Amanda Merz November 18, 2020 at 9:17 AM

How to help the Sacramento community on Family Volunteer Day (and every day)

Have you ever thought about how organized volunteerism began? Was it when families moved out of the city and into the suburbs and weren’t “volunteering” to help neighbors as often? Or when schools started to depend on support to enrich the learning experience?

My personal connection to organized volunteering goes back to Mary Harriman Rumsey, who in 1901 founded the Junior League. Harriman served the immigrants living on the Lower East Side of New York City in the College Settlement after she witnessed the challenges they faced. Knowing that her individual effort wasn’t enough, she created an organization where other women could unite and learn how to be civic servants.

Fifteen years ago, I found my calling in servant leadership through the Junior League of Sacramento. My passion and career merged in the development of a corporate citizenship model for SAFE Credit Union, which encompasses a volunteer program for SAFE employees.

The importance of service

Through our volunteer activities at SAFE, I’ve learned that volunteering together, whether with our co-workers or families, is a great way to instill the importance of service and “to celebrate the power of families who work together to support their communities and neighborhoods,” as the Points of Light organization puts it.

This year, SAFE is sharing our list of opportunities with all of you so you can participate in the 30th annual Family Volunteer Day this Nov. 21.

We are experiencing a time in our region where the need for support is greater but the number of volunteers has fallen due to the pandemic. The New York Times reported on Nov. 13, 2020, that two-thirds of all volunteers had either decreased or stopped volunteering all together. This has created a significant challenge to the organizations serving the increasing needs in our community. But we can be empowered through volunteering to help solve this.

So how can you help? As the wise Mary Harriman believed, first we learn, then we act. Read on for great ways to volunteer with your family, co-workers, or individually on Family Volunteer Day—or any time to support those in our community.

Let’s start with resources

Sacramento has several organizations that work with nonprofits to provide various volunteer opportunities.

DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies) Youth Volunteer Agency offers this directory list of nonprofits that welcome youths as volunteers.

HandsOnSacramento has an easy calendar to find opportunities.

TeamGiving’s mission is to connect volunteers, empower nonprofits, and strengthen communities.

A popular trend and a great way to support nonprofits and their missions is to volunteer virtually. You are still making a difference and spending time together as a family.

  • Create a virtual fundraiser for a local food bank. Feeding America can help you find a local food bank to support.
  • Write sunshine letters to seniors and hospice patients. We have two organizations in our region who coordinate these efforts to bring smiles to those who are the most vulnerable and isolated during the pandemic. Email Eskaton and Snowline Hospice for specific directions.
  • Citizens can feel very isolated and lonely especially during the holidays. Spread some holiday cheer by decorating their outside windows. Contact Eskaton for specifics.
  • Create a Holiday Craft Party in a Box for women and children in the Sacramento WEAVE program. You and your family would create craft kits for others to enjoy doing with their families during the holiday. Email Women's Empowerment  with your craft idea.
  • Create and display messages of hope. Many people are feeling alone and discouraged. Make family signs together and put them in your windows. A kind word goes a long way, and you will see smiles on your neighbors’ faces too. You may start a trend.
Share with us

Please share with us any volunteering you do. We love to know what our community is doing to support one another. Email me with your latest volunteering endeavors or tag us (@safecu) in your social media posts related to volunteering.

Learn more about how SAFE Credit Union serves our community.

Are you a nonprofit seeking volunteers? Email me to learn how SAFE can help.

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Amanda Merz

Amanda is the community and advocacy engagement manager for SAFE and is responsible for ensuring that the organization’s mission to give back is fully realized.