Tag Archives: Volunteer

Knoll Garden Hours-Looking Ahead to Spring!

Knoll Garden Volunteer Hours will begin the week of Monday, March 29 and be held on a fixed weekly schedule through the end of spring semester:

  • Tuesdays: 1-3pm
  • Thursdays: 11-1pm
  • Fridays: 11-1pm** and 2-4pm
  • Sundays: 9-11am**

**New this semester, the Friday and Sunday morning sessions will be reserved for folks who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color).

More info about Garden Volunteer Hours:

  • Signups are required in advance, and you can find the link later at go/knoll and go/knollhours
  • New this semester: signups will be released in two-week blocks, and go live for that block at 10am every other Monday morning
  • Due to incredible popularity last fall and in order to welcome as many folks as possible, we are asking everyone to limit themselves to six or fewer signups for spring semester
  • We are again offering PE credit for folks who attend at least 8 hours of garden volunteer time (four full sessions)
  • Not quite sure what to expect? There is detailed information in the signup description, and you can reach out to one of our friendly Knoll interns to chat. We warmly welcome all questions!
  • Spots are available only to students enrolled as in-person learners.

Some friendly general reminders about visiting the Knoll:

  • Please walk the safe route down to the Knoll, either via Bicentennial Way or down the hill next to the Ridgeline apartments. Please, please, please do NOT walk directly along Route 125.
  • Beginning Friday, March 26, portable toilet and trash/recycling receptacles will again be available
  • A few guidelines for the space: masks are required at all times, please stay on grassy paths (especially important in springtime), keep furry friends on leashes, and apart from the Grazing Garden, please leave the harvesting to us
  • Want more Knoll love? Check out MCOF for additional events and goings on this semester
  • Interested in hosting an event at the Knoll? You can read all about this process at go/knollevents. Please plan ahead!
  • Flower cutting flower season typically begins in July. There will be some early spring blooms at the Knoll, but please savor them in place to spread the love with other visitors
  • Thank you for being good neighbors to our farming friends, the Scholtens, who graze and manage as a livestock food crop some of the fields adjacent to the Knoll. Remember that fencing can be electrified and let’s leave plenty of space to not find out.

Interested in reading more about what went on at the Knoll in the 2020 growing season? You can read the full annual report here

Please pass questions along to Megan and/or a Knoll Intern and we cannot wait to see you out there.

Here’s to spring!

Megan and the Knoll team

The Relationship Between Well-Being and Volunteer Experience

Reflections from Middlebury College students and CCE AmeriCorps VISTA member. Written for Middlebury College Campus Well blog.

How does building meaningful relationships with others, especially through service, support our well-being? Many people have had some volunteer experience at some point in their lives and the common consensus is that it feels good–to do something worthwhile, to focus on others’ needs rather than our own for a change. It seems that we are all, on some level, aware of the psychological benefits that come from volunteering. 

Based on a study cited in the Corporation for National and Community Service, “[t]hose who give support through volunteering experience greater health benefits than those who receive support” (pg. 3). Indeed, the strong “connection between volunteering, social psychological factors, and social networks” has been captured in what is known as the “social integration theory” or “role theory,” (4). A person’s numerous social roles naturally bring about different social connections. To know our role–and to know that we have a role–within a community gives us a sense of purpose and belonging. 

Our first taste at volunteer work almost always includes these feelings of significance and satisfaction. Nathaniel, a Middlebury student, remembers his earliest experience with volunteering as a Scout Troop. The younger boys were called upon to help the older boys complete their service projects, with the promise of cookies and other treats in return. “As I grew older,” Nathaniel reflects, “ I didn’t need the food as a reward but sought the satisfaction of completion and significance… We did not directly interact with community members while working on the trails, but returning to the land to see people using our trails left me satisfied. I looked at a job well done, and saw how our project improved the land and people’s well-being.” Knowing that our work has a positive impact on the larger community no doubt makes us feel that we are doing something right and something very significant. 

Moreover, volunteering helps us create meaningful relationships with people we usually don’t interact with. In turn, we may find ourselves experiencing personal growth. Lauren, a Middlebury student coordinator of the student service organizations, found that she was saying yes to more opportunities because of her experiences with volunteering: “I’m always prepared and ready to take on a new challenge, and I like doing so. I think that quality stems from my time volunteering when I was younger.” 

 Besides being open to trying new, different things we may also experience a change in perspectives due to the people we meet. Lauren works with a number of student-led service organizations. To her, it has been inspiring to see how they work with the community at large and she feels grateful for being a part of a wonderful group of people. After all, the people we get to meet often makes the work we do even more worthwhile. 

Nathaniel, in working with the Charter House Coalition at Middlebury, reflects that guests he’s met there have changed his views and reconsidered his opinions on numerous topics. “I love meeting people,” Nathaniel continues, “and the townsfolk of Middlebury are different from Middlebury College students. I feel thankful, and a more complete person for having volunteered there.” 

Jilly, a recent Middlebury graduate and a current AmeriCorps VISTA Member, echoes Lauren and Nathaniel’s experiences of personal growth from volunteering: “Service helps me to look outside myself and my problems, while also growing who I am as a person,” she starts, “When done well, there is a reciprocal relationship, where I’m learning more about the systems in which I operate, the needs that exist, and where my place is to make a positive impact or even take a step back and allow others to chart their own course.” Service makes us realize that problems exist “outside [of ourselves” and this realization helps us become more in tune with the rest of our community and, at most, the world. This connection helps us grow as individuals, because it allows us to see our own place within a bigger system and realize where our help is needed and where they aren’t.  

With her experiences volunteering in her own community, within Middlebury, and abroad Jilly found “the importance of taking one’s time to listen to the would-be recipients of service, to see where [her] ideas match reality, and how to respond productively where they don’t.” Not only does this apply to service work that she does, it also can apply to how she thinks about her relationship with others. Jilly adds, humorously, “Does my sister REALLY want more of my hand-me-down stuff when she never asks for it? Or am I just too lazy to go to Goodwill or properly recycle it?” 

While volunteering creates a lot of room for personal growth, it is important to remember that volunteering is ultimately about other people. The common conception that volunteering is the “right thing to do” is not wrong, but service work involves more than that. The lessons we learn sometimes vary depending on the type of volunteer work we do. Jilly’s most impactful experience with volunteer work was with MAlt (Middlebury Alternative Break Trips), She went to San Antonio Texas to provide Spanish-language legal advocacy to asylum-seeking families being detained in private prisons by ICE. “The work was hard, rewarding and often heartbreaking,” Jilly reflects, “we were able to not only do our part effectively, but to process the difficult feelings that come with serving a serious need, while knowing that out role is one tiny part of a complex system that won’t change because of our service.” Jilly highlights a very important aspect of volunteering. 

While giving back to others certainly feels good, it is also very important to be aware of how much our work is helping others, if they are at all. We volunteer not because we want to feed our own feelings of self-importance. Rather, we volunteer to try to genuinely help others however we can–even if our impact is small. And being aware of our impact certainly helps us keep our intentions genuine and helps us practice some humility.

COVID-19 Volunteer Opportunities

COVID-19 R&D Database Project

Project Description: “We are building the most comprehensive and detailed database of vaccines and therapeutics for treating COVID-19 in the world so that everyone can be informed on the progress towards much better outcomes for patients in this pandemic. Our tech team is also building a fantastic website with visualizations to make the data engaging and informative. We are in need of people to help us research these products so that we can populate our database. This work would involve data entry and would require a careful, detail-oriented approach. Some background with biology and/or medicine is ideal for this work.”

–Mats Olsen, Project Leader of COVID-19 R&D Database Project

More information about the progress that has been made on this project, people involved with this work, and what kind of volunteers are needed can be found here.

Time Commitment: Each assignment consists of about 5 vaccines or therapeutics to look into and takes about 2-3 hours to complete.

How to get involved: If you are interested in helping with this research effort, please email Mats Olsen (matsaolsen@gmail.com) to receive your assignment of potential vaccines and therapeutics to investigate.

UV-C Light Cabinet to Decontaminate FFR Masks Project

Project Description: “The current shortage of filtering face piece respirators (FFR) might be alleviated if they could be reused by decontaminating them in a simple device (i.e. something that a DIY person could build and supply to hospitals, GP surgeries, etc.) There is evidence that a UV-C light cabinet might serve this purpose. This project seeks to develop such a cabinet using components from a variety of common sources, test its effectiveness for decontaminations against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and then produce instructions for its construction and use. In this way people subsequently using the cabinet can have higher confidence in its effectiveness than they would by just exposing their masks to some form of UV-C light for a period that has not been properly assessed.

The big challenge at present is finding a reputable lab to partner with so we can validate the design as safe. This is something that needs to be addressed as lots of people seem to be buying UV-C lamps for decontaminating their masks (see Amazon) but have no guidance about using them effectively.”

–Dr. Will Stott, PhD, Software Developer at Maximodex and leader of the initiative

A mockup of the UV-C cabinet design made by this team can be found here.

More information about the overall project can be found here.

Time Commitment: Flexible.

How to get involved: After contacting him to volunteer with this project, Dr. Stott asked to reach out to Middlebury students and form a group of those interested in participating. From there, these students will work together to make study designs and contact faculty members at Middlebury and together, this faculty-student group will help to conduct research to optimize the design and use of this UV-C bulb cabinet so that it can be used in the best way to decontaminate FFR masks. If you have any interest in taking part in such an effort, please reach out to me for more information.

Initiatives of the HMS COVID-19 Student Response Team

Project Description: This project was started by a group of medical students at Harvard Medical School who wanted to organize a response to the SARS-coV-2 pandemic. They describe their mission as follows:

“This student-led team first gathered on March 15th to rapidly develop an organizational structure to coordinate and augment the HMS student body response to COVID-19 in collaboration with the HMS administration, leadership, affiliated hospitals, and community partners. Currently, there are four overarching committees that are supported by hundreds of members across the student body. The structure will continue to evolve as the response grows. The Response Team embraces the principles of being adaptive, nimble, and inclusive for all initiatives that will optimize our collective impact as a medical student body.”

–HMS COVID-19 Student Response Team

Time Commitment: This depends on the project in which you get involved but is flexible.

How to get involved: While the Middlebury students who are reading this are (likely) not current medical students, after reaching out to the HMS COVID-19 Student Response Team, I was made aware that anyone who is interested can be involved in this response. To do so, visit https://covidstudentresponse.org and click on the “campaigns” tab. From here, check out the different initiatives that are being pursued. These range from community activism to a PPE initiative. Contact information for the student leaders of each initiative is available on that page, and these leaders can be contacted directly for more information about the projects and how to be involved.

Additional Opportunities to Volunteer

If you are interested in searching for other opportunities to volunteer remotely to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit https://helpwithcovid.com/projects and/or https://airtable.com/shr5QKQBdG2UIw4Ok/tblGh1k80hsOm716Q?backgroundColor=red&viewControls=on&blocks=hide&fbclid=IwAR15kivzNsPsuNCARsJQxmMv139mlN8ccG4ANxtx0vHL3Ut2bER1iL15as4f.

If you have any further questions, please reach out to me at tbraun@middlebury.edu.

-Tatum Braun

Help others from home through virtual volunteering

9 Places to Volunteer Online (and Make a Real Impact)

All you need to make a difference is an internet connection.

by Jackie Menjivar

Somebody somewhere is probably complaining about the fact that folks are spending more and more time online. But what they may not realize is that there’s a whole lot of good that can come from the internet, particularly through online volunteering.

Volunteering online lets you donate your virtual time to a cause space that matters, which means you can make a difference even if you can’t physically volunteer somewhere. Check out our list below to learn about a few different ways you can create IRL impact through online action.

1. United Nations Volunteers

If you’re looking to take your online volunteering worldwide, this is the place to start. UNV connects you with organizations working for peace and development in need of skills like research, writing, art, and design. There are already over 12,000 volunteers from 187 countries lending their talents to organizations around the globe.

2. Catchafire

This volunteer search tool is exclusively for online volunteer projects. Each one has a timeline that can range anywhere from an hour to a few weeks. So whether you have an afternoon or several, you can help not-for-profit with tasks like writing thank you letters or editing photos.

3. Smithsonian Digital Volunteers

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, but even they could use a little help sometimes. Help make their collections more accessible by volunteering online to transcribe historical documents or edit Wikipedia articles related to their artifacts and research.

4. Amnesty Decoders

Operated by Amnesty International, this network of digital volunteers helps conduct research into global human rights violations. Volunteers have used their phones and computers to verify the location of oil spills, find evidence of drone strikes, and flag abusive tweets to women politicians in India.

5. Translators Without Borders

For those fluent in more than one language, check out this nonprofit that combines language skills with humanitarian aid. Volunteers provide translations (10 million words a year!) to international organizations that focus on crisis relief, health, and education.

6. Crisis Text Line

Here’s a perfect example of technology being used for good. Become a volunteer to help the Crisis Text Line continue to offer free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. If you’re at least 18 and can commit to volunteering four hours each week, you can apply to be trained for free.

7. Zooniverse

Zooniverse is a platform for people-powered research that literally wouldn’t be possible (or practical) without the help of online volunteers. Spend as much or as little time as you’d like identifying endangered animals, classifying galaxy systems, or transcribing Shakespearean manuscripts.

8. Project Gutenberg

Founded in 1971, this may just be the virtual volunteering effort that started it all. The goal is to create the largest digital library, and so far they’ve amassed 59,000 free eBooks. Volunteer by donating eligible materials, transcribing books into digital form, or proofreading others’ work.

9. DoSomething.org

DoSomething empowers young people to enact social change online or off. Volunteer online through one of our campaigns to help solve real-world problems. DoSomething members have used the internet to successfully urge Apple to diversify their emojis, change the dictionary definition of “Black/black”, and create the largest crowdsourced anti-bullying guide.

Help others from home through virtual volunteering

9 Places to Volunteer Online (and Make a Real Impact)

All you need to make a difference is an internet connection.

by Jackie Menjivar

Somebody somewhere is probably complaining about the fact that folks are spending more and more time online. But what they may not realize is that there’s a whole lot of good that can come from the internet, particularly through online volunteering.

Volunteering online lets you donate your virtual time to a cause space that matters, which means you can make a difference even if you can’t physically volunteer somewhere. Check out our list below to learn about a few different ways you can create IRL impact through online action.

1. United Nations Volunteers

If you’re looking to take your online volunteering worldwide, this is the place to start. UNV connects you with organizations working for peace and development in need of skills like research, writing, art, and design. There are already over 12,000 volunteers from 187 countries lending their talents to organizations around the globe.

2. Catchafire

This volunteer search tool is exclusively for online volunteer projects. Each one has a timeline that can range anywhere from an hour to a few weeks. So whether you have an afternoon or several, you can help not-for-profit with tasks like writing thank you letters or editing photos.

3. Smithsonian Digital Volunteers

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, but even they could use a little help sometimes. Help make their collections more accessible by volunteering online to transcribe historical documents or edit Wikipedia articles related to their artifacts and research.

4. Amnesty Decoders

Operated by Amnesty International, this network of digital volunteers helps conduct research into global human rights violations. Volunteers have used their phones and computers to verify the location of oil spills, find evidence of drone strikes, and flag abusive tweets to women politicians in India.

5. Translators Without Borders

For those fluent in more than one language, check out this nonprofit that combines language skills with humanitarian aid. Volunteers provide translations (10 million words a year!) to international organizations that focus on crisis relief, health, and education.

6. Crisis Text Line

Here’s a perfect example of technology being used for good. Become a volunteer to help the Crisis Text Line continue to offer free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. If you’re at least 18 and can commit to volunteering four hours each week, you can apply to be trained for free.

7. Zooniverse

Zooniverse is a platform for people-powered research that literally wouldn’t be possible (or practical) without the help of online volunteers. Spend as much or as little time as you’d like identifying endangered animals, classifying galaxy systems, or transcribing Shakespearean manuscripts.

8. Project Gutenberg

Founded in 1971, this may just be the virtual volunteering effort that started it all. The goal is to create the largest digital library, and so far they’ve amassed 59,000 free eBooks. Volunteer by donating eligible materials, transcribing books into digital form, or proofreading others’ work.

9. DoSomething.org

DoSomething empowers young people to enact social change online or off. Volunteer online through one of our campaigns to help solve real-world problems. DoSomething members have used the internet to successfully urge Apple to diversify their emojis, change the dictionary definition of “Black/black”, and create the largest crowdsourced anti-bullying guide.

WomenSafe Volunteer Training

Application Deadline: Friday, September 13th
Training Dates: First training Tuesday, September 17th from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Congregational Church in Middlebury
WomenSafe serves people across the gender spectrum who are experiencing sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Volunteer your time, talents and energy for tasks like answering the hotline, speaking to community groups, assisting in planning events, or helping with administrative duties. Volunteer training only happens yearly, so if you have interest in a for-credit Winter Term internship (over J-term) or volunteering at WomenSafe during the academic year of 2019-2020, consider completing volunteer training this fall! 

This year, volunteer training starts on September 17th, 2019, and takes place over the span of three weeks. The dates are as follows: September 17th, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; September 19th, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; September 21st, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; September 24th, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; September 25th, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; October 2nd, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; October 3rd, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; October 7th, 5:30-8:30 p.m. All trainings will take place at the Congregational Church in Middlebury. Please plan on attending all or most training dates.

WomenSafe prefers applicants for their J-term (see Handshake posting) or summer internships who have already completed volunteer training. If you would like to attend WomenSafe volunteer training, please email info@womensafe.net for an application as soon as possible. Visit the website www.womensafe.net for more information.

Service in Action: Hear from a Panel of Current VISTA Volunteers 3/15 @ 5:30p in CCE

Service in Action: Hear from a Panel of Current VISTA Volunteers

Monday, March 12th at 5:30pm in the CCE Living Room

Interested in being a catalyst for change? AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers work with community leaders to fight poverty, develop job opportunities, increase access to education and housing, promote healthy living, and much more. During this session, you will learn about the AmeriCorps VISTA program, hear from currently serving members, and have the opportunity to ask questions about this 1-year nationwide experience.