To help break through people’s apathy and isolation and encourage participation, ServiceNation has enlisted and trained some 30 “Change Agents,” who will reach out to local groups, forge networks and help organize events. At the heart of it all, a Change Agent believes in the power of citizens to change our communities and ultimately our world. Meet six:
Residence Wise, Va.
Profession At-home mother
Volunteer work Tutoring at an elementary school, volunteering at a domestic abuse shelter
Reason I live in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. It is a beautiful place but the mountains are being destroyed. I volunteer at the primary school because I want the young children to have a good start. I volunteer at the local food bank and there is a very great need in this region. I want to be a part of making things better.
What’s the best way to get others involved? I’ve been taught that the best way is just to lead by example; sometimes that just inspires people.
Hero My grandmother, because she saw that something needed to be done and she did it or she found someone to help her do it.
Favorite quote “Just do it.”
What do you do in your spare time? Gardening
Residence Dallas, Texas
Profession Development manager for nonprofits
Volunteer work Helps create a nature park in a low- and middle-income area of Dallas
Reason I believe it is especially important to involve the people most affected by poverty in creating solutions. They are the ones most keenly aware of existing needs.
What’s the best way to get others involved? Establish relationships; talk to people; get to know what their passions are and then open a door for them to make a contribution with the passion they have.
Hero Doers of small deeds that work quietly each and every day
Favorite quote “Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth—that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.” (Goethe)
What do you do in your spare time? Remodel a 1952 ranch house
Residence Minneapolis, Minn.
Volunteer work Participated in the Million Mom March, works with other moms on gun law changes
Reasons Doing service has empowered me to be a better person, citizen, mother, daughter, knowing that I cannot give up easily.
Favorite quote “Without a sense of caring there can be no sense of community.”
Residence Davenport, Iowa
Profession Freelance writer, part-time teacher at alternative high school
Volunteer work Americorp VISTA volunteer with the American Red Cross
Reason I’ve had many service experiences, but the one that had the most impact was the time I spent in New York following the World Trade Center disaster. It is a powerful thing to be able to come into a life after such an event and provide comfort, financial assistance and hope to others in such despair. I will be a lifelong disaster volunteer as a result and continue to volunteer in other causes I believe are important to building a better society.
What’s the best way to get others involved? To be excited about what you’re doing and let that show; share that with other people and they’ll jump on board.
Hero My father, Gandhi and Mother Teresa
Favorite quote “Work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt and dance like nobody’s watching!”
What do you do in your spare time? Gardening, camping, needlepoint and reading
Residence Oceanside, Calif.
Profession Information technology and grants administration; got a master’s degree last year in gerontology
Volunteer work Helping the Boy Scouts and Habitat for Humanity
Reason My first service experience was in the environmental movement of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. I was an older student and became very involved with disseminating information and getting others involved. It was an exciting and mind-expanding experience for me.
What’s the best way to get others involved? Have group events that attract people; talk with people about helping in the community.
Hero From Socrates to Jimmy Carter, anyone who’s doing good things
Favorite quote “Serving the needs of the many, not the greed of the few!”
What do you do in your spare time? Listen to Greek music and dance
Residence Elizabeth, N.J.
Profession Editor and project manager
Volunteer work “Skill-based” volunteering: working with nonprofits to organize and train volunteers to help with office work, produce annual reports—the necessary work that grants don’t usually cover but work that has to be done
Reason It’s a combination of giving back and using a skill set that nonprofits need.
Best way to get others involved ServiceNation is a good start—it’s a national campaign that focuses on recruitment and retention. Recruiting should be for skills that can really be used or have volunteers identify their skills and find a place to use them; retain volunteers by treating them as valued members of the staff.
Hero My mother, hands down. Her dining room table was command central when she was involved in a volunteer project. As a five-year-old, I would help by matching up pairs of donated socks.
Favorite quote “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou)
What do you do in your spare time? “What spare time?”