Volunteering and Your Dream Job

Infographic-volunteering-and-your-careerMark Horoszowski is Co-founder of MovingWorlds.org, a global platform connecting people who want to volunteer their skills with social impact organizations around the world. Mark recently wrote this great article on volunteering which appearred in his blog and in The Huffington Post.


Good for the World, Good for You – This Infographic Shows How Volunteering Can Help You Find and Get Your Dream Job

Finding and earning your dream job is no easy journey, but it turns out that doing good for the world might be your golden ticket.

Over the past few years, we’ve spoken with hundreds of volunteers, hiring managers, recruiters, and career coaches to explore the theory that volunteering can help people get their dream job in any sector: public, private, or non-profit. We’ve complimented our qualitative stories with quantitative research to show that volunteering helps you at all the main steps of your career path:

  1. Identifying your passions and career calling
  2. Building critical skills and making your resume stand out
  3. Helping you ace the interview and hiring process

Our team is incredibly eager to show this research as it represents a true win-win: Some of the biggest challenges facing this earth are skills-related challenges, meanwhile people benefit by contributing their skills to global issues.

“No matter the position I’m interviewing for, I look specifically for volunteer experience – it shows me that the person has passion, thinks beyond him/herself, and has the ability to take initiative. In short, it shows me the person will be a better team member.” – Mary M, Leadership Development Professional at Fortune 50 Company

In summary, our research shows that people should be pickier about the way they engage in volunteering by making sure their time and talents are actually needed – not just their physical presence. In fact, we found that volunteers are more engaged, deliver more value to organizations, and stay longer if they donate their real talents as opposed to their muscles. In doing so, they also tend to experience “career enlightenment”.

However, there appears to be a right and wrong way to both volunteer AND communicate your experience on your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter. The following infographic shows you why and how volunteering your skills, especially on a dedicated project like an international volunteering trip, can help you find and get your dream job. It is also full of useful tips about how to choose a project and how to talk about your volunteer experience during the interview process for public, private, or governmental jobs.

Volunteering Can Help You Identify Your Dream Job

Beyond helping you understand your strengths, being purposeful about your volunteer work can also help you learn more about specific industries, gain experience working on different types of teams, and gain exposure to what it’s like to work inside different sizes of organizations. The combination of these can help you refine what and where your dream job is. In fact, 95% of career advisers agreed that volunteering “brings clarity to the job search”, and 76% strongly agreed that it made you “more likely to get your dream job”.

“If you’re thinking of making a career change years down the road, consider volunteering now to lay a foundation for the future. It helps you identify your real strengths, build a bigger network, and explore what truly motivates you. You’ll look back and be glad you had the foresight to plan early.” – Brad Waters, Founder of Brad Waters Coaching and Consulting

There is a great article in the Harvard Business Review that hits to the theory as to why this is true: Profession and Purpose

Volunteering Can Improve Your Resume and Help You Stand Out

This was one of the most interesting areas in our research… We found that most recruiters spend less than 60 seconds looking at a resume, and experienced recruiters spend even less – one recruiter shared that she spends less than 30 seconds per resume. Only 30.4% felt that candidates with international skills-based volunteering experience stand out.

So what do they look for? They focus their few seconds of attention on REAL work experience that tells a “cohesive story” about why you are applying for a job and deserve to get it. While recruiters tend to agree that volunteering makes you a more interesting candidate (54%), the slight majority DO NOT look specifically for it.

In other words, while recruiters don’t look for volunteer experience, our research hints that if it is communicated the right way, it makes your resume “stand out”. However, one anonymous recruiter told us that “a resume with too much volunteer experience is a negative thing if the person is applying for a for-profit company, even if that company has a history of good social responsibility”.

Recruiters did agree that there is a “best” way to position your volunteer experience, and it’s probably not what you expect.

“If you have completed meaningful projects, include it as real work experience, not in a ‘volunteer or interest’ section. Call it ‘Pro Bono consulting’ and articulate the situation, task, action, and result – just as you would a normal job.” – Katie Kross, author of Profession and Purpose

Your skills-based volunteer experience should help you round out your resume and tell a recruiter that you have the skills and experience needed for it, as well as a passion for the industry. As an example, if you are a finance professional looking to get into the tech industry, like Google, volunteering finance skills at a tech nonprofit or a tech startup can help show your passion for tech. Or, perhaps you’re a program manager at a tech company and want to get into global development at the Gates Foundation. In this second case, having volunteered overseas for an extended length of time with a similar type of beneficiary organization will prove that you have the skills and field experience to earn a position.

Volunteering Can Help You While You Interview

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of managers that get excited when candidates have real volunteer experience – 66% specifically look for it and strongly value it. Similar to career advisers and recruiters, they agreed that “day of labor” style volunteering didn’t add much value. Instead they emphasized that people who engaged in skills-based projects for a specific cause “stood out as more interesting candidates because they are likely to be better team members”.

“International experience (of any kind, personal or professional) leads to a greater life experience, which then leads to a greater awareness of needs. In my experience, candidates who have these things then have a greater ability to innovate.” – Harry Weiner, Co-founder and Partner at On-Ramps

Similar to on your resume, volunteer work is only interesting it if demonstrates that you took initiative and delivered meaningful results. Anecdotally, we also feel that managers value volunteering for another reason – many felt that it involved “transferring skills to others”, and this resonated as being very valuable as it showed you had prior experience with coaching and developing others.

Why is Volunteering Experience Valued so Highly?

Along the entire candidate screening and hiring journey, volunteering your skills simply shows that you take initiative, are more selfless, and truly value your professional skills. Managers equate this to mean that you are more likely to be a better team member and deliver results.

“In every situation – from financial to creative positions – I look at a candidate’s volunteer history. It’s a good indication of their passion, leadership and problem solving abilities.” Julian Lorentz, Owner at Awakening Visuals

Indeed, we saw that managers agreed or strongly agreed that skills-based volunteering, especially in international environments, was a great way to develop skills needed to succeed:

  • Collaboration: 93.8%
  • Communication: 97%
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ): 89.3%
  • Grit: 80%
  • Innovation: 70%
  • Leadership: 90.3%
  • Problem Solving: 90.3%

However, managers were quick to note that “not all volunteer experiences are created equal”. First and foremost, managers are most interested “in finding quality people with demonstrated skills… volunteering doesn’t automatically mean you are either of these. It has to be the right type of volunteering project”.

An Important Caveat

As an organization with a mission of accelerating the impact of changemakers around the world, we would like to add the caveat that volunteering should be approached as selflessly as possible. Our research should not be used to motivate people to volunteer just for the sake of professional gain… In fact, our research shows that people should start their volunteering endeavor by auditing their skills, formalizing their goals, and then searching for an organization that specifically needs their skills. Groups like MovingWorlds, Catchafire, and LinkedIn For Good can all help you find the perfect placement. Done improperly, volunteering your skills might make your resume look better, but it can harm the organization you are trying to support.

In fact, a notable number of respondents felt that volunteering did NOT even belong on your resume at all and were quick to add comments that if they felt volunteer experiences were engaged only for professional gain, it would negatively impact the candidate.

In Summary

Our research shows that volunteering can indeed help you in all steps of your career journey, from identifying your passion to standing out in the hiring process regardless of your career ambitions. However, volunteer experience doesn’t automatically launch you past other candidates, and in fact, it can even detract from your resume. One of the senior level managers we spoke with best summarized this point when he shared that

“When I’m looking for someone to join my team, the recipe is actually pretty simple… I want the person to have the required skills, I want to know the person has passion for our company and industry, and I want proof that the person will be an effective team member and the potential to be a long-term contributor, and hopefully, a leader… the right type of volunteer experience can help with all of those, especially the latter, but it’s not a replacement for job experience… it’s more of an icing on the cake situation. But when you’re looking for the best cake, icing is pretty @%&$ important!”

It is our contention that in this globally-connected and competitive job market, the more connections you’ve made, skills you’ve practiced, and experiences you have, the more you stand out. And, considering some of the world’s biggest challenges are propagated by a lack of access to skills, we also live in a time when doing good for the world can help you get ahead, and is good for your health, too!

If you have additional insights on the topic or care about it, we’d love to talk to you. Find us on Twitter or contact us.

This post originally appeared on the MovingWorlds blog and is reposted with permission.

This page contains materials from The Huffington Post and/or other third party writers. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”) has not selected or reviewed such third party content and it does not necessarily reflect the views of PwC. PwC does not endorse and is not affiliated with any such third party. The materials are provided for general information purposes only, should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors, and PwC shall have no liability or responsibility in connection therewith.

The Huffington Post

International Day of the African Child

International Day of the African Child

UniversalGivingâ„¢, a website that helps people give and volunteer with the top-performing projects all over the world, is recognizing the International Day of the African Child and some of the better projects and volunteer vacation facilitators.

UniversalGiving Celebrates International Day of the African Child

On June 16th, 1976, about ten thousand schoolchildren marched in Soweto, South Africa to protest the poor quality of education they were receiving, as well as to demand the right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of these young children were shot, simply for daring to believe that they deserved better.

The International Day of the African Child (DAC) is a holiday taking place on June 16th that seeks to commemorate the children who died in Soweto, recognize the complex needs of African children, and reaffirm a commitment to protect their rights. This year, the theme of DAC is "25 Years After the Adoption of the African Children”s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa.”

UniversalGiving celebrates DAC to ensure that the needs and rights of African children are protected and respected. Today, many children in Africa are suffering every day from a lack of food, healthcare, education, and other basic human rights.

Celebrate International Day of the African Child by donating to or volunteering with one of UniversalGiving”s top-quality partner organizations committed to bettering the lives of children in Africa. UniversalGiving offers a wide selection of thoroughly vetted, highly trustworthy organizations to choose from. You can rest assured that all of the organizations on our website have been held to the highest standards of quality, transparency, and trust, and 100% of donations made through UniversalGiving go directly to the cause. So go ahead–do your part for these children, and check out one of our Top Projects, Top Gift Packages, or Top Volunteer Opportunities!

Top Projects

Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI). ECI”s partner, HEAL Africa, is a specialized hospital in Goma that has provided healthcare to the population of Eastern Congo since 1994. ECI”s maternal health and child health initiatives have boosted the quality of life for many children of Congo. Recently, heavy fighting outside of Goma has increased the need for health care in Congo; now, more than ever, these children need your help. Your donation of $25 goes to delivering medical supplies to wounded civilians.

Develop Africa. Funding this Develop Africa project will help provide lifesaving serum to patients infected with ebola in Sierra Leone–many of whom are children. A $25 donation to this project will fund the purchase and shipment of one FDA approved machine which will help create the Convalescent Serum. Just $25 could save a life from ebola–too many lives have already been lost.

Top Gift Packages

Develop Africa. Many facilities in African schools have not caught up to the information age, making it difficult for children to receive the training and knowledge they need to succeed in today”s world. Develop Africa is providing computer training to empower African students and equip them with the tools they need to thrive. $50 will sponsor training in basic computer skills and office application for young African students.

World Food Program USA. It is estimated that 66 million students around the world go to school hungry. The World Food Program USA provides essential school meals to children, feeding their bodies so that they can grow their minds. School meals can also provide incentive for families to send their children to school, so these families no longer have to worry about feeding their hungry children during the day. These meals can lift entire communities out of poverty– your $50 gift could save a life and promote education in poverty-ridden communities of Africa.

Top Volunteer Opportunities

Globe Aware. Volunteers with Globe Aware will travel to the Imizamo Yethu township of South Africa, where they will assist in numerous projects including improving pre-school care centers, refurbishing the Community Youth Center, and participating in school sports lessons. Traveling to South Africa and engaging with this unique community is sure to be an incredible and rewarding experience.

The Global Volunteer Network Foundation (GVN). GVN has many enriching volunteer opportunities in Uganda, where participants will help provide primary and secondary education for needy children. GVN volunteers will be able to provide crucial love, affection, support, and education to orphaned or abandoned Ugandan children who desperately need help. Working with these children is sure to irrevocably change your life for the better–and their lives, too.

Self

Being Aware of Your Globe

Globe Aware founder and executive director Kimberly Haley-Coleman wrote an article for Everyday Ambassador’s "Wednesday Wisdom", a weekly series curated by Everyday Ambassador Partnerships Manager Anjana Sreedhar. In her article, Kimberly highlights central values such as empathy and patience, and how they all relate to building a comprehensive cultural understanding about our environment.

kimberly-hockadayAs a high school student in Dallas at Hocakday, I was fortunate to be able to travel internationally and to be involved in many lo­cal community service projects from candy striping at hos­pitals to working in women' s shelters. I was interested in other cultures and languages from a young age, and perhaps most specifically how cultural conditioning dictates such a great amount of our behaviors. It is something we don' t often examine, that our actions are often largely LEARNED. It may be something as simple as how much free time is considered a humane and normal amount to have in one' s life. The answer is hugely divergent even based on the country in which one was born, or the culture to which one is attached. I find this important because it also shows how a person can change their perspective. The kind of message that has the ability to completely change your life " to be happier, healthier and to have a greater impact helping others achieve their goals " which in itself has a coronation to happiness.

After high school, I went to Emory University and continued educa­tion in international cultures and held many jobs that re­quired multi-cultural skills. I then went onto receive my Masters in French and Art His­tory and my MBA in inter­national business then worked for a variety of corporations. Like many, I saw my pocket book expand, but felt my soul shrinking. I would find myself in a country like Brazil over the weekend on business, and looking to fill free time. Beyond tourist activities, I wanted to connect to the local communities by volunteering. I found that most organizations simply do not want to accept anyone short term, as the amount of time and resources it takes just to organize fro or train someone for a few days is more trouble than its worth. I did understand. But my appetite grew. I called every organization I could and kept coming up against the same response. Eventually I started organizing my own short term programs and found there was a huge response by others to join me. Once I was able to live on the income from my spouse, I left prior work and set about creating these experiences full time.

Globe Aware' s objectives are two-fold. One is to promote cultural awareness; essentially to allow the participant to get a more complete understanding of the real beauties and challenges faced in a different culture, rather than just a tourist, post-card view. The other goal is to promote sustainability, which is to say to help people stand on their own two feet. To that end, we work side-by-side with locals, as equals, working on projects that are important to them. They choose the projects, the materials, and how we go about doing it. The experiences are all one week. not because that is the ideal amount of time to spend to get to know a culture, but because it is what is feasible for most North Americans. I am frequently asked if working with the Peace Corps for 2 and a half years might not be a better experience. Of course that length of time will give you a much deeper comprehension and allow significantly more time to make a meaningful contribution.

My hope is that our one week experiences light the lamp of inspiration for participants to want to come back and discover and give back to more and more cultures. We have programs in 17 countries around the world and are always expanding. In Cambodia we assemble and distribute wheelchairs for landmine victims, in Peru we build adobe lorena stoves that greatly reduce deforestation and decrease smoke inhalation inside the home, in Guatemala we install concrete floors in the homes of single mothers, we have built schools, homes, hygiene stations, the spectrum is large and each program is very different. We spend about 40 hours a week working, and still have 3 to 5 planned but optional cultural excursions. We purposefully do not work in orphanages. A quick google about "orphanage tourism" will explain why. We do, however, work with and for needy children in many of our programs. It' s a wonderful, organic learning process.

Occasionally people will ask if it' s really a good thing when volunteering abroad benefits the volunteer. Our feeling is that is a full 50% of why we exist " YES! To expand the minds of the volunteer so that they understand the real challenges of the world and return home reinvigorated to make a difference and continue giving back. While we definitely want to provide for those in need, we are not heroes. We are not coming in to save the world. Usually the locals are faster and better at every activity we take on, which in itself provides a wonderful learning experience. The goal is that our work benefits the community where we are working and the volunteer doing the work. I think it' s critical that in order to be a really involved, successful person, one should also be a globally aware. citizen. We want more people who are able to care about the globe, who are trying to help find resolutions, on a global scale, to conflicts that are im­portant, whether it' s political peace or bringing groups and different nationalities together to find a solution to problems that we all face.

Last but not least, participating in a travel abroad program can be a huge source of joy for someone for their whole life, to have those wonderful moments of cultur­al understanding.

Everyday Ambassador

Globe Aware partners with EA

Globe Aware is pleased to announce a partnership with Everyday Ambassador, a best-practice network of global citizens and organizations that believe that human connection, even in an increasingly digital world, is the key to lasting, positive social change.

April Wrap-Up: Updates from Our Partners

EA-logo-500Today' s post marks the third post of a new initiative: the last Wednesday Wisdom post of every month will be dedicated to announcing updates from our experiential partner organizations. Due to technical errors this post is being featured today. See what each organization is up to, whether it be a new initiative, a star volunteer, or an exciting new program, below.

Also a special shout-out to organizations who are working with their partners on the ground in Nepal to rescue and rehabilitate those who have been affected by last week' s tragic earthquake.

New Partners:

We are proud to announce two of our newest experiential partners, Globe Aware and Global Citizens Network! Both are committed to promoting culturally responsible leadership for participants who are interested in giving back in a responsible way. Read a little bit about both of them below!

Globe Aware

Globe Aware is a nonprofit that develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments that encourage people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back. The mission of Globe Aware' s volunteer trips is to promote cultural awareness and create sustainability. For GlobeAware the concept of cultural awareness means to recognize and appreciate the real beauties and real challenges of a culture, but not to change it. The concept of sustainability is to help others stand on their own two feet and to teach skills rather than reliance.

9Globe Aware recently launched their newest program to South Africa, in which volunteers will help to improve and maintain local homes and schools throughout the community. Projects include replacing roofing, home waterproofing, and installing concrete floors. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to participate in community and school activities such as soccer, volleyball, and Physical Education classes. GlobeAware is very excited about the South Africa program and looks forward to watching the community thrive. Globe Aware is also excited about announcing the launch of its Cuba Program for this summer as well!

Globe Aware has also been participating in an amazing social media campaign through FLOAT (For The Love of All Things), through which they are selling designed limited-edition shirts. For each t-shirt sold to Globe Aware, FLOAT will donate $8 for every shirt to promote sustainability in communities Globe Aware serves abroad.

Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Globe Aware' s founder, had this to say:

"South Africa took the proud step to end apartheid more than two decades ago; we are delighted to see volunteers working in partnership with locals to help bring the vision of a better future to all South Africans. We welcome you to come and be a part of it."

Everyday Ambassador

Make more of your time off

Writing for the Dallas Morning News, Lynn O' Rourke Hayes, editor of familytravel.com, offers suggestions on creating a family bucket listy with meaning.

Make your time off mean more

Are you creating your family travel bucket list? Here are five things to consider as you put yours together.

  1. Let your values lead the way. Ask yourself what aspects ' geographically, spiritually and culturally ' of the world you want to share with your loved ones. Then create your list of possible destinations and experiences accordingly.
  2. Share your heritage. Have you spent time in the area where you were raised? Have you toured the Old Country or explored your family' s genealogy? Time spent researching your family story and planning a trip to uncover more detail or to meet long-lost relatives can make for powerful bonding.
  3. Get back to nature. Head to the Galápagos Islands for friendly wildlife and stunning flora. Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, families can kayak, hike, swim and dive among sea lions, flamingos, blue-footed boobies, whales, dolphins and supersized tortoises. Learn about the fragile ecosystem and the dynamic geologic forces that forged the 12 major islands and numerous outcroppings.
  4. Make it multigenerational. Busy and geographically diverse families often choose vacation time for shared experiences. Join the mother-daughter team of Sarah Aciego, a distinguished glaciochemist, and her mother, professional photographer Mindy Cambiar, for their inaugural tour of West Greenland. The photo-hiking adventure offers a dramatic introduction to glaciers, icebergs, dog-sledding, indigenous life, arctic wildlife and fjords.
  5.  Give back. Make your family holiday about more than relaxing on a beach or museum-hopping in the city. Plan a volunteer vacation that helps those less fortunate. Teach English, read to children, paint a building or help plant a garden. Many resorts and cruise programs offer the opportunity to give back in local communities.

Self

Trips that will lift your earning potential

Writer Morgan Quinn looks at volunteer vacations for U.S. News & World Report and considers the career and résumé they may hold.

6 Vacations That Will Boost Your Résumé

These trips will give your earning potential a lift.

By Morgan Quinn

April 30, 2015

Game-Time-6891No matter how many corners you cut and airfare deals you score, taking a vacation is expensive. What’s more, many Americans avoid taking time off altogether because they’re worried how it will affect their careers. A 2014 Glassdoor survey found that U.S. employees only use only half of their eligible paid vacation and paid time off. A U.S. Travel Association study last year also found that nearly half of employees continue to check their work email when they do go on vacation.

What if you could take a vacation that would help your career – not hurt it? What if your time off added valuable skills to your résumé and even put you in line for a promotion when you returned?

A growing trend among American workers and recent college graduates is the volunteer vacation, where travelers work their way through various cities around the world, adding skills, learning new languages and boosting their earning potential. If you want to take some time off to travel this summer – while still working on your career – try one of these vacation ideas.

1. Learn a language. Taking language classes in another country gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture and hone your linguistic skills, both inside and outside the classroom. Classes and prices vary, but there are numerous programs that help foreigners study languages around the world, including French in Quebec City, Spanish in South America or Japanese in Tokyo. Whether you are learning a language from scratch or just brushing up on your skills, you’ll return home with a new section to add to your résumé and some real-world experience.

2. Volunteer on an organic farm. Do you want to get your hands dirty this summer? The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms organization links volunteers with organic farms for a unique work experience. In return for volunteering, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles and farming. WWOOF farms exist across the globe, from Argentina to Thailand.

The length of stay is negotiated between the host and volunteer, with visits as short as several days to as long as half a year. This is a truly one-of-a-kind experience for people looking to add organic farming and sustainable agriculture experience to their résumé.

3. Practice a trade. If you’re handy with a hammer or looking to get construction and contracting experience, there are a variety of opportunities to lend a hand to an organization in need of volunteers. For instance, Habitat for Humanity offers an international program that organizes volunteers to build well-constructed, affordable shelters for people living in poverty. Another organization, HistoriCorps, works with volunteers to restore historic sites on public lands throughout the United States.

4. Teach overseas. No matter what industry you work in, teaching is an impressive addition to your résumé. Plus, the huge availability of teaching positions across the globe means you can find a tenure that works for you. You can also choose whether you’d prefer to work with children, teenagers or adults.

There are overseas teaching programs like The English Camp Company, which organizes summer camps in Taiwan, Italy and Austria for kids ages 6 to 14. Volunteers have the opportunity to tutor campers in English, live with families and experience authentic local culture firsthand.

5. Conduct scientific field research. If you’re a science enthusiast or interested in exploring ways to make our planet more sustainable, this type of vacation is for you.

Earthwatch Institute expeditions send volunteers to do field work side-by-side with leading scientists. Volunteers work directly under the supervision of experts and get the opportunity to collect data and work as a full-fledged expedition member. Not only will you add an impressive and memorable experience to your résumé, you’ll help the world’s top scientists conduct research that makes our planet a better place to live.  

6. Work with animals. If you already have experience working with animals or are simply an animal lover, consider taking a vacation to volunteer at a facility that helps injured or abandoned animals. You can spend a few days or a few weeks giving hands-on care to furry friends who need your help.

For example, the Earthwatch Institute offers a weeklong trip where volunteers monitor threats to ocelots in Trinidad. The Pacific Whale Foundation sponsors a free program, Volunteering on Vacation, for Maui visitors who want to help protect the island’s rare and endangered species.

Just a word of caution: All these vacations may be in historic, beautiful or exotic locations, but they are definitely not a day at the beach – so be prepared to get down and dirty.

U.S. News & World Report

Homeless are individuals, not problems

Marilyn Jones, correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, examines a former police officer’s unique understanding and approach to homeless individuals in his Northern California community.

Robert Anderson sees homeless people as individuals, not problems

Because of the efforts of the former police officer, many people he came to know on the streets now have stable housing "  in a place and in a program he helped create.

By Marilyn Jones, Correspondent

April 17, 2015

After retiring recently from a 32-year career on the San Mateo, Calif., police force, Robert Anderson could be taking life easy, enjoying soft breezes on a tropical beach. But after decades working to find homes for chronically homeless people, he couldn' t just walk into the sunset.

Because of his efforts, many of the people he came to know on the streets have moved into stable housing in a place and in a program Mr. Anderson helped to create.

Robert Anderson
Robert Anderson (c.) stands outside The Vendome, a shelter in San Mateo, Calif., with manager Steve Carey (l.) and Richard Gilmour, a once-homeless man helped by Mr. Anderson. (Courtesy of Robert Anderson) San Mateo, Calif.

When he was a 19-year-old political science major at San Jose State University Anderson, who had grown up in nearby San Francisco, interned as a police cadet in the San Mateo Police Department. Coming from a middle-class background, he wanted to gain some street savvy, and he found the police work fascinating. Seeing people at their worst awakened in him a desire to try to make a difference. After he graduated from college, he entered the police academy and became an officer at age 21.

Almost immediately, he started dealing with homeless people and their many problems. He describes those days as feeling like being in the movie "Groundhog Day" " every day the same calls, the same complaints from property owners and merchants, the same hassles that the homeless had caused people who came downtown.

Since homelessness is not a crime, he was limited in what he could do. One woman, for example, adamantly refused to go to a shelter and lived for years on the same downtown corner. A juniper bush on the corner actually grew around where she camped out, nearly enveloping her.

But sleeping in doorways, urinating on private property, and public drunkenness are crimes. When Anderson arrived on the scene, the same scenarios took place: The homeless were arrested, followed by periods of incarceration and a constant drifting in and out of jail or prison. Anderson also felt stymied in his efforts to curb substance abuse, chronic alcoholism, and episodes of mental illness, which often meant his calling an ambulance to take a homeless person to the emergency room.

More and more he felt frustrated.

"On the street, I had to be reactive," he says. "People would say, " Can' t you do something?' I developed relationships with the homeless, but my toolbox was limited." Most often his only contacts with the homeless occurred as the result of complaints.

He began trying to learn who these homeless people were and how they had wound up in their situation. "These are real people," he says. "Each with their own stories and different journeys that brought them to living on the streets."

A colleague of Anderson, Barbara Walt, a local business manager and treasurer of the downtown business association, recalls contacting him repeatedly to do something about the homeless people on her business property. She would arrive at work in the mornings to find them asleep by the front door. Bottles lay strewn around, and the area had been used as a public restroom.

"But Robert treated these people with respect," she says. "He would always be a gentleman, was always kind to them. He cared about them, and he would look for a safe place for them to go."

By 2006, Anderson knew the homeless situation wasn' t going to be solved through citations, temporary incarcerations, and trips to the hospital. So, along with San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer and Byron Hudson, a case manager and social worker, he decided to try a new approach.

Typically, homeless shelters require that residents already be off drugs and alcohol, having completed a treatment program. Anderson and his colleagues worked to establish what they called the Homeless Outreach Team. They based their approach on the philosophy that housing is a basic human right, even for those still abusing alcohol and drugs. HOT joined forces with the city, especially the police department, and the Downtown San Mateo Association, as well as nonprofits such as the Shelter Network of San Mateo County.

"At the time, there were 28 full-time homeless people living in downtown San Mateo," says Nancy Bush, a senior vice president at United American Bank and Anderson' s colleague at the downtown association, which was receiving hundreds of complaints every year.

HOT members, especially Anderson, worked with each homeless person to get him or her into stable housing, Ms. Bush recalls.

In 2007, the city purchased The Vendome, a run-down 19th-century hotel. The city restored it, creating 18 rooms for residents and a communal kitchen.

"Robert' s compassion and sensitivity, as well as his ability to " meet people where they are,' made him extremely successful at getting the homeless off the streets," Bush says. "He was able to identify each individual' s specific needs and worked diplomatically to address their issues."

After the first residents moved into The Vendome, HOT conducted a study to track the results of the pilot project. The study found that once participants got settled in their new home and began receiving support services, the cost of their medical care and criminal-justice interventions was reduced by 85 percent. The number of police responses involving the homeless dropped in one year by 99 percent. Although alcohol abuse wasn' t eradicated at The Vendome, there was a dramatic decrease.  

Today, The Vendome provides apartments for more than two dozen previously homeless residents. Each has chores to do and a code of behavior to follow. Every resident has a private room and is responsible for its cleanliness and maintenance. One current resident has started a garden and grows vegetables served at meals.

For some, the housing is provided free of charge. But The Vendome uses a sliding scale based on income to determine a resident' s rent. More and more residents have been able to earn money once they' ve stabilized their living arrangements.

However, not every homeless individual at The Vendome becomes a success story. Sometimes an alcohol or methamphetamine addiction returns, and the person goes back to the streets and to his or her former life. Sometimes mental illness plays a role in keeping a person from adjusting to life at The Vendome. But the majority of residents become responsible and happy as they settle into their surroundings. Some find work, and some even move into their own housing, reunite with family, and begin living independently.

Since Anderson' s retirement, another police officer, David Johnson, has  taken over Johnson' s role with HOT and The Vendome.

But Anderson has no plans to leave San Mateo. He still walks the streets, especially the downtown area, supporting the efforts of Mr. Johnson. They meet for lunch about once a month, when Anderson provides updates on what he' s been observing.

Anderson also stays in touch with homeless people he' s known for decades. One formerly homeless man (someone Anderson used to arrest and take to jail) has moved out of The Vendome into his own apartment. Not long ago, he surprised Anderson by asking him to be in his wedding. Many of Anderson' s former arrestees even have his phone number and e-mail address.

Anderson is often asked if San Mateo' s  success story could be duplicated in other cities. He' s happy to speak about it, he says, but he offers a word of caution. "This worked in our city only because I had personal relationships with these people," he explains. "But it took a very long time."

Anderson' s colleague, Ms. Walt, continues to join him in monthly walks around the downtown area. "If you could see how he' s received wherever he goes, you would know what an ambassador he is for the city," she says. "He' s beloved."

Anderson says he feels the same way about San Mateo, the city he' s served for more than 30 years " and counting.
How to take action

Universal Giving helps people give to and volunteer for top-performing charitable organizations around the world. All the projects are vetted by Universal Giving; 100 percent of each donation goes directly to the listed cause. Below are links to three organizations that help those in need:

  • Globe Aware promotes cultural awareness and sustainability by helping communities prosper without becoming dependent on outside aid. Take action: Help the underprivileged in Romania.
  • Miracles in Action provides Guatemalans in extreme poverty with opportunities to help themselves. Take action: Provide a backpack and school supplies to a poor child.
  • Children of the Night helps rescue children from prostitution. Take action: Support the work of Children of the Night With Out Walls by providing activities, therapy, and support for mentally ill people.

The Christian Science Monitor

Voluntourism improves lives

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Jen Zoratti examibnes the impact voluntourism has on communities, lives.

‘Voluntourism’ opens eyes, improves lives

Volunteer tourism — or the more buzzy “voluntourism” — has been at the centre of much debate over the past couple of years.

Voluntourism improves livesOnce a niche in the travel industry, volunteer tourism is an area that has seen real growth as more and more Canadians are eschewing luxury resort vacations or European backpacking trips to build schools or teach English in developing countries. The profile of a voluntourist is usually young, middle- to upper-class and educated. Many of them are “gap year” students, taking a year off to go learn about the world.

On the face of it, it seems like a righteous act. What could possibly be bad about wanting to learn something about your global community and maybe help someone in the process? But, as travel websites of varying degrees of sketchiness offering “luxury voluntourism” — or, ugh, ‘honeyteering’ — proliferate, many critics of voluntourism are left questioning who this is really for. Do altruistic acts of voluntourism really help people who need it? Or are privileged people just doing it to pad their CVs/make themselves feel good? And are those things mutually exclusive?

Those questions were circling around in my head when I connected with Sarah Cullihall via Skype. Sarah is a 21-year-old University of Winnipeg business student who just concluded a months-long internship with Maya Traditions Foundation in Panajachel, Guatemala, and got in touch with me about the very cool work she’s been doing there. She doesn’t quite fit the profile of a voluntourist — she was doing an internship and she was there for more than a two-week vacation — but she, too, has thought about the voluntourism debate.

“One of my friends is a huge activist and we would argue about it all the time — is it good, is it bad,” she tells me, amid a cacophony of birds. “But I think with everything, there’s positives and negatives. But with (Maya Traditions), it’s so much more about support. When we look at other volunteer roles, it’s not like that. You’re in the ‘saviour’ role; you’re the North American that knows how to do things — and I think that’s so backwards. I also think it depends on why you’re doing it.”

Cullihall’s motivation was pretty pure. She fell in love with Guatemala during a trip last July, but was alarmed to learn more than half its population lives below the poverty line. Interested in exploring the ways in which business can be used to foster social change, she wanted to link up with an organization that shared those goals.

Founded in 1980, Maya Traditions Foundation is a fair trade social enterprise that supports skilled indigenous female artisans by connecting them to the international market and providing them with health and education services. The foundation now works in partnership with more than 120 artisans, composing eight self-governed artisan co-operatives in six rural villages. These women practise a variety of traditional techniques that have been carried down through generations, including backstrap weaving — a method used to create all manner of textiles — basket weaving and natural dyeing. With the support of the foundation, they are able to earn an income. And an income means independence — no small thing in a country plagued by domestic violence.

The women Cullihall met left an impression — women such as Mara Mendoza who, in addition to raising four small children on her own, is the president of one of Maya Traditions’ partnering artisan co-ops. Her role as president is to make sure her fellow artisans have enough work, their families are doing well and they are being fairly compensated for their labour.

“She, to me, is a depiction of a strong Guatemalan woman,” Cullihall says. Mendoza, like too many other Guatemalan women, was a victim of domestic abuse. Maya Traditions empowered her to leave her husband and take back her life. And now she’s helping others do the same.

For her part, Cullihall is returning to the U of W to finish her degree, and her experience in Guatemala has left her changed. She now wants to work with women and children in Latin America as part of a social enterprise.

While the average voluntourist won’t necessarily translate their experience into a career path, they will have their eyes opened to the issues faced by people who share their planet — and hopefully, they will be more empathetic people for it. If it’s done right with the right organization, a young person won’t just come out of it with a line for the resumé. They will come out of it a better person.

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.ca

Winnipeg Free Press

World-Positive Leadership

Writing for Huffington Post, Mark Horoszowski, co-founder of MovingWorlds.org, a global platform connecting people who want to volunteer their skills with social impact organizations around the world, examines how volunteer travel and corporate volunteering can benefit companies.

World-Positive Leadership Development Programs

What is one thing that the Kenyan Red Cross and Microsoft have common? A lack of access to the expertise and skills needed to grow and make a bigger impact.

getting-out-of-schoolIn both cases, this “talent gap” is slowing progress. Research proves that major companies, like Microsoft, have a lack of quality, globally-minded leaders AND that they recognize this as one of their biggest challenges. In the case of the Kenyan Red Cross, and other social impact organizations working to address last mile challenges around the world, the impact is more severe: nothing happens. This is especially alarming as these local organizations have the greatest potential to make an impact and create jobs, up to 80% in some economies. In fact, organizations like the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and the World Economic Forum share that this “talent gap” is one of the leading barriers to progress.

Social impact organizations suffer from a lack of access to skills. Here are just a few examples of common needs:

  • An accounting system before applying for investment capital or grants
  • An improved operations and supply chain plan to lower costs
  • A go-to-market launch plan for new products and startups
  • Photography, videography, design, and messaging to develop new business development collateral
  • An improved IT system to track healthcare data and trends of patients in remote areas
  • An information distribution system to provide relevant data to rural farmers

While the challenges facing Microsoft and Kenyan Red Cross seem almost impossible to link, there is actually a powerful connection that can greatly benefit both parties: When employees from multinational corporations volunteer their skills with social impact organizations, they develop skills and learn new insights that can benefit their company. In the process, they help tackle major challenges that help smaller organizations get ahead.

International Corporate Volunteering (ICV) programs that do this continue to demonstrate a positive impact for all parties. People grow as global leaders, corporations benefit by developing higher performing people, and field organizations grow faster. In a previous article on Huffington Post, Alice Korngold shared that these programs can actually deliver bottom-line benefits to multinational companies.

These types of “World-Positive Leadership Development Programs” are just gaining traction. We’re helping people engage on these on their own and through established corporate volunteering programs. To help people that want to pilot programs like this at their own company, we’ve released a free checklist to help guide you.

Surprisingly, it’s not that difficult to launch an international volunteer program. One program we support was started by two passionate individuals with just two years of work experience. Here are some simple steps you can follow to implement a program at your company:

1. Research Your Business Priorities

Look for bright spots within your organization that might benefit from international volunteering. Business units like leadership development, recruiting, marketing, employee engagement, product and innovation teams are a great place to start as they are looking to create outcomes that programs like this can support.

2. Network and Find Support

Look for a partner and/or team to join you in launching a program. Search within volunteer and travel-based networks at your company. Schedule regular meeting to discuss how you can best design a program within the walls of your company.

3. Create a Business Plan

For a program like this to grow at your company, it has to make an impact for the world and for the company. Clearly document how it will help the company achieve its goals, while also improving conditions around the globe. Tools like this free “business case in a box” can help.

4. Find a Senior Champion

Use your network and business plan to find an internal champion who can provide budget and/or share your plan to senior leaders. The right person at the right level can help get the idea in front of other decision makers to help influence adoption.

5. Sell, sell, sell

Even with a compelling business case it still takes time. Don’t give up, and keep selling until your company has adopted a program. This can be done by continuing to grow grassroots support from your peers, while also continuing to pitch to senior leaders.

6. Start small

If you can’t convince your company to start a big pilot, that’s OK. You can still independently by asking your boss for time off to volunteer, and then use that to start building the case for a more formal program.

With all the buzz around the benefits of volunteering and the well-documented needs of organizations that need skilled volunteers, the time is ripe to launch a program at your company that builds better leaders, while building a better world.

 

The Huffington Post

Be Part of the Solution

kimberly-hockadayGlobe Aware founder Kimberly Haley-Coleman was offered the opportunity to explain the attraction of volunteer vacations with Globe Aware to Perrault magazine readers. Kimberly uses her not-for-profit company’s Thailand destination to illustrate her points.

READ THE ARTICLE – CLICK HERE

Perreault Magazine