Meet Sandra, Volunteer ESL Tutor

Sandra, Mariana and Ernesto

Sandra teaching English to Mariana and Ernesto at Hamilton Family Center.

Meet Sandra.

Sandra always thought about volunteering. But she also thought she didn’t have the time.

After she found Hamilton Family Center through a search on VolunteerMatch, she realized just how easy it could be.

Now, she looks forward to her weekly tutoring sessions, in which she teaches kids ESL (English as a second language). “When I started, I was like, okay I have to drive more and I’m tired from work,” says Sandra. “But now, frankly I look forward to it, and sometimes, if I can come another day, I’ll make time to come, because I think when you give, you receive more.”

In particular, Sandra works with Mariana and Ernesto, two children from Guatemala. “Even though I’m just helping them a few hours,” says Sandra, “I feel like they’re going to have better lives because of Hamilton. And that makes me feel part of something important.”

In the short video below, get to know the amazing work Sandra and Hamilton Family Center are doing together.

To find your own perfect volunteer match, visit

3 Reasons to Give Your Time this #GivingTuesday

Give Your Time This #GivingTuesday#GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back, will take place on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Whether you’re a nonprofit engaging volunteers on #GivingTuesday, or an individual looking to give back, the following post (originally published on explains why “giving time” is a good idea.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “give”?

A donation of money? An act of kindness? A concession (i.e. “giving in” or “giving up”)?

How about volunteering?  

Across the country and across the world, people are giving back to their communities by volunteering their time. Why? Plenty of reasons:

1. Volunteering is Good for Your Health

Celebrate with VolunteerMatch Premium!In 2013, UnitedHealth Group conducted a study on the link between health and volunteering called “Doing Good is Good For You.” They found that volunteering makes people feel better physically, emotionally and mentally. 76% of participants reported that volunteering made them feel healthier.

You may be wondering how volunteering could possibly be related to health. One big reason? Volunteering lowers stress, which not only improves general health, but improves your mood. Which leads me to point number two…

2. Volunteering is Good for Your Happiness

Make your volunteers HAPPY!According to that same UnitedHealth Group study, 94% of volunteers report an improved mood from volunteering. And it’s not surprising. Volunteering can be fun.

Volunteering is a great way to meet others in your community with similar passions and get connected with your neighbors. Volunteering together with friends or coworkers can strengthen those relationships.

And beyond the fun, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose. By seeing how your actions are having a positive impact on your community, you’ll feel an unsurpassed sense of fulfillment.

At VolunteerMatch, we collect stories from our network of volunteers, and nearly every one is inspiring in some way. Becky, a volunteer at a hospice care facility, recently told us, “Other than raising my children, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything quite so meaningful!”

3. Volunteering is Good for Your Community

Older Americans "Get Active" By Volunteering for Older Americans MonthLet’s not overlook the obvious. People volunteer because they are needed in their communities. There is someone that needs help, a problem that needs to be fixed, or an improvement that can be made.

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, 85% of nonprofit organizations are entirely volunteer-run. Gina, who works at a no-kill cat shelter, said to us, “Without our volunteers, we would cease to exist.”

Furthermore, if you put a dollar amount to every volunteer hour, you would find that the amount of social value volunteers generate each year is astounding. Do you volunteer using your specialized skills? That number gets even higher. For example, $1.3 billion dollars of social value was created through connections made on alone in 2014.

Even if you have the means to give monetary donations this #GivingTuesday, consider giving your time as well. Working during the week? Volunteer the weekend prior, or the weekend after. While the exact date doesn’t matter, the act will carry you and your community to a better place.

To find your #GivingTuesday volunteer opportunity, visit VolunteerMatch.

Meet Louise, Animal Welfare Volunteer

Louise monitoring the animals at CuriOdyssey.

Louise monitoring the animals at CuriOdyssey.

Meet Louise.

Louise knew she wanted to volunteer, but didn’t know where. A VolunteerMatch search led her to CuriOdyssey, a wildlife center she had visited the previous year.

With her background in science education for children and her love of animals, it was a perfect match. Now, she enjoys keeping the animals happy and safe as an animal welfare monitor.

At VolunteerMatch, we make it easy for good people and good causes to connect. However, since these initial connections happen online, we don’t always get to see firsthand the impact of these numerous connections – the impact on the volunteers themselves, the organizations they volunteer with, and the communities they serve.

That’s why we went out into our community to see what volunteers who found their connections through VolunteerMatch (such as Louise) were up to.

In the short video below, get to know the amazing work Louise and CuriOdyssey are doing together.

9 Quotes to Inspire Your Volunteers (And Yourself!)

Guest post by Lesley J. Vos

Inspire Your Volunteers!Even the most devoted volunteers experience a lack of inspiration and motivation from time to time.

As a volunteer leader, it’s you who can change this. You can encourage your volunteers, engage and motivate them to grow, and become a source of inspiration!

There are many ways you can do this. What is one simple way? Sometimes the right words can perform magic, helping us reach new horizons and inspiring us to do good for others.

Share these awesome quotes to inspire your volunteers (and yourself next time your organization can use a little extra motivation!)

Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in the world all of your own.”
~Albert Schweitzer

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

You can study government and politics in school, but the best way to really understand the process is to volunteer your time.”
~Rob McKenna

Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
~Elizabeth Andrew

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
~Winston Churchill

“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.”
~Erma Bombeck

You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man.”
~Seth Parker

Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.
~Author Unknown

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”
~Oscar Wilde

Keep Calm and VolunteerDo everything you can to create an amazing, inspiring experience for your volunteers– and you won’t regret it.

Because isn’t it a true happiness to help others?

About the author: Lesley J. Vos is a blogger. She writes for Bid4Papers and many other websites, sharing her writing experience and helping others improve their writing skills. Lesley volunteered for Euro 2012 in Ukraine, and she had a background in volunteer teaching of French for Ukrainian students.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Catholic Charities Community Services

Linda Tailleart of Catholic Charities

Linda holding her CVA certification!

In the 1970s, Linda Tailleart taught students in a Michigan classroom. It’s here that she first began working with volunteers.

“Volunteer engagement became my passion,” explains Linda. Now, she’s the Director of Volunteer Services at Catholic Charities Communities Services in Phoenix, AZ.

“Volunteers make such a difference to our organization, community, and the people we serve, by sharing their time, talent and love which infuses Catholic Charities with energy and passion,” says Linda.

Managing the volunteer program at Catholic Charities is no small endeavor. The organization currently has at least 100 different volunteer positions, in over 20 different programs. Domestic violence, immigration, foster care, human trafficking – these are just a small sampling of the causes areas Catholic Charities works on.

Volunteer videographer at Catholic Charities

Keshia, a volunteer videographer capturing client stories for Catholic Charities.

With all of these programs and causes areas, there’s a lot of choices for potential volunteers. Volunteers fill roles from “Counseling Interns” to “Filing Ninja” to everything in between.

“My joy comes from helping a volunteer find just the right placement,” says Linda. “We want every volunteer to feel that s/he makes a difference!”

One cause area that is important to Catholic Charities is homelessness. They run 5 programs aimed to alleviate homelessness in Arizona. They do everything from offering a safe place to shower, to finding housing, to offering treatment to those who are homeless and also struggling with addiction and mental illness.

Linda explains, “When you’re homeless and isolated, a day can seem endless without another person to talk to. The LOFT Day Drop-in Center in Cottonwood provides air conditioning in the summer, heat during the cooler months and a great place to socialize, job hunt, and stay in touch with family by phone or email.”

Pat, volunteer with Catholic Charities

Pat, volunteer at Catholic Charities’ The LOFT.

One volunteer that stands out to Linda is Pat. Why? Before becoming a volunteer, Pat was homeless himself.

As a former air conditioning/heat technician from Michigan, Pat watched his 26-year-career come to an end after a back injury and then faced divorce after 26 years of marriage. Through a series of events, he ended up experiencing homelessness in his late 40s.

For Pat, loneliness was the worst part of experiencing homelessness. He worried about getting water and food, showering, figuring a way to move on with his life—but the lack of human contact felt maddening.”

“If you’re alone enough, especially if you’ve had some traumatic experiences, your mind can go to some dark places,” says Pat.

Living out of his car for eight months, Pat found his way to Catholic Charities’ The Loft, a day center reaching the homeless population in Cottonwood, Ariz. When he first arrived, it was difficult to assimilate back into society.

“I was closed off,” says Pat. “But then I got a support system and started meeting people, and it helped me to open up.”

He immediately used the shower, kitchen and laundry services. Staff helped him to come up with a plan, and in six months, he moved into an apartment. He also got support to address health issues. Then, he took another big step and enrolled in Yavapai College to start a new career in education.

Now, he also volunteers at The Loft to help others. “I like working here, because at one time, I was in the same situation as the people that visit here,” says Pat. “I know how much this drop-in day center helps people… I wouldn’t be surprised if this place has saved lives.”

Pat comes in early to start the coffee, turn on the computers, launder the towels and restock the bathrooms. Then, when people start coming in, he provides a friendly greeting and guides them to needed resources ranging from food to staff support.

“Usually, when people come here, it takes them about a month to warm up to people,” says Pat. “They don’t have much to say. But once they get connected, it becomes a community.”

Your story can help inspire others to get involved! VolunteerMatch collects stories about volunteering to help illustrate the challenges and successes of nonprofits. How have volunteers helped you? What role has VolunteerMatch played? Share your story!