Here is a sampling of some of the great projects the Project Leaders of 2007 are leading. We had the chance to hear from a few folks at the Appreciation Happy Hour and we’d love to hear more! The creativity to carry out a great project seems endless. Please feel free to let us know about what you’re doing out there too!
Pam Johnson’s Project
Aaron von Flatern’s Project
I have been working with the United Way’s Hands On Central Texas group (HOCT, you may want to google them) to create a new volunteer project here in Austin. I don’t have a name for it yet. I will just call it the Auto Repair Project.
The issue is low income families and cars. My concern is that there are a lot of cars that do not run, cannot pass inspection, cannot be properly registered, cannot be insured, and/or cannot be sold. Least concerning is that these cars rust and become eyesores within already blighted neighborhoods. More worrisome are the single mothers struggling to get to work, get to the grocery store, get to their kids’ schools, etc..
I learned to repair my own vehicles growing up and as a young adult. I was 19 when I paid Firestone $800 (which turned into $1500 by the time I paid the credit card off) to complete a brake job that I later learned was well within my capabilities, and cost only $200 in parts. After that I did everything myself. Which is not to say I am an expert. But I can fix certain things — the key is to get over intimidation. The other trick is to consult the internet for advice.
I have proposed (and HOCT has said they are ready to get behind) a volunteer brigade of sorts, composed mostly of former and future beneficiaries (a la Habitat for Humanity), who along with trained and untrained outside volunteers, bring together: the know-how, labor, parts, and energy required to complete basic vehicle repairs and keep low income vehicle owners on the road and productive. In the process, the vehicle owners could build important skills (many of them highly marketable). They could also build self-confidence, make connections to other residents in the area, and of course they would commit to helping others do the same thing.
Go to http://austin.craigslist.org/vol/565622685.html to learn more
I wanted to catch you up on the progress of my project with Angelheart. The clothing closet is up and running, although we do have a little fine tuning to do and a few minor loose ends to tie up. What an amazing process this has been. After receiving the mini grant, we were accepted into the Pajama Program out of New York and just received our first shipment of pajamas yesterday. We’ve also had huge support from the community in terms of clothing donations to fill the closet. We are now targeting specific groups, i.e. church youth groups and college students to collect clothing appropriate for the mostly teenage children currently served at the shelter. A local bank has offered to accept clothing donations and gift cards and we are working on that project as well. I’ve also submitted a grant proposal to the Austin Community Foundation to fund the clothing closet with new clothes for a year.
And another totally unexpected relationship has developed out of the work we’ve been doing. Today I met with the Activities Director of Parmer Woods retirement residence. I dropped off a bin of socks for them to sort, some brochures for them to fold, and “ingredients” for Valentine’s baskets for them to assemble. They want to help us and, since these are jobs they can do at Parmer Woods, it works out perfectly. I’ve really concentrated on developing long term relationships with people, so the shelter can sustain the progress we make. Gina Lafler, the Activities Director, also talked about joining the two groups for Ice Cream Socials and game nights. She would also like the kids to visit the center. And the residents may bake the kids cookies in the future. Can you believe that?? What an amazing support the residents could be for our kids, and I think our kids have a lot to offer these kind volunteers. Our seniors have such gifts to share and are an untapped resource in our community. I’m thrilled to see these two groups come together.
Go to http://www.angelheartshelter.org/ to learn more.
Upcoming Volunteer Project Certification Dates:
Saturday, March 15
Connection with Special Event
(Earth Day & Spring Day of Caring)
United Way Capital Area
Tuesday, April 8
George Washington Carver Museum
Wednesday, May 14
Austin Groups for the Elderly (AGE) Building