Call for 2013 Statesman Journal Articles

Posted on December 31, 2012. Filed under: Good Ideas Stick, Tips for HandsOn Partners | Tags: , , |

Happy New Year!  I am setting my 2013 calendar of articles in the Statesman Journal.  I am writing to invite you to be highlighted in 2013.  Each article runs in the Communities section on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month.  I will write the article and send it to you before sending it to the editor.  I end each article with a call to volunteer and drive interested individuals to our website.  In order to participate, you will need to post a volunteer opportunity for me to send people to.  I am happy to write about a specific event or need or just a general awareness piece about your organization.  If you are interested, please send me a short description of the article topic and the time you prefer to see the article in the paper.  Some dates are already filled and everything else will be first come first served.

Thank you and please let me know if you have any questions.


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Volunteers Needed for Homeless Count January 30th

Posted on December 26, 2012. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: , , |

Thousands of people in Marion and Polk counties experience homelessness each year, including at least 800 youth according to the 2012 Marion County CHIP report.  The vast majority of these youth and adults are people for whom life has dealt a crushing blow: serious illness, abuse, addiction, inability to work, collapse of a family, and ultimately the loss of a place to live.

The annual Homeless Count, conducted by Community Action and its partners, serves our community in the following ways:

  • Gives a more accurate number of our homeless population and information about the causes of homelessness.  Homeless advocates continue to work toward a Plan to End Homelessness in Marion and Polk counties.  The Count gives us the information needed to improve services to better help people out of homelessness, and prevent it in the first place.


  • Provides a yearly measure to see if homeless program changes are reducing the number of homeless people.  Are the changes made to how we serve the homeless actually working, and reducing the number of homeless people?


  • Accurate homeless statistics are necessary to receive the continued federal support (almost one million dollars annually) for homeless programs in Marion and Polk counties.


A large group of volunteers provide the foundation of the support for the Homeless Count every year. Mobile volunteers spend their time traveling in marked vans to locate, greet and count homeless persons on the street, in parks, parking lots, and other places where homeless people frequent. Stationary volunteers help with a variety of tasks at Homeless Count event locations. This year’s Homeless Count will occur on January 30. The stationary locations are throughout Salem and Woodburn.  All volunteers need to attend the Volunteer Orientation on Monday, January 28th, 6:00-7:30pm.   To find more information and sign-up to help, visit and search for ‘Homeless Count’ and make a real difference in the lives of those in need.

Austin Rowlader is the Community Mobilizer for HandsOn Willamette—a program of Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency. He can be reached at (877) 372-4141, or

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Farewell 2011 HandsOn Looks Forward to 2012

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

As 2011 comes to a close, the staff of HandsOn reflects on the year. We consider the hours of hard work the community has accomplished for its neighbors; the wonderful effort put into the environment; and the enduring friendships that have grown out of service.

During the past year, volunteers in the Salem area have mentored children, and worked with adults transitioning from the prison system. Our parks were made safer with the addition of trails. Community gardens have been planted, cared for and shared; healthy cooking classes have been taught to help people learn how to stretch their food budget. Events like Community Homeless Connect provided support and resources for those who are experiencing homelessness. And our veterans find answers and hope at the Veterans’ Stand Down.

Collectively, volunteers in our community provided almost $10 million in human capital.

The Corporation for National and Community Services is the federal agency that oversees civic engagement in our country. Each year they release the “Volunteerism in America” report. During 2011, this report revealed that Salem jumped eight spots and is now fifteenth in the nation for volunteerism for mid-sized cities. At a time when volunteerism trends have declined around the nation, we can celebrate and feel proud of this accomplishment.

We are so very grateful to all those who joined us as volunteers this past year. Though your contribution may have seemed small at the time, it never went unnoticed. Volunteers have provided incredible service and resources for the community.

HandsOn of the Mid-Willamette Valley is looking forward to 2012 with anticipation and excitement, knowing that as a community we can continue to achieve greatness through our volunteer efforts. We hope you will continue to join us for new and stimulating volunteer options. If you didn’t volunteer during 2011, we encourage you to consider sharing your time and talent during the coming year. Together, let’s aspire to be one of the top ten volunteer cities in the U.S.

We wish each and every one of you a joyous New Year. We hope to see you in the classroom, the garden, the office—anywhere you choose as the best place to share your time and give back to the community. Go to for volunteer options across the region.

Melissa Gibler is the program director for HandsOn Mid-Willamette Valley—an initiative of the United Way. She can be reached at (877) 372-4141, or

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Polk Community Connect

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

For the last few years both those in need and volunteers in Marion County have looked forward to Community Homeless Connect. This one-day resource and referral fair is for those who are experiencing homelessness, or are living on the edge of homelessness.

This year, the Polk County Commission for Children and Families is happy to host a similar event for Polk County residents.

Polk Community Connect is a free, one-day resource fair focused on connecting our homeless neighbors and those at risk of becoming homeless, with as many sources of direct support as possible. Community Connect brings county, government and community groups together in the mission to help our homeless and provide information, services and resources. The approach is designed to help inspire hope and respect for those in need—one person at a time. Services include: medical, dental, housing, employment, pet, bike repair, and children and family resources.

Polk Community Connect

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Living Hope City Church

450 SE Washington Street

Dallas, OR

Oregon’s Ending Homelessness Advisory Council defines “homelessness” as being without a decent, safe, stable and permanent place to live that is fit for human habitation. Therefore, people experiencing homelessness include more than people living on the street.

According to the National Alliance to end Homelessness, new evidence suggests that homelessness will increase by five percent during the next three years. It is clear there is a great need for events such as these and we need your help to help make Polk Community Connect successful.

Community Connect is completely staffed by volunteers; requiring at least 150 volunteer to host the event. From set up, serving meals, guiding attendees, or assisting with clean up—there is something for everyone and no help will go unnoticed. You can volunteer for a few hours, or help for the entire day. Donations are also accepted and appreciated.

For more information and sign up instructions go to:

Melissa Gibler is the program director for HandsOn Mid-Willamette Valley—an initiative of the United Way. She can be reached at (877) 372-4141, or

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Mentoring is a Great Way to Give Back

Posted on November 3, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

School is in full swing, which reminds us to consider our community’s youth. What role do you play when it comes to the younger population in your neighborhood? Do you ever pause a moment to watch children at play and imagine what it will be like when they are leading our community in the not-so-distant future? Do you take an active, encouraging role when engaging with youth? Or are you more of a quiet, observant bystander?

According to Oregon Mentors—a nonprofit that supports nearly 100 youth mentoring programs across the state—165,000 youth in Oregon need mentors. Mentoring is a simple, yet powerful experience that helps to foster a positive relationship between an adult and a young person.

The Mid-Willamette Valley offers numerous mentoring options: Mid Valley Mentors provides mentoring opportunities for youth and adults who are affected by incarceration. Volunteers can mentor a child whose parent is incarcerated; or a youth who is under supervision through the juvenile justice system. Marion County New Solutions offers mentoring opportunities for youth who are living with mental health issues.

Local schools also offer mentoring options: Highland Elementary and Judson Middle Schools have requests for mentors posted on the HandsOn database. Other schools also have mentoring needs.

For those interested in mentoring, but uncertain about how to build a relationship with a younger person, the HandsOn Network recently offered up nine easy tips:

· Be patient. A mentoring relationship takes time and is an adjustment for both the mentor and the mentee.

· Praise is important. Be positive and sincere in your praise.

· Set boundaries. Mentors play an important role in a mentee’s life, but they are not meant to replace family or social service professionals.

· Try to understand the mentee’s point of view. Your might not share the same viewpoint, but trying to appreciate their opinion shows you care.

· Celebrate differences. Broaden both your horizons.

· Be honest. Everyone makes mistakes. Admit it when you make one and teach your mentee a valuable skill.

· Be there. You can’t fix everything, but listening can go a long way.

· Be positive. Allow for a few “growing” mistakes and help your mentee learn from them.

· Believe. Your faith in a mentee can be the greatest gift you offer.

To find out more about local mentoring options visit:

Melissa Gibler is the program director for HandsOn Mid-Willamette Valley—an initiative of the United Way. She can be reached at (877) 372-4141, or

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HandsOn Connect has Arrived

Posted on July 25, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

With summer in full swing, many employee volunteer programs and service-minded colleagues begin to prepare for the annual United Way Days of Caring. Traditionally, Days of Caring was a weeklong event each fall that mobilized hundreds of volunteers from local workplaces. Employee teams would dedicate a day, or half-day, of service to complete a project for United Way partner organizations. Projects varied from painting, light construction and yardwork, to whatever needed doing by a team of helping hands.

Days of Caring teams are organized within companies who host an annual workplace campaign for the United Way; thus offering an opportunity for employees to visit and see firsthand the organizations that benefit from their contributions. In turn, the organizations benefit immensely from the completion of work that would otherwise prove costly to their already-strained budgets.

HandsOn Mid-Willamette, a volunteer action center and initiative of the United Way, works directly with companies and applies their expertise to ensure that each company has an unforgettable experience.

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Volunteer Opportunities Abound in Silverton.

Posted on July 14, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

Kicking off its tenth anniversary on July 3rd, the Oregon Garden will celebrate a history of hard work, determination and dedication that began when the Oregon Association of Nurseries first started exploring the development of a botanical garden back in the 1940s. Today, the Oregon Garden is home to more than 20 specialty gardens, waterfalls, quiet ponds, fountains, a children’s garden and a 400 year-old signature oak tree that stands 100 feet high.
In addition to being a peaceful place to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature, the Oregon Garden is also a wonderful place to volunteer. Where else can you plant a flower or tend a walking trail and know that visitors will enjoy your effort for months to come. If you are blessed with a green thumb, you can become a horticulture volunteer and assist staff with more advanced garden projects and care.
You could opt for the annual planting party and invite your family and friend to learn about the plant world as a group. The Oregon Garden is also looking for greeters and gift shop attendants.
If you happen to prefer the company of four-legged friends, consider a short drive to the outskirts of Silverton where you can discover a sprawling farm on a hill called the Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary. At Silver Creek, the goal is to provide a loving home for ill, abused and neglected goats and llamas, while also offering a healing, learning environment for adults and children with special needs.
Silver Creek Animal Sanctuary is currently home to 87 goats and seven llamas—all waiting to offer you a rewarding experience interacting with animals in a healthy, healing environment. Sign up for “Sanctuary Saturday” and spend an afternoon engaged in good old-fashioned hard work with the animals. Every experience includes time giving out treats and attention, which the animals love.
Check out these and other family-friendly volunteer opportunities at:
Melissa Gibler is the program director for HandsOn Mid-Willamette Valley—an initiative of the United Way. She can be reached at (877) 372-4141, or
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Party Like a Volunteer!

Posted on June 25, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

By: Melissa Gibler, special to the Statesman Journal
The week of April 10-16 has been designated National Volunteer Week and will provide an opportunity to spotlight volunteers and commemorate their valuable contributions to our communities.

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