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!

eBG banner cut

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!

East Bay Businesses – Ready for Corporate Caring Volunteer Week?

Each September, thousands of volunteers from local businesses give back to their community by participating in Corporate Caring Volunteer Week. We have hundreds of projects from Alameda and Contra Costa county nonprofits – and your team can pick one or more! The dates for 2015 are September 21-26. More information is available here!Corporate Caring - Thumbnail

Summer volunteering is here!

It’s 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! volunteer hands

Leave Room for Civic Engagement – Harness the Power of Volunteers

Check out this report from the UN on the power of volunteers:

UN report: Governments often fail to get full benefits of volunteerism
Governments worldwide frequently overlook the contributions that citizens can make as volunteers who can hold officials accountable and reveal injustice, says a report by United Nations volunteers. “Volunteers have been claiming rights and raised awareness among politicians. Any new development agenda must have space for civic engagement,” says Amanda Mukwashi, the report’s author Reuters/Thomson Reuters Foundation

East Bay Gives is May 5th!

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 5 – 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 5. Thank you for your support. Just click here to support the Volunteer Center East Bay Gives VCEB! Thank you!f-eastbay-presenting-sponsor-logo_upload1


School will soon be out, volunteering can be in! As school winds down, we celebrate the youth who volunteer for the fun of it, to explore interests, to meet new people and make new friends, to build resume and college application experience, to share talents and skills, or advance the common good. And, parents also know that volunteering is a great way to get them out of the house! Search for youth volunteer opportunities: Student volunteering or

Save the date – upcoming CERT training!

The California CERT Advisory Workgroup will be holding a one day CERT Conference on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 in Richmond California.  An additional half day is scheduled for Monday June 29th (after lunch) with additional training workshops (think of this as pre conference training).  This conference will similar to the regional workshop held in Costa Mesa in 2014 and is open to Program Managers, Instructors and Volunteers. For more info, contact or call 916-650-6959!

SPRING into volunteering!

Spring is a time of renewal and hope for many, and it’s great to see flowering trees and other signs of the season. Spring is also a great time to plant the seed of volunteerism. We have many one day projects coming up in March and April – many chances to get out with your family, sports team, youth group, co-workers, or just on your own working with an awesome East Bay nonprofit organization. It feels great to give back, and we can help you find the right place. Check out our calendar or search ongoing opportunities!


New Classes Added for Nonprofits!

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 our trainings for nonprofit agencies. 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!