Volunteer to help Louisiana Flood Victims

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Volunteer Odyssey-Louisiana Flood Relief

Southern Louisiana is experiencing devastating flooding and they need your help.

You can be a hero to families in need. Can you travel to Louisiana to help? Whether you have time or money to give, you can make a huge impact starting today.

Take the step today to help those in need. Here’s how to start:

Volunteer

  • Volunteer with the Red Cross. The American Red Cross of the Mid-South is recruiting volunteers from the general public who are willing to deploy to Southern Louisiana to assist with relief efforts in response to unprecedented flooding. Attend a Disaster Service Overview & Shelter Fundamentals class next week.
  • UPDATE (8/24) “Red Cross will be holding a training class related to the volunteer effort on Thursday, August 25th, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Red Cross offices (1399 Madison Ave, Memphis). This training program is required to be considered for deployment in addition to the Volunteer Application Process.  If you have not started this process, please click this link. If you have questions, contact tiffany.crumpton@redcross.org to get started.
    If you are already in the flood-affected area, register with Volunteer Louisiana. There is a dire need of volunteers to help staff shelters, to clean up schools, etc (Note: If you live outside of this area, please do not travel on your own to volunteer. Sign up through the Red Cross. Email WestTN@redcross.org).
  • If you want to volunteer your time, we strongly encourage you to do this through the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief. Please do not mobilize a grassroots effort. Red Cross is the safest and most effective way to help if you want to travel to this area. As we learn of others, we will add them to this list.

Donate

  • Donate to Red Cross. To make a financial contribution go to redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text the words LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.
  • To donate to a long-term recovery fund visit the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (http://disasterphilanthropy.org/) or their CrowdRise fund (https://www.crowdrise.com/cdp-flood-recovery).
  • To donate to a short-term relief fund focusing on shelter and needs assessments visit The Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Louisiana Relief Fund (http://www.braf.org/louisiana-flood-relief).
  • For more information on how to donate cash, goods, or your time visit the Louisiana VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) website (http://lavoad.org/how-to-help/). They also have a list of approved organizations if you would like to give directly to an organization rather than through a fund (http://lavoad.org/membership-directory/).
  • Donate to Teach for America’s relief fund for impacted corps members and alumni to replace personal belongings and to help them address needs in their classrooms and schools. You can donate to that fund here.

On-going information

We will be updating this list with the most up to date information. To add service opportunities, please contact sarah@volunteerodyssey.com

Volunteer in Memphis with VolunCheers

VolunCheers attendees putting together mailers for DeNeuville.

By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

It’s 5pm on a Tuesday night, and you’re just getting off work. You’re looking for a quick bite to eat and a chance to hang with some friends, so you decide to go to VolunCheers, Volunteer Odyssey’s monthly happy hour! Each month about fifteen to twenty volunteers attend this event where they sip on beer, munch on snacks, and socialize with peers while they help complete a task for a different non-profit. This makes VolunCheers the perfect way to take some time out of your month to volunteer. Occurring in

VolunCheers attendees putting together mailers for DeNeuville.

VolunCheers attendees putting together mailers for DeNeuville.

the evenings, volunteers can pack in an hour and a half of helping others while also enjoying drinks and snacks. It’s a great way to “unprofessionally network,” Kenn Gibbs says. his month, VolunCheers was held at the DeNeuville Learning Center on South Cooper in Midtown. DeNeuville is a center for women that has activities ranging from computer basics to English as a Second Language. At VolunCheers, volunteers learned about the many programs that DeNeuville offers and helped put marketing materials together to send out to the community.

Very often, VolunCheers attendees desire to return to the non-profit featured at the event and volunteer on a regular basis. Luckily, this was exactly the case at this month’s VolunCheers!  Kenn Gibbs, a frequent VolunCheers attendee, realized he could use his skills to further his passion for helping others at DeNeuville.  Kenn majored in computer science and has a love for volunteering and giving back, so when he heard that DeNeuville holds computer classes for their students, he knew he had to return to assist with tutoring and teaching these classes.

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Kenn Gibbs and Executive Director of DeNeuville, Lori Bramlett, discussing future volunteer opportunities for Kenn at DeNeuville.

For Kenn, volunteering is important because he’s interested in giving back to organizations that are invested in helping the city of Memphis – “drinks and snacks make this even better,” he says. Kenn, a Memphian for over 20 years, loves the city and has been volunteering in Memphis for four years. In Kenn’s 4 years of experience with volunteering, he has found that people love to give back to Memphis – “even people who aren’t from here. People want great things for this city,” he states.

Even if you don’t currently volunteer but have thought about it, Kenn says there is a volunteer opportunity out there for you. If you like to watch TV, there’s a volunteer opportunity for that; if you like to do art, there’s a volunteer opportunity for that; if you like cooking, there’s a volunteer opportunity for that. In this vibrant city, there’s a way to volunteer for things that you care about. You can even match your current hobbies or job skills to volunteer opportunities.

 

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All the great volunteers at June’s VolunCheers benefitting DeNeuville Learning Center.

Kenn saw a need and took action. You can do the same.

Go to volunteerodyssey.com for more information.

Check out the upcoming VolunCheers dates.

If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity that will fit in your schedule, check out Volunteer Odyssey’s Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities.

All-Weather Servants

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By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

Chicago girl in the 901. Kristin just recently moved to Memphis. Having the desire to get involved in her community, meet others, and give back, she attended Volunteer Odyssey’s VolunCheers Minute Match event this past June. While at the event, she heard about the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry (UBFM) who bikes around town every Wednesday giving meals to those in need. She loved this idea of being active while giving back but was a bit taken aback because of her fear of biking. However, she spent some time thinking about it and decided to try it out. She says, “You cannot live your life in fear. Sometimes in order to make a difference in someone’s life you need to conquer your own fears.”

“You cannot live your life in fear.”IMG_1765

Every week she bikes with UBFM sharing her passion of giving back and her hope to change the world. Here is a story from one of the nights biking:

“One week I had such an emotional night riding my bike and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since it occurred. Prior to riding it was pouring rain and began to thunder and lightning. I honestly didn’t think we would be riding that day. I texted Ellen and asked and she responded with ‘Of course, we are all-weather servants.’ After we finished making burritos I stopped to grab my bike and one of the gentlemen I ride with Frank said, ‘we ride no matter what the condition is outside, there is always a need on the street.’ Here I was, being concerned about myself when there are people on the streets that cannot go inside because of the weather. After Frank said that to our group, a guy came up to us in a shirt that was soaking wet and he asked if we had a dry shirt. Frank went inside the building to get him a shirt, and I asked him if he would like a burrito or water. He politely said, ‘no thank you; all I would like is a dry shirt.’ At that point I could have broken down crying because that day between all my activities I changed my shirt four times. If my shirt got wet from running into my apartment building from the parking garage I would have changed my shirt to stay dry and this gentleman had nothing else to change into. I cannot begin to express how much that put into perceptive on next time I get annoyed with a shirt choice, there is someone who has it was worse IMG_1652than you. We began to ride our bikes and at the end of the night we saw a young girl sitting alone and we decided to give her the food we had left in our backpacks. We pulled up to her and you could tell by her demeanor she was dealing with some type of traumatic situation. She was very hesitant to take the food; barely spoke to us and looked terrified. We asked her if she needed anything and she shook her head no. We told her we would be back with a bag full of stuff for her. Our group rode back to the church, and Frank and I decided to go back to deliver the bag. We thought it would be best if I delivered the bag alone. I slowly approached her, placed the bag next to her and kneeled next to her. I asked her what her name is, explained what was in the bag, who we were, why we were on bikes, when she can expect to see us again and if there was anything else we could do for her. She looked me in the eyes for the first time and said, ‘no thank you.’ I walked away and my heart broke. She was maybe 5 years younger than me and seeing her in that traumatic of a state, I wanted to help anyway I could, but as a social worker I knew I couldn’t force help. There is not a day that has gone by that I don’t think of her and our interaction. Every night the interactions we have are different, but they always leave your heart aching to be able to do more than give them a burrito.”

When Kristin volunteers with UBFM, she “walks away from biking with a heavy heart” and the desire “to continue to make a difference.”

Make a difference by conquering your fears. “Figure out what you are passionate about and volunteer with that population. Whether it is kids, adults, homelessness, cancer patients, etc., there is a place you can volunteer at that correlates with your passion,” says Kristin. There’s a volunteer opportunity out there for everyone.

“My goal in life is to change the world and volunteering is a great way to help me reach my goal.”

Volunteering allows Kristin to make a difference in the world. Furthermore, her life’s goal “is to change the world.” Although passing out burritos on Wednesdays night won’t solve world hunger, it is a small step to making hunger in the Memphis community less of a reality and “is going to allow hundreds of people the opportunity to not go to bed hungry.”

Here are some tips she has for future and current volunteers:IMG_1648

* Conquer a fear of yours if it means you will make a difference in someone’s life.

* Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t turn your head from someone who needs help. Everyone has a story, so take the time to listen to someone’s story who you would normally not give a second of your time too.

*Do a small act of kindness to make this world a better place for all of us.

*LOVE YOUR NEIGHBORS including the ones on the street.

*Give someone the shirt off your back if it means their day or night will be that much better.

How to Volunteer During Elvis Week

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By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

We all enjoy the rockin’ and rollin’ of Elvis Week, so why not rock and roll your way into volunteerism? Don’t be “heartbroken”…Put on your “Blue Suede Shoes” and volunteer! Here are several ways to volunteer during 2016’s Elvis Week (August 10-16).

In honor of Elvis Week, here are some music-related opportunities:roots

Here are other non-music-related opportunities to get involved in during Elvis Week:

 

6 Ways to Support the Black Lives Matter Movement in Memphis

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By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

Everyone can help support equality. Here are 6 ways you can support the Black Lives Matter movement in Memphis.

The Black Lives Matter Movement came to light in 2012 in hopes to dismantle systems of oppression and to replenish human rights and dignity for black people. In recent weeks, much has been stirring about the Movement from countless acts of immorality and violence toward the black community; political opinions about race, rights, and privilege; and injustice being served toward our black counterparts. From centuries ago to current events occurring in our community, people have been eager to stand up for their civil rights. If you would like to join the Movement, here are some ways you can get involved or volunteer:

  1. Just City: a local budding nonprofit that fights to reduce the amount of people in jail and prison, to reduce contact with the criminal justice system, and to revive people and neighborhoods after incarceration.

Upcoming events:

Just City Dialogues 6: #TopCopTalk, Thursday, August 4 from 6-7:30pm

Plunge to Expunge, Friday, August 12 from 4-7pm

Donate today or learn more about Just City

  1. younifiedBRIDGES: an organization that allows students to grow, learn, and be exposed to diverse people through experiential learning. BRIDGES also teaches students to “build bridges” across racial, cultural, and economic divides.

Upcoming volunteering event:

YOUnified, Friday, August 5 from 5-9:30pm      
Find more info on their website

  1. Official Black Lives Matter Memphis Chapter: Memphis’ own Black Lives Matter chapter aimed to “dismantle the systems that oppress us.”

Upcoming event:blm

Interest Meeting, Sunday, August 7 from 3-4pm    

Find more info on their Facebook Page

  1. Memphis City Council: the legislative body of Memphis, TN

Upcoming events:

Council Meetings, Tuesdays, August 9 and 23 at 3:30pm

Find more info here 

  1. Black Love Block Party: celebrates the spread of love, unity, food, and musicblack love

Upcoming event:

Black Love Block Party, Saturday, August 13 from 11am-8pm

Find more info on their Facebook page 

  1. Mid-South Peace and Justice Center: a center that “engages, organizes, and mobilizes communities to realize social justice through nonviolent action.” MSPJC also houses G.O.T. Power, a training group for rising grassroots organizers, H.O.P.E., a group made up of homeless or previously homeless to fight for equal rights, Memphis United, a local coalition made to challenge structural and institutional racism, and Memphis Bus Riders Union, which pushes MATA and city officials to improve public transportation for all Memphians.

Calendar of Events

Find more info on their website

Join the Movement today.

5 Ways to Volunteer while Playing Pokémon Go

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11UntitledHow much time do you spend searching looking for Pokémon? While you’re at it, use your Poké Powers for good!

Volunteer Odyssey has 5 ways you can make an impact in your community while playing Pokémon. Talk about two birds one Poké Ball!

5 Ways to give back while hunting for Pokémon:

 

  1. Donate a Poké Lure. Donate a lure at your local children’s hospital so the kids can catch ‘em while they get better! Thanks to your generosity, these kids can play from their hospital bed since they can’t go catch Pokmon outside. In Memphis, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital would love to have you donate a Poké Lure for the kids. (Note: For obvious reasons you can’t wander into a children’s hospital! Drop your Poké Lure outside and be on your way! If you want to become a volunteer at Le Bonheur, email Timorie to get started)
  2. Earn Real Money to Donate. As you wander the wild streets searching for Pokémon, use the Charity Miles app to raise money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Leave the app open while playing Pokémon Go and sponsors donate money to your charity for every mile you walk/run.
  3. Clean the Sidewalks. While searching for those elusive Pokémon, you can pick up trash along your walk. You’ll be making the city cleaner while also having fun. As with hunting Pokémon, please don’t wander into traffic to grab a piece of littler. Use your noggin. If you’re in Memphis, email Janet at Clean Memphis for great places to start.
  4. Walk a Dog! There are tons of dogs that need to be walked at your local animal shelter, so why not FullSizeRenderhelp these pups get exercise since you’ll be walking around town anyway. Just ask the shelter first if they have any “Pokédogs” (dogs that you are allowed to walk while searching for Pokémon) available to walk. Become a dog walker at Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County or your local shelter. (Remember to keep yourself and the animal safe while playing!)
  5. Tend a Garden. Visit your local garden or community park and help them to plant, pull weeds, or maintain the trails while catching Pokémon. There are bound to be tons of Pokémon rustling behind the leaves for you to find. In Memphis, email Irene to volunteer with Shelby Farms.

You can catch ‘em all and give back at the same time! Start today by visiting our website or finding Volunteer Odyssey on Facebook.

7 Ways to Volunteer for the 4th of July

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By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

Celebrate your independence the right way this 4th of July by volunteering! Here are 7 opportunities where you can lend a hand from Thursday, June 30 to Monday, July 4th.

  1. Patriotic Pops Concert and other Levitt Shell opportunities: Thursday, June 30 through Sunday, July 3 from 7:30-9pm (volunteers needed from 4:30-10pm each night)

The Levitt SheScreen Shot 2016-06-27 at 3.14.31 PMll needs volunteers for their annual Patriotic Pops Concert on Thursday, June 30. Members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Jonathan Blanchard will perform several genres of music ranging from spirituals to funk. The finale includes a fireworks display and performance of 1812 Overture. The Shell continues their summer concert series through Sunday. Volunteer time slots range from 4:30-10pm in which volunteers will help with valeting bikes, collecting donations, setting up, cleaning up, and much more.

Sign up or get more info

  1. Usher for Theatre Memphis’ Oliver! : Thursday, June 30 from 6:45 to 10pm; Friday, July 1 and Saturday, July 2 from 7:15 to 10:30pm; and Sunday, July 3 from 1:15 to 5pm

Share your sparkling smile with some fellow Memphians. Volunteer as an usher for Theatre Memphis’ show Oliver! As an usher you will fulfill a variety of duties, such as greeting patrons or selling concessions.

Sign up or get more info

  1. Humane Society’s KPAW Orientation: Saturday, July 2 from noon to 1pmpatriotic pup

Want to see some patriotic pups on this 4th of July weekend? Become a “Kid Promoting Animal Welfare” (KPAW) volunteer at the Humane Society. KPAW Orientations are required to be part of the KPAW program.

Sign up or get more info

  1. Jacob Well’s Multiple Serving Opportunities: Saturday, July 2 from 4:30-7:30pm

Volunteer with Jacob’s Well and serve homeless families across Memphis. Whether feeding the hungry, hanging clothes, or playing with kids, Jacob’s Well has so much to offer to volunteers on this special weekend.

Sign up or get more info

  1. Memphis Stars and Stripes 5K: Saturday, July 2nd at 7pm at Overton Square (volunteers needed from 5-10pm)

Do you want to be outside for the 4th of July celebrations, but you’re dreading the heat? Well, come on out to a cool, evening race brought to you by the American Red Cross and Start2Finish Management. Volunteer with runners and families across the Mid-South. The race will honStars-Stripes-5K-Flyeror local heroes and feature family-friendly entertainment and music. Volunteer shifts range from 5 to 10pm

Sign up or get more info

6. Memphis Farmers Market: Saturday, July 2 from 6am-1:30pm.

Join local farmers and vendors this Saturday and every Saturday. If you want to give back to your community and educate people about eating healthy, volunteering at the Memphis Farmers Market is a great opportunity for you! Volunteers are essential to a successful market day. Whether you’d like to roll up your sleeves and get some dirt on your hands or man the pet sitting tent, there are countless duties to get involved in each Saturday.

Sign up or get more info

7.  St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen: Monday, July 4 from 7:15-10am (continues every day of the week except Sunday)

The early bird gets the worm. Serve a hot meal to those in need on this patriotic morning.

Sign up or get more info

 

Give a meal. Earn a smile.

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By Lulu Abdun, Summer Programs Associate at Volunteer Odyssey

Ever since I was a small girl, my mother has told me about hunger. All over the world, there are people who go without meals, parents who feed their children without feeding themselves, and people who have nothing to feed their hungry bellies but grass and leaves. Learning about hunger and seeing it first hand by living in a city where almost 30% of the population lives under the poverty line, I feel as though I am obligated to make a difference in others’ lives who do not have the means and/or capabilities to obtain food.

Retrieving meal from the cooler

Retrieving meal from the cooler

To fulfill this obligation of mine, I have started delivering meals with MIFA’s Meals on Wheels program. Meeting such wonderful people at MIFA who care about giving back to their community is so meaningful and worthwhile. Whether printing my driving route, opening the doors of homes, or returning to MIFA with an empty cooler, I always saw a smile on someone’s face.

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My sister Sophia and me! About to deliver a meal

My first time delivering meals was a time I’ll never forget. I went with my twin sister from door to door greeting Meals clients with a smile and handing them a hot meal. Delivering meals in such a diverse city, one is bound to come across some amazing people. One Meals client we encountered was a World War II veteran who was about to turn 95! Giving food to those in need gave our lives meaning. After delivering meals, we made our way back to MIFA. As we dropped off the empty coolers, a MIFA employee asked us when we were available to deliver meals again. Knowing that they continually need volunteers, we were honored to be asked back and to know that MIFA cares about retaining their volunteers.

One of the reasons I joined the Volunteer Odyssey team was to help others find places to volunteer where they could go back to on a regular basis instead of going to several different places here and there. Because MIFA gave me the opportunity to come back to deliver meals, I felt like I achieved another goal I had set.

Delivering meals on one route takes about an hour. If you have a car or know someone that has a car, you can take a mere hour of your day to help others, to make a difference in someone else’s life. Take the first step. Take 90 seconds to learn how to become a Meals on Wheels volunteer.

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Returning with an empty cooler

10 Volunteer Opportunities to Beat the Heat

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Memphis Volunteer Opportunities this SummerAs Memphians, we’re no strangers to the heat. As the temperature climbs, here are 10 volunteer opportunities where you can beat the heat in the AC, the evenings, or in the shade.

1) Drive for ITN: transport seniors to doctor appointments and errands via your air conditioned car. Email Kim Weiss

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Teens at Cloud901

2) Memphis Library: volunteer in the digital wonderland that is Cloud901. You can also become a docent, a genealogy assistant, or a summer reader. Email Terrice

3) Humane Society: teach social skills to the dogs awaiting adoption and make toys for the dogs and cats in recovery. Email Linda Larrabee

4) Habitat for Humanity Restore: find furniture with potential and give it a face lift – flea market flip style. Email Amy Paul

5) H*art Gallery: Assist with art classes for the homeless and help make artwork. Email Katie Whitfield 

6) Carpenter Art Garden on Mondays: Tutor indoors or beat the heat and take the kids to ride bikes on the shaded Greenline. Email Megan Banaszek

7) Dorothy Day House: Provide dinner for 3 families on a Monday night. Kids welcome with parents. Email Chandler 

8) Urban Bicycle Food Ministry: Make and deliver burritos by bike to homeless people at nighttime. Email Frank Rouse

9) Fig Tree Food Pantry at Catholic Charities: Distribute food to those in need in the mornings Monday- Wednesday. Email Johnson, Lucie

10) Levitt Shell: Spend an evening volunteering with the Levitt Shell (we know you’re there anyway!) Email Nancy Agee

Want more ideas? Get updates or Join us on Facebook

Volunteers Build and Run the First Flying Eye Hospital

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Volunteers Make A Soaring Impact!

Hundreds of volunteers from Memphis, FedEx, and Orbis collaborated to build a flying hospital – the first of its kind. FedEx Express and Orbis International debuted the world’s one and only mobile ophthalmic teaching hospital. FedEx donated this aircraft back in 2011, and after 6 years of renovation, the finished product is due in part to countless volunteers and retired FedEx employees. This aircraft will be able to travel all across the world providing expert care to millions of people who previously had no access quality eye care.

Of the 285 million people suffering from visual impairment in the world, 4 out of 5 of those cases could have been prevented with proper medical treatment. However, 9 out of 10 of those cases live in developing countries where treatment isn’t available. Therefore, you can see how Orbis has the potential to make a huge impact in the world.

In order to carry out their vision, Orbis has over 400 volunteer pilots and hospital staffers ready to travel around the globe to train other young professionals on how to provide expert eye care. These volunteers are integral to helping make a difference so that one day soon we can report more countries have access to quality medical care leading to fewer number of individuals with visual impairment.

The Flying Eye Hospital is just one example of how ordinary people have the means to change the world if they are willing to donate their time to a cause that ignites their passion. No matter how big or small a task you have the ability to make a difference. What will you do today to make a positive impact in Memphis?  Start making a difference today using the Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities or Volio. Take a virtual tour of the hospital to learn more.

For these volunteers the sky’s the limit!