Tips for First Time Volunteers

Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking to volunteer for the first time?
Read these helpful tips!

Volunteer with a friend!
Volunteering can be a daunting task, especially if you haven't ever partaken in it. To feel more comfortable, invite a friend or two to accompany you. You may find something that strengthens your bond as friends, and helps the community!

Start small!
Starting out to volunteer is an awesome commitment, however, if you aren't sure where you want to volunteer, starting out only doing an hour or two a week may be best. You can start small to find out if you really enjoy it, and then continually add more hours so you feel more comfortable.

Find something interesting!
If you are nervous about choosing a location, think of things that are of interest to you. If you are taking a class about developmental disorders and enjoy learning about it, volunteering at the Special Olympics can be exciting and educational for you.

Use your talents!
One way to feel most comfortable volunteering is to volunteer with an organization that could use your personal expertise. Different organizations can use all types of volunteers to help out. From athletic to musical, your talents and hobbies can be of use!

Learn something new!
Have you ever wanted to try learning something new? Want a fun, inventive way to learn it? Volunteer somewhere that can teach you new and exciting things!

Develop leadership skills!
Volunteering in your community is a valuable trait that teaches many things. Learning something new is awesome, and developing the person you already are into a leader is another something else that volunteering can offer you!

Food & Nutrition Program Week 1

Friday, January 27, 2012

Yesterday we went to Windham Middle School to kick off our 4H Food and Nutrition Program. Since it was our first time we did some ice breaker games that most Eastern students dread doing but the kids absolutely LOVED! It was a lot of fun to see them excited about games like "Squirt", "Move Your Booty", and "Get on the Bus." The ice breakers helped ease away the shyness some kids had when they approached us.

Our first activity was called "Bean Buddy." Basically, we went over the basics of what plants need to grow: water, air, sunlight, and soil. We then constructed mini greenhouses which had all of these with plastic bags. This activity will be the catalyst for our program as next week we'll get to see how the plant started to germinate and have activities about seeds. The next weeks will be dedicated to soil, water, plants, climate, sun/photosynthesis, and nutrition!

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped out! Stay posted to hear about our adventures in the weeks to follow...

Under Awareness Panel & Collection!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Click images to enlarge:

1st FJC Meeting Wrap Up

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meeting Notes
Thank you to those that attended the first Food Justice Committee meeting! We went over:
  • - Why we’re here
  • -   Goals of the committee
  • -   How the committee will work
  • -   4H After School Program

Some of the food justice interest of those who were able to attend were: GMOs, food politics, nutrition, the industry, appreciation of food, farming, hunger & access locally, volunteering, youth.

We’re going to have a discussion at our weekly meetings on these topics. We’ll all share in taking on a leading a discussion based on our interest where we can share what we have read/watched/heard and have a discussion as a group about the information and how we can address that particular in Willimantic. From that, we can plan our events. This is no pressure or formality required whatsoever!

Next Meeting
Our next meeting is Monday, January 30th at 1pm again in the CCE. Becky is going to investigate information on the local status of the population and food security. We will discuss her findings next week. Feel free to search around too and if you find anything, bring it to next week’s meeting.

Whitney brought up some interesting ideas after the meeting in regards to food waste, dumpster diving, and Chartwells. We’ll get into that too!

4H After School Program
This Thursday we will be starting a Food & Nutrition After School Program at Windham Middle School. Thank you to those who expressed interest in helping with this initiative. We will be working with 11 middle schoolers on Thursdays from 4pm-5pm. We will plan and put on a basic curriculum on how plants grow (i.e. lessons on soil, sunlight, water, parts of a plant, etc) and healthy eating (i.e. “my plate”, reading food labels, etc). Starting in March, we will go to Sweeney Elementary School on Fridays and work with the Middle Schoolers to enable them to teach the younger kids the same lessons! Should be a lot of fun J If you would like to as volunteer as well, please let me know ASAP.

Courtesy of Dr. Curran: Good source of international data and current research. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. Excellent general and country-specific information and current research. Good for globalization data. US Department of Agriculture.  Good source for food recalls (agency archives goes back to 1996), food research, rural community data, food security and nutrition data, info on WIC and child nutrition. US Environmental Protection Agency. Info on environmental regulation of agricultural chemicals, on agriculture-related contamination, pesticides, climate change, and sustainability. Food and Drug Administration. Good info on food safety and recalls, regulatory science, and globalization. United Farm Workers site. Great data on US farm labor practices, current research, pesticide data, good video lab too. The UN site where there’s additional data under the headings of development, human rights, and the World Food Programme. The World Bank site where you can search specific projects related to food production and get data on world hunger. International Monetary Fund. Another good source for country-specific data.

Books: Diet for a Dead Planet, Banana, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Compassionate Carnivore, and Fashionable Foodn Fast Food Nation, The Death of Ramon Garcia, Food Politics, What to Eat.

Have a great week and I hope to see you at our next meeting, Monday January  30th at 1pm in the CCE!

What Your Peers Have to Say About Volunteering

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It’s easy to feel like you’ve got it really bad and nothing seems to go your way but on those days volunteering is a reality check—Someone’s always got it worse which is why it’s so important to reach out and help—what goes around comes around!

I have always been interested but never had the opportunities in my hometown. I realized this community has great potential.

Volunteering has helped me realize who I am, what I want to do, and has shown me what compassion can do. It has become my number one hobby.

It has helped me understand the communities I live in and improve it to the best of my ability. The kids I work with have helped me grow as a person and become more understanding.

Meet new people—Great experience—Make a difference—FUN—Learn your strengths—Helping others

Volunteering with children has helped me to relieve stress and it has helped me find my calling in life.

I am a grand step closer to being a leader. I gained more openness and love toward my community. My world view has changed for the better!

It helped me grow as a leader. I also was able to share my stories with younger students who are striving for success just like me.  –Eddie B.

It has helped me meet new people.

Volunteering has helped me by allowing me to gain experiences by interacting with kids different from my field. I was also able to give back to my community by spending time with them and helping them with their school work.

Volunteering has helped me realize what I want to do with the rest of my life.

I have realized that a little bit goes a long way. A little kindness can make a big difference.

Volunteering has helped me realize not everyone comes from as good a family background as I have but just having someone to look up to and talk to can make a real difference in their life.

Volunteering has helped me to see the good in others, maximize my productivity, share my smiles and welcome others. It has also helped me prioritize.

Volunteering has allowed me to gain more experience with children and allowed me to take a break from the stresses of the day. It was a lot of fun!

It has made me appreciate children more. It feels great to achieve something, and I want to volunteer at different places.

I was much challenged and grew a lot. Babies teach patience.

Volunteering has helped me find my true passion in life.

I volunteered at the middle school. I got to work with 5th and 6th graders and they have taught me so much. I can’t wait to volunteer next semester.

Volunteering has helped me develop my teaching skills in Spanish language education. It will be easier for me to become an ESL teacher.

By volunteering I achieve personal growth. As well, I get to go off campus and get involved in the community.

Volunteering has helped me learn more about myself. I realized that my love for helping others is something I want to continue. It has been very rewarding. I can only hope I make a difference like the kids I worked with made on me.

Volunteering has helped me to meet new people, learn their stories, make friends, and connect them with the community.

Volunteering has reminded me that the spirit of humanity is not only alive but prospering.

Over the past two weeks I have helped friends study for their GREs. Over this time I myself have reconnected with some of my sills that have dulled. But thank you Brit and Kate for helping me sharpen my skills. –J.B.

Not only have I been able to reflect on my life but on the lives of others. I am graduating next semester and until now I had no idea what I wanted to do. Now I know I am on the path to helping others.

Volunteering has helped me stay humble. It always reminds me that my life is not all about me. There are always others that could use help. I also learn how to gain respect and show patience.

Volunteering makes me grateful for the position I’m in and gives me a sense of happiness that I’ve made someone smile. Making new friends is great!



Food Justice Committee!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Food Justice Committee (FJC) was formed in Fall of 2011 by Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement to address issues of food insecurity, poverty and education in the Willimantic community. The committee’s goals are:
  • To increase donations of fresh and healthy food to local agencies
  • To educate the community on how to prepare and cook healthy foods
  • To develop and facilitate a weekly after school program curriculum on nutrition and gardening
  • To promote local farmers, farmer markets, eating local and a healthy community
  • To expand the knowledge of the Eastern community (students and staff)  of current agricultural issues
  • To promote and maintain urban gardens
  • An interest in issues related to: poverty, inequality, nutrition, food, education, environment, etc.
  • Critical and analytical thinking skills
  • Ability to manage time and balance academic life with extra-curricular activities
  • Willingness to learn, grow, and have fun
  • Knowledge of or interest in program
  • Being pro-active and assertive
Time Commitments
  • Demonstrate commitment by attending FJC meetings
  • Willingness to participate in events sponsored by the FJC
  • Optional participation in a once a week after school program lesson at Windham Middle School 
Meeting times have yet to be established for Spring semester. All interested students should contact Brit Cava, AmeriCorps VISTA at or 860-465-0684!

President's Weekend Service Trip in NH!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The CCE is offering an Alternative Break during President’s Weekend, which will be February 17-21. We will be going to the Crotched Mountain Foundation in Greenfield, NH to work with children and adults who have brain injuries. Most of what we will be doing is social interaction and some of our time will be spent helping to paint. Activities include: karaoke, games, movie nights, arts and crafts, bowling, gym games, bingo, etc! They also have a hospital on site with patients who are on ventilators that would really love guest to chat with.

The trip includes transportation, meals, and lodging! At an extremely affordable cost of only $85-$100 this is a great trip! The spots are VERY limited so if you are interested, please review the attached information. Attached you will find an information sheet that I believe will answer your questions. Additionally, you will find the application to attend. Please note that space is extremely limited! Applications should be submitted via e-mail to me or dropped off at the CCE (located in room 205 of Wood) by January 11, 2012!

To receive an application and detailed information sheet, please e-mail or call Brit!
Office Number: 860-465-0684
E-mail Address: