, and take long walks all in the name of helping our communities.

The biggest events of the weekend, Beautiful Day and Compassion Weekend, could draw as many as 10,000 people to projects from San Francisco to Hollister.  National Rebuilding Day takes place on Saturday, when even more thousands of volunteers representing four local chapters of Rebuilding Together will refurbish dozens homes. There are a few more Earth Day events taking place, and several charity walks are slated.

UPDATE (4/25/13): Giant Sweep, a collaboration of Starbucks, the San Francisco Giants, and the City of San Francisco, is also taking place on Saturday, April 27, in what the coffee giant is calling a Global Day of Service. Up to 1,000 volunteers are needed to clean up litter and make improvements around the city from 8:30 a.m. to lunchtime.

Below is a rundown of all the major events happening in the region this weekend, with links to online registrations. Consider joining your neighbors in making the Bay Area a better place for all.

Did I miss an event? Please share the information in comments! [Read more…]

Earth Day Events Flood Weekend Calendar

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volunteer-cleans-up-creekGet ready to love the Earth this weekend, there are dozens of Earth Day events happening all over the San Francisco Bay Area, mostly on Saturday, but other events are taking place Sunday, and even into next week.

The biggest, and perhaps most well-known of the events, is Earth Day San Francisco, taking place 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the Civic Center Plaza in the downtown area. The main stage features “edutainment”, with music and other live performances throughout the day. There are hands-on exhibits, an entire area dedicated to electric transportation, eco fashion shows, eco art, sustainable/solar powered beer and wine gardens, Earth-friendly vendors, an “Eco Youth Zone”, and two children’s playgrounds.

Across the bay in Oakland there are more than 80 volunteer projects scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon. You can download a complete list of project locations from Oakland’s website. Bring your own tools, gloves, hats, and sunscreen. [Read more…]

Louder Than Words: Beautiful Day Looking for 6K+ Volunteers to Take Action in April

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Credit: Beautiful Day Instagram

This year’s Beautiful Day logo is a megaphone blaring the words, “Louder Than Words”, and there’s maybe nothing louder than the action of more than 6,000 volunteers engaged in making a positive impact on Santa Clara County, the week of April 22-28.

The nonprofit group collaborates annually with dozens of churches, agencies, nonprofits, companies, and individuals, for one week in April to fix up schools, homes, centers, parks, neighborhoods, and other public spaces. Last year an estimated 3,500 people volunteered during Beautiful Day week; 2,400 volunteered the year before.

“I think this year, more than ever, we’re seeing the volume—and by volume I mean the loudness—of a collective expression of service and compassion that’s amplified for the world to see,” said Beautiful Day Director Jon Talbert.  He said this year’s event will demonstrate that, “when you unify and serve together, you make a significant impact in your neighborhood, and that’s what we hope to see happen.”

Talbert estimates there are between 6,000 and 7,000 volunteer slots available for almost 50 projects happening all over Santa Clara County. “And they’re filling them,” he said. [Read more…]