Making Time to Make A Difference

With school back in session, we understand that it can be hard to balance both academics and community service. New schedules, new courses, it’s a lot to take in! For Jersey Cares Project Coordinator and Rutgers New Brunswick Senior, Dominick DiCarlo, civic engagement is a vital part of his college experience.Dominick DiCarlo-September 2018

Looking for ways to make a positive difference during his free time, Jersey Cares provided both the tools and platform necessary to do just that. “I started volunteering with Jersey Cares because I wanted to become more involved in my community, both at home and at school. My desire to volunteer increased significantly while in college, specifically in the areas of hunger and homelessness, due to the surprisingly high level of students at my university and residents in the community who were food insecure.”

According to Dominick, community service is “a very important, if not THE most important, thing to be involved in outside of school work”. He attributes civic engagement both to his current success as well as his personal fulfillment. “Service blends real-world experience with people, which can be applied to almost any job you could think of, with tons of other skills, like the ability to improvise, work in a team, and communicate. You grow these skills, all while supporting others who need help, making you feel empowered as you’ve helped make a positive impact on other people’s lives”.

In fact, when they aren’t hitting the books, Dominick and his peers serve on the executive board of the flagship Rutgers Cares club, an organization that connects Rutgers New Brunswick students with local Jersey Cares opportunities. Aside from their participation in recurring Jersey Cares opportunities, the club conducts mini service opportunities, and work with other Rutgers organizations to coordinate collection drives. Last year alone, they collected over 250 pounds of food for the Rutgers Student Food Pantry and grocery bags of toiletries for the Jersey Cares First-Night Kits!

While his ability to manage service on top of school work may appear superhuman, for Dominick, it’s all about discipline and time management.

” You have to decide that you want to volunteer early, and build it into your schedule, so that you can still have time for work, as well as leisure time to relax. By planning ahead, you ensure that you can successfully balance your school work and volunteer work, and leisure time without being overwhelmed or sacrificing one for the others. It’s also good to start off with a light volunteer schedule and then progressively add more events. When you’re eager to start volunteering, you want to be as active as possible, but you also want to make sure not to overload your schedule, which may stress you out or cause you to back out of some of the events. For example, last school year I volunteered with a food pantry every-other Friday for the first semester, and then bumped my volunteering to every Friday.”

So, if the new school year has you skeptical about continuing community service, take a page from Dominick’s book and start off slow. Once you find an opportunity that you really connect with, making time to make a difference becomes a piece of cake. Head to our volunteer opportunity calendar to check out upcoming opportunities near you!

Be A Shero

By Siara Clemente, Jersey Cares Program Manager, ReadyCorps AmeriCorps Member

she·ro

ˈshirō/

noun

  1. a woman, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

 

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Siara Clemente, Jersey Cares Program Coordinator, ReadyCorps AmeriCorps Member

To be a shero, one does not need to save the world, but rather, simply make a difference. Here at Jersey Cares, it is our goal to enable average individuals to conduct heroic gestures. These gestures may include sorting items at a foodbank or mentoring youth. The fact is, as long as a difference is made in someone’s life, and an impact is left, the mission has been accomplished. It’s important to remember that although a difference may not been made on the whole population, a difference was in fact made for at least one individual, and to that person, our sheroes appear to be wonder women.

 

This all being said, I’m excited to report a new opportunity available for sheroes, as well as their friends and family. Jersey Cares is working with the American Red Cross to help conduct the New Jersey Region Home Fire Campaign. Volunteers who attend are broken up into teams and provided a specific area to canvass, in which they provide residents with fire safety information and help the local fire departments install smoke alarms, should they be needed. These events will be occurring all over the state of New Jersey, and are open to anyone who would like to raise awareness, as fires are the most common natural disaster.

I was fortunate enough to attend my first fire safety canvassing event in Lambertville, New Jersey, located in Hunterdon County. I was placed on a team of four, and my team alone reached about 137 homes. As a whole, volunteers canvassed a total of 765 homes, and had approximately 86 alarms installed by the local fire department.

It’s important to know that not every family has the income to have smoke alarms installed on their own, and it’s even more important to be aware that more than half of parents do not have a designated meeting place in case of disaster. Families need to prepare now, for what may or may not occur in the future. This is a call to all parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, families, and friends; be a shero, be a hero. Learn what you need to know, and share it with others. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Volunteer.

For more information regarding the Red Cross Fire Safety Campaign, as well as dates and times of events, please contact Siara Clemente, the Ready Corps Program Coordinator.

Red Cross Fire Safety Volunteer Event Registration

 

City Spotlight: Trenton

As a response to all of the amazing volunteer work being done across New Jersey, the Jersey Cares City Spotlight will showcase exceptional civic engagement weekly in a specific New Jersey community.

This week, Jersey Cares City Spotlight features New Jersey’s capital city – Trenton!

Trenton is a city full of history! It is known as the site of George Washington’s first victory in the War of Independence. Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night in 1766 and surprised the British in a battle which resulted in a victory for the Continental Army. Trenton also briefly served as the capital of the new United States of America, during November and December 1784.

While Trenton holds the distinction of being a historical city, it is also a very special place for Jersey Cares. Trenton has amazing volunteers and hosts several Jersey Cares service projects!

This past year, volunteers in Trenton distributed 735 coats to five agencies through the Jersey Cares Annual Coat Drive. Additionally, Bank of America corporate volunteers recently gave back to a Trenton elementary school. Almost 30 individuals spent over 100 hours painting line games, building picnic tables, planting flowers and painting canvas murals. In total, this helped to serve 413 children!

This past Jersey Cares Day, volunteer efforts amounted to over 150 service hours in Trenton. During this time, 40 flower pots were planted, 14 canvas murals, five planter murals, and line games were painted. At the end of this busy day in Trenton, 413 kids were served!

Trenton is not the only city in Mercer County who has dedicated volunteers! In fact, through the Jersey Cares Volunteer Opportunity Calendar, Mercer County volunteers meet the needs of 3 non-profit agencies. On a weekly basis, Jersey Cares volunteers can be found assisting individuals with finding employment by collecting, sorting and packaging  clothing at Caring Closet in Lawrence. Mercer County volunteers also use their intelligence to help tutor children at Kiddy Care in Lawrence.

Celebrate this amazing, New Jersey city by continuing Trenton’s commitment to volunteerism by finding volunteer opportunities at www.jerseycares.org!

Volunteers show off their finished line game!

Volunteers show off their finished line game!