Guest Blogger from Civic Spark and Americorps on the Volunteer Center of the East Bay

This week, we welcome a guest blogger from CivicSpark, Margot Stert. Thanks for the write up! You can read the post below, or visit the original link.

A Tale of Two Offices

When I first joined CivicSpark, the program had already started for other fellows, so I needed a place to live in the Bay Area ASAP. Fortunately, a friend’s family in the East Bay offered to house me rent-free (since living in the Bay Area is far from cheap), but unfortunately, that was over an hour drive from my workplace in Napa. For the first couple of months, my daily commute was over 100 miles round trip, which wasn’t great for my car, my sanity, or my personal carbon footprint!

As luck would have it, in February, a nonprofit organization called the Volunteer Center of the East Bay graciously offered to let me work in their office space in Walnut Creek. I still drive up to Napa weekly, but the nature of my projects allows me to work remotely most of the time, and now my commute is incredibly shorter. The Volunteer Center has had their own AmeriCorps fellows prior to me, so I believe their familiarity with AmeriCorps programs is what inclined them to take me in.

The Volunteer Center does other great work besides just taking care of lost fellows like myself. They promote service in the East Bay by connecting enthusiastic volunteers with nonprofits in need of them. Individuals can search the Center’s online database of hundreds of one-time and on-going volunteer opportunities by organization, service type, and location. They can also create a volunteer profile, which allows them to save searches and receive automatic emails about similar kinds of opportunities.

Non-profits that become members with the Center can increase their ability to recruit volunteers by having their activities posted on the Center’s list of opportunities. The Center also provides these members with trainings on non-profit management topics, such as grant writing, media design, and organizing volunteers. Some of these partners include the Alameda County Community Food Bank, Sustainable Contra Costa, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Even private businesses can get involved with the Volunteer Center to connect their employees to local volunteer opportunities and strengthen their relationships with the community. For example, Corporate Caring Volunteer Week mobilizes 2,500 to 3,000 business volunteers to hundreds of nonprofits each September.

As Executive Director, Jo Loss, says, “The Volunteer Center provides lifeblood to nonprofits, the volunteers that help with critical services to the most-needy in our communities. Our volunteers choose their positions based on their passions, and that creates long-time outstanding participants.” The service done by these volunteers fills a void in the community where there simply aren’t alternative means to accomplish the work they do. Jo continues, “The role of the volunteer is more necessary than ever in 2016. Building relationships as you help others enriches everyone’s life and reminds each of us of the importance of human contact with others.”

The folks at the Volunteer Center foster a positive, service-oriented environment not only between the staff and volunteers (and lone CivicSpark fellow) here in the office, but also in the greater East Bay. As someone who wasn’t so heavily involved with service work prior to the CivicSpark fellowship, it is incredibly inspiring to see individuals who dedicate so much of their time to volunteer efforts.

Connect more volunteers! East Bay Gives is May 3!

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VCEB’s mission is to connect dedicated and skilled volunteers with nonprofits to serve those with greatest need throughout the East Bay. Making a gift on Tuesday, May 3 – a one-day online giving event – is a great way to ensure that even more volunteers help strengthen critical services. Look for the link to the giving page to become live at midnight on May 3. Thank you for your contribution!

Volunteering for the summer?

It’s almost summertime and there are many students looking to volunteer. It’s great to see so many wanting to give back at an early age! Here are a couple of places to visit on our website to learn more about student/youth/family volunteering: For students: view this on Student Volunteering, for Families: check these tips and look at lists here, or search the calendar for one time opportunities, or entire site for ongoing opportunities to get started! awesome

Training for Nonprofits – new classes added!

volunteer handsVolunteers are the lifeblood of many nonprofit and public agencies and enable agencies to deliver on their missions. Yet learning how to recruit, manage and motivate people along with your legal obligations is difficult to pick up on one’s own. Join us at one or more  of our training sessions -upcoming topics include Peer to Peer roundtables, Pregnancy Leave, and NonProfit Law 101 . We can help you gain the skills and resources you need to build and maintain volunteer support. We offer trainings in both Alameda and Contra Costa County – See more here!

MLK Day of Service projects available!

MLK Day of Service/ Youth Action Day is January 18th, 2016! Volunteer projects are available for individuals and groups; we have projects to do through your own school or organization, and MLK-what-doingwith local nonprofits! Register today!

Support the Volunteer Center of the East Bay

Become part of the solution…and donate now to the Volunteer Center of the East Bay. Your contribution enables our volunteers to feed the hungry, teach at-risk children to read, provide care to seniors in need and serve all of the many worthwhile causes that our hundreds of local nonprofits support.

Pleasdonate nowe consider making a year-end gift to support the vital work that our volunteers perform with hundreds of nonprofits throughout the East Bay. Thank you!

Share the Spirit donation and “ribbon” cutting at OSH

A great big thank you to Orchard Supply Hardware for their generous contribution to #SharetheSpirit2015. Our Executive Director, Jo Loss, was in attendance to accept and watch their special version of “ribbon cutting” ceremony for their new store in San Ramon. Check it out here: OSH movie

Holiday Assistance Needed

Many nonprofits are helping the most needy in Alameda and Contra Costa counties during the holidays. You can help in your own community by volunteering, donating food, sponsoring a family, providing gifts and toys, and bring cheer this holiday season. Check out our listings of HOLIDAY VOLUNTEERING and HOLIDAY GIVING to see where you are needed!



2015 Award Winners Announced by the Volunteer Center of the East Bay.

The Unsung Hero Award is given to a volunteer who has provided exceptional support to VCEB over the last year. Ann Flynn will be receiving this award for her work at multiple organizations in the East Bay including with us at VCEB!

Chevron has been selected as the 2015 Volunteer Impact Award winner. This award is given to honor exceptional impact within the volunteer community over the last year.

These awards will be presented at the Third Annual VCEB Friend Raiser event on November 18, to be held at the Walnut Creek Library. For more information, call (925) 472-5760.



Registration is open for FAMILY VOLUNTEER DAY and we are excited to help families find ways to add to the good in their community. It’s a great time to give back, and spend some time together. We have a wide variety of projects for all ages and abilities.

Check out information about the event here! Or just jump right in to learn more about available projects and/or register here!

Get out there and #Volunteer with your friends and family!

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