2014 Guide to Spring Volunteer Opportunities

Spring brings many wonderful things… chirping birds, growing flowers, and all the “stuff” that has been buried under the snow all winter. OK, that last one may not be so wonderful, but it gives us a great opportunity to work together to clean up our community. And while we’re at it, we can clean out our homes and find items to donate to those in need, too!


Download your copy of the 2014 Guide to Spring Volunteer Opportunities today to connect with opportunities throughout the community. You’ll find one-time and ongoing opportunities, special events, group projects, and much more. Whether you want to help seniors, youth, animals – or you want to do something at home – you’ll find a way to make an impact.

I Volunteer Card small for web

New This Year! All volunteers are eligible to receive an “I Volunteer” card, giving you access to discounts at Twin Cities businesses throughout the year. If you participate in an opportunity you find in the guide, email Rachel Jackelen (rachel@handsontwincities.org) and tell her what you did. She’ll send you a card you can start using right away! For more information about “I Volunteer” cards, check www.handsontwincities.org/thankyou

Download your copy of the Spring Guide here.

New Sector Alliance: Providing High Quality, Low-Cost Talent for Nonprofits

Today’s guest post comes from Brian Garshelis, Program Manager for New Sector.

Are you looking for a cost-effective way to secure top talent? Looking to increase your organizational capacity?  If so, consider a partnership with New Sector Alliance.


What is New Sector?
New Sector is a nonprofit organization focused on building talent for the social sector. To do so, New Sector matches early career professionals (Fellows) with nonprofits to complete a capacity building project. Throughout the program, Fellows are supported by training, mentorship, and coaching to give them the skills and support necessary to complete effective projects and prepare them for long-term careers in the social sector.

Since 2001, New Sector has matched more than 1,000 emerging leaders with social impact organizations in Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. We are now exploring launching a Twin Cities program starting in September 2014.

Why partner with New Sector?
In part because of our relationship with AmeriCorps, we’re able to offer top talent to organizations for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time staff member. Organizations can focus on getting their needs met while outsourcing the professional development and support to us. The result is both an increase in capacity for the organizations we serve and a social impact talent pipeline.

Hammock 7.31.13Why is New Sector looking to expand to the Twin Cities?
New Sector has for some time looked toward the Twin Cities as an expansion site. The Twin Cities have the highest rate of volunteerism of any major city in the country and is home to more than 200 colleges and universities, making it a natural location for young professionals committed to the social sector to pursue careers. At the same time, the Twin Cities has a strong nonprofit community poised to benefit long-term from capacity building support.

Now, a tenured New Sector Program Manager, Brian Garshelis – a native Minnesotan – is moving  back to the Twin Cities. We’re looking forward to joining the Twin Cities community!

How do organizations get involved?
Visit www.newsector.org to learn more about partnering with New Sector. Or contact our Program Manager in the Twin Cities at bgarshelis@newsector.org.

Youth Advisory Board Member Receives Leadership Award for Service Learning Work

Chetana photo

HandsOn Twin Cities Youth Advisory Board member Chetana Guthikonda recently received the Connecting With Kids student leadership award for her service and social entrepreneurship work. Stemming from her 10th grade Passion Project, a part of Edina High Schools’ curriculum combining independent study and service learning, Chetana designed and developed a prototype water filter in conjunction with Hyderabad Unlimited in India.

Chetana has brought that same passion for social entrepreneurship and international service work to the HandsOn Twin Cities Youth Advisory Board. As part of the YAB’s Global Youth Service Day efforts, Chetana is planning a project at her school to create Braille books, which will be donated to a home for the blind in New Delhi, India. Students in EHS’ special education program will write short story books, and will be translated into Braille by elementary school classes in the district.

Aligning with her commitment to making technology “simple, sustainable and affordable” for the developing world, Chetana has conceived a way to “print” the books using special tacks to create the bumps. Chetana’s innovative project idea involves youth voice and leadership at every level, including from youth who are not often asked to serve.

For more information on Chetana’s water filter project or the Connecting with Kids Student Leadership Award, please check out this article from EPS.

Please check our website for more information on the HandsOn Twin Cities Youth Advisory Board, or contact jenni@handsontwincities.org.

Explore Food, Culture, Nature, Technology and More at Phyllis Wheatley Community Center

The Impact Now program is a calendar of service projects organized by HandsOn Twin Cities. Each project takes between 1-3 hours, requires no advance training or ongoing commitment, and is led by a HandsOn Project Coordinator. Projects happen at a variety of nonprofit organizations throughout the metro who have requested volunteer support for everything from serving meals to sorting donations to reading with children.


Dream, Explore Connect! and Homework Help at Phyllis Wheatley Community Center

Looking for an opportunity to inspire, engage and educate youth through fun and creative projects? Then check out Phyllis Wheatley Community Center in Minneapolis! Monday through Thursday afternoons and evenings, PWCC offers tutoring along with a variety of classes that focus on arts, science, life skills, and more! Each class goes on a special off-site field trip and works on completing a final project. Sign up with friends, learn new skills, and meet new people in a fun and safe environment!

On Mondays through Thursdays from 3:30PM to 5:30PM, volunteers at Homework Help assist students in grades K-8 with homework in the after school drop-in tutoring program. Volunteers lead games and activities with students who finish their homework early.

The Dream, Explore, Connect! program offers free evening activities on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00PM to 8:00PM. Classes are open to any student (grades 4-12th) in the neighborhood.

“Dream Explore Connect is an awesome, laid-back yet productive and structured after school program for middle schoolers. There’s a reason so many of them have been in the program for years. We’re always looking for more volunteers because the more positive role models and one-on-one help the kids get with their hands-on learning projects, the better their experience is! “  – Impact Now Project Coordinator, Rachel Pelham

Activities Include:

Active Chefs: Top Chef Series– Mondays 6-8pm (4-8th grade)
Would you like to learn new recipes and cooking skills while making yourself nutritious food at Phyllis Wheatley? We will mix and match evening fitness activities in the gym and adventures in the kitchen cooking up a storm. This session’s theme will take students through a series of competitions to learn about food, fitness, and healthy habits in Top Chef style.

French Around the World- Tuesdays 6-8pm (6-10th grade)
Did you know that French is spoken by 223 million speakers of French in the world and that French is spoken in a total of 54 countries? In this class, we’ll search the globe for these French-speaking countries while learning a little bit of la langue française and exploring their cultures through food, movies, and music!

Urban Birding with 4-H – Mondays 6-8pm (6-9th grade)
Learn and explore how to be a citizen scientist! We will investigate and observe birds right in our own backyards and creatively present our findings at the University of MN. This is a great opportunity to work with scientists around the State! **GIRLS ONLY**

Community Technology Investigators (CTI)- Thursdays 6-8pm (6-10 grade)
Let’s use technology to explore some of the issues that our community faces! We can explore things like where to get food, the importance of keeping the neighborhood clean, and who has access to computers and the internet in their homes. We can then add our findings to the Phyllis Wheatley website, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and Vlogs! **BOYS ONLY**

Girl Scouts/Fashion, Design, and Entrepreneurship – Thursdays 6-8pm (4-8th grade)
Are you interested in fashion, art, design, or business? Use your creativity and develop new skills to help create a fashion line, brand, and logo as a group. Students will make a variety of items and promote them online!

To sign up for these or any other Impact Now projects, please visit the Project Calendar page on our website.

Introducing the 2014 Be The Change Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2014 Be The Change Award winners, announced last month at our Volunteer Expo. Award winners are honored for going above and beyond in making an impact on their communities. We were thrilled to meet all 4 of these amazing volunteers. Honorees received a certificate of thanks, and nominating nonprofits were awarded a financial donation on their behalf. 


Judy Olhoft, Kids ‘n Kindship

Judy has been a volunteer mentor for 3 years to a girl who is almost 14 years old. As a mentor, Judy connects with her mentee every week for fun and enriching activities such as cooking together, doing crafts or scrapbooking, ice skating, bike riding, helping with homework and more. Judy is unique in that she is always looking for ways to help her mentee. She has attended webinars and trainings in order to learn more about how to help her mentee to achieve her goals and thrive. She has spoken with her mentee about what she wanted her life to look like and together they made a plan to make progress towards her long-term goals to have a family, a house, a job in a pastry shop, a business management degree, & a pastry chef degree. In the words of nominator Ingrid Henry, “Judy is a fantastic role model for her mentee and for other mentors!  We couldn’t ask for a better volunteer!

Jesse Flanagan, Mano a Mano International 

Jesse gave over 170 hours of his time to Mano a Mano in 2013. He has gone 3 times a week to pick up orthopedic supplies that would otherwise be thrown away. Instead, these supplies have been shipped to 141 rural health clinics in Bolivia, providing desperately needed, quality health care to rural residents. At the same time, he has saved these items from ending up in MN landfills, making his impact felt both locally and globally. Jesse puts in hours at Mano a Mano’s warehouse organizing boxes, painting walls and cleaning, and he takes on every job with a smile. He is also a fluent Spanish speaker, and his translation work has improved efficiency in programming for the organization. According to nominator Dana Dallavalle, “Jesse’s enthusiasm for the work Mano a Mano does inspires our three-person staff to work even harder in his honor. He’s a true asset and will make this world a much better place.”

Carolyn Roberts, Tamarack Nature Center

Carolyn has been volunteering with Tamarack Nature Center for 3 years, and is approaching 700 hours of service with them. As the Lead Volunteer in the area of Animal Care and Handling, Carolyn not only works on the front line – providing proper care for educational animals, such as turtles, snakes, salamanders and owls – but she also works behind the scenes to train and supervise 15 other volunteers. Carolyn has an innate sense of the curiosity of kids, and is always ready to share with them. If a turtle is ready to eat, or a snake is shedding its skin, Carolyn is there to make sure that everyone gets a chance to experience the special moment. In 2013, when Tamarack Nature Center was without a consistent volunteer coordinator for 6 months, Carolyn made sure animals were cared for, volunteers were supported, and visitors had a wonderful experience at Tamarack. Nominator Melanie Harding tells us “Carolyn is a remarkable person, a model volunteer, and a great example of someone who is making the world a better place.”

Yohanis Shitta, Lino Lakes YMCA (Outstanding Youth Volunteer)

Yohanis has been a participant in Lino Lakes Y programs for several years, and was a founding member of their Leaders Club. He has been president of the Leaders Club for the last year, and under his leadership, the group has doubled in size and increased its annual volunteer hours from 250 to over 650. Nominator Sam Alley says of Yohanis, “He is a true leader in our community and we appreciate all of his hard work.” 

Understanding Volunteer Recognition


Sometimes, a simple Thank You is enough.

Celebrating volunteers is a vital component of any volunteer program and meaningful appreciation is key for productive volunteer collaboration. In 2012, volunteers alone contributed 165.3 million hours and $3.7 billion worth of service to Minnesota’s economy according to the Corporation for National & Community Service. With an approximate 37% volunteer rate, the Twin Cities metro consistently ranks #1 among large metro markets in the nation as Minnesotans continue to devote their time to tutoring youth, distributing food and clothing, and volunteering in another hundred different ways.

These volunteers come together every day to build and shape the community, and with them they bring their own diverse stories, experiences and motivations. They volunteer because they find meaning in action, and they choose YOUR organization because they see the difference you make. They understand the value of the service you provide, and they want to add to that impact.


While many volunteers would still show up to make care packages and read to children whether they were recognized or not, offering a token of your thanks is one way to show them that you understand their value, as much as they understand yours.

How will you celebrate? National Volunteer Recognition Week is April 6-13, and we encourage you to celebrate your volunteers in whatever way will be the most meaningful for them. Whether you decide on ‘Thank You’ cards or go with the big banquet instead, showing your volunteers they are appreciated is important in order to retain their services and ensure they continue to feel their work with your organization is valid. Ultimately, it is up to the organization to convey that acknowledgement in whatever form they feel is appropriate.


At HOTC, we have developed a low-cost way for you to show your volunteers that you appreciate their efforts. With the gift of an “I Volunteer” card, you can make things a little easier for your volunteers, the way they have made things easier for you!

Local businesses are excited to honor volunteers by offering various discounts and special promotions to individuals that show their “I Volunteer” card at participating locations. A list of current offers and schedule of promotions can be found on our discounts page, which will be regularly updated as we add new partners throughout the year.

Interested? Visit our website for more details on pricing and to place an order for your volunteers. Contact Lorna Proctor at lorna@handsontwincities.org with questions.

HOTC Project Coordinator Spotlight: Mathew Beaulieu



Name: Mathew Beaulieu
Project Coordinator Since: January 2013
Project Coordinator For: Bedtime Stories

Project Coordinators are volunteers who lead projects in HandsOn Twin Cities’ Impact Now program. Impact Now projects are open to anyone who wants to volunteer – come once or to as many as you like!


Tell us about the project you lead:
Bedtime Stories is an organized (yet, shall we say, somewhat fluid) play time for children ages 3-11 at the Maplewood Family Service Center. We provide a safe and fun atmosphere for children to express themselves through a variety of activities that the volunteer group decides to support on a given evening. We also provide value in giving the parents a bit of time to themselves, while knowing that their children are safe nearby.

Why did you become a Project Coordinator?
Ever since I was a kid, I have enjoyed helping those around me. Even when times seem impossible, I try to stay positive and I try to make a positive impact on those around me. In 2012 someone recommended that I look in to HandsOn Twin Cities as an organization that could help connect me to projects where I could dedicate time, and through which I could learn more about the non-profit industry in the Twin Cities. I was lucky because at the time there was a Project Coordinator opening, so I eagerly contacted HandsOn and I have been having fun ever since. 

Why do you volunteer through HandsOn Twin Cities?
HandsOn Twin Cities provides a wonderful venue where I can look for relevant opportunities around me, in my neighborhood. Each event is unique, fun, and is a great way to make a positive impact in the community!

What is your favorite part of being a Project Coordinator?
My favorite part has to be the quiet smiles that people share. Whether it is the gentle ‘thank you’ and shy smile during a family dinner, or it is the smirk of a little one after a great coloring session (where lines are more of a suggestion than something to be followed); the small, sometimes unspoken tokens of thanks are huge.  

Memorable moment at your project:
It’s fun when there are project participants who recognize a fellow volunteer (or me!) from a previous month. Similarly, it’s neat to see volunteers sign up a second (or third) time to join the same event. I like to think that means that the activities that we organize are fun, engaging, and sought after — both by volunteers as well as people in the communities that we serve.  

Advice to someone new to volunteering:
Sometimes it is tricky to know where to start. There are so many different types of opportunities on the HandsOn Twin Cities website to choose from that one could spend hours looking through them all. Generally there are a few events that fit perfectly with a person’s schedule/talents, which helps folks to get started. I enjoy volunteering because it challenges me to do new things while helping others. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, feel good about making a contribution, and it is a wonderful way to get out there to experience something new.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering?
In the summer, I am an active beekeeper and I work on trying not to get stung [often]. During the winter, I can generally be found indoors tinkering on my computer, or socializing with friends and family.

Favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities:
The Twin Cities has a lot of great art, music and culture. I was born and raised in Minnesota and have lived abroad, but I still enjoy the diversity that the Twin Cities has to offer.  

Who is your service hero/role model?
One of my mentors in boy scouts, Steve Mathews. One of my fond memories of him was when he drove us [hours] to camp, while he had us listen to terrible music. On this trip, he stopped in the Badlands for less than two minutes while we all ran out of the car, snapped a picture, and got back in to the car to continue the trip. His humor was strange, yet he put fun in everything he did, and he was an extremely engaged, yet respectful individual. Steve ended up mentoring me during my Eagle project and I will always look up to him.

Your hidden talent:
I’m really good at getting lost. Seriously, I have no sense of direction. The internal compass isn’t broken, it’s just always wrong. I like to say it’s all about adventure, but if that is the case, I would have more adventure in me already than Indiana Jones. Eh. I always get to the places I’m going. It’s just always via rose bush and scenic route.

Favorite quote:
A nice Irish blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

To volunteer for this project or others like it, check out our Impact Now program. To find out more about becoming a Project Coordinator, click here.