2011 National Conference on Volunteering & Service

By JoAnn Schinderle, Community Networking Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities

 The National Conference on Volunteering and Service is generated by Points of Light Institute and the Corporation for National and Community Service. This annual event highlights the importance of service and pays tribute to countless hours of volunteering  and the impact those hours have on individual communities and the nation at large. This year, the world’s largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from the nonprofit, corporate, and government sectors met in New Orleans to attend panel sessions, workshops, exhibits, and partake in meaningful service projects.  Attendees were joined by an inspiring lineup of speakers, award winners and other special invited guests including civil rights activist Ruby bridges, media personalities Deborah Roberts and Soledad O’Brien, comedian John Oliver, political commentators James Carville and Mary Matalin, and many others.

HOTC’s Associate Director, Zeeda Magnuson as well as two HOTC AmeriCorps members, Andrea Donahue & Erika Dani, attended the conference this year and were asked to share a bit about their time spent in New Orleans.

Zeeda Magnuson, Associate Director, HandsOn Twin Cities

Have you attended the conference before? If so, how do you feel this year differed from previous?

My first national conference was the one held in Minneapolis in 2001 (The International Year of the Volunteer), then again two years ago in San Francisco and now, New Orleans.  The most beneficial aspect of the conferences (for me) is the networking that takes place.  Bringing people together with similar missions and visions for their communities is very inspiring. 

Where there any re-occurring topics/ themes from the workshops that you can take away and implement?

Every session I attended, I was able to take away at least one nugget of info that HandsOn could share within one of our workshops, or an idea that we can implement.  I really enjoyed the general sessions, hearing from people like Ruby Bridges, James Carville and Mary Maitlin.  It was a treat to hear their stories, and how volunteers have made such an impact on what they have seen accomplished in their lives.

How do you believe this conference is beneficial for volunteer and volunteer leaders from across the country?

I keep going back to the importance of the networking opportunities.  And, just feeling and seeing the energy around this conference and the people that bring it to life.  It is a remarkable opportunity to learn from each other.

Anything else to add?

I was very proud to be in attendance as a representative for HandsOn Twin Cities’ being named an Innovation Hub.  Only 10 action centers from across the Network were chosen this first year.  I am looking forward to what we will learn from this process and then in turn, what we may offer the entire Network through our discoveries, new programmatic offerings and impact within the Twin Cities community.

 Andrea Donahue, Nonprofit Outreach Coordinator, HandsOn Twin Cities

You won this trip by completing a GetHandsOn Challenge, what   project playbook did you complete? Please describe.

 Erika Dani and I actually combined two playbooks in one.  We developed a Mock Interview & Resume Day at CAPI, one of our new basic affiliates.  CAPI is a social justice and anti-poverty organization that was originally founded to support Asian refugees.  It offers a range of programs including job assistance, which made it the perfect locale for our project.  Due to the project’s success (and Erika’s diligence), it has become a regular Impact Now project at HOTC.  I think the Mock Interview & Resume Days are extremely important, not only for the job readiness help but also for the emotional morale of job seekers.  The job hunt can be a very discouraging process.

What was your favorite workshop you attended?

The opening session was wonderful.  It was inspiring to feel such a great amount of energy and enthusiasm around service and instigating change in communities.  From speakers like Mayor Landrieu and James Carville, I learned a lot about the innovative environmental and educational initiatives being carried out in New Orleans.  As a recent college graduate, I was heartened to hear that my generation has played a major role in these efforts.  As Mayor Landrieu described, New Orleans is no longer a ‘brain drain’ and no longer attracts only young people interested in visiting Bourbon Street. 

 My other favorite session was an immersion experience that involved a trip to a community garden.  It was great to step out of the conference center and see a different neighborhood!

 Did you meet any interesting or influential people at the conference?

Congressman Richmond made a surprise appearance at one of my sessions.  He spoke about being approached by young individuals who ask him the wrong question.  They ask, “How do I run for office?” when they should ask him, “How can I most fully serve my community?”  He spoke about the impact his own volunteering experiences—years spent as an athletic coach and mentor—had on his decision to campaign. 

Anything else to add?

Thank you, HandsOn Network for the amazing experience! 


“ The 2011 National Conference on Volunteering and Service honored the individuals, organizations and programs that are proving that service solves problems. Now more than ever, people are at the heart of community change and must champion efforts in their communities to solve problems. Our conference theme “Champions of Service” recognizes that everyone can be a champion in their community by mobilizing the energy, ingenuity and compassion of citizens to lead the way for a better future.”- NCVS 2011 Recap

 If you’d like to be a part of next year’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, which will be hosted in Chicago, IL; you can find more information here here.

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