Monday, July 22, 2013

Community Service, Unique

'Another story about giving love as well as giving back but also an idea to consider for mentoring groups...  The man in this video created his niche.  Could your mentoring organization create its own unique-to-its-community opportunity?  If not, volunteer as a group anyway!
Photos from the Huffington Post

"Homeless Pay for Hugs in Connecticut Town"

"Every Wednesday afternoon, 82-year-old Joe Cymerys gives haircuts to the homeless in Hartford, Conn. free of charge. Steve Hartman reports."
2:17   Ret. 7-21-13

"Anthony Cymerys, Connecticut Barber, Offers Haircuts To Homeless For Hugs" 

by Jessica Hill, 5-12-13

"HARTFORD, Conn. -- Each Wednesday, barber Anthony Cymerys sets up his chair in the shade of an oak tree in Hartford's Bushnell Park. For longtime clients, the homeless or those just down on their luck, the fee is always the same: a hug for a haircut.

The 82-year-old Cymerys, who is known as Joe the Barber, began offering his services 25 years ago after retiring from a career in business. He had cut hair for his family but decided to put his clippers to work for the less fortunate after being inspired by a church sermon about the homeless.
He wanted the homeless not to look homeless.

His clients line up on park benches, some of them also turning out for free meals provided on Wednesdays by a local church. One by one they take a seat in a folding lawn chair above a car battery Cymerys uses to power his clippers.

As he finished a trim on one customer recently, a loud squeal came from the battery. He gathered the mobile shop, connected the clippers to his car and picked up where he left off.

'It really is love. I love these guys,' Cymerys said. He paused and turned to his client in the chair, 'You know I love you, right?'

'That's what it's all about,' Cymerys said."
Ret. 7-22-13

Many nonprofit groups must have their "hands out" for money, time and in-kind donations in order to support their noble, helpful work but do not have large budgets for advertising.  Although in many religions, we are told not to advertise our own good works, we might be able to donate time to the community as well as highlight our organizations without too much expense.

What small but worthwhile community activity--unique to your group--could be held even once or twice a month or even once or twice a year?  Even if you have a limited number of volunteers, mentees, mentors or staff available during those periods, what could you quietly but consistently do that no one else is doing?  Think of the benefits to those who participate--bonding, teamwork, adventure, social skills, fun, etc.

Even if your group participates in community-wide volunteer projects, such as Habitat for Humanity or a Regional Food Bank, you and your mentees are still winners on multiple levels. 

Possibilities (Submit your own.):
1) Clean-up/Beautification Projects: 

Yard/bush/tree branch clean-up for an elderly person--someone different each time.

Pick up trash from a creek, park or along a road in your area.

Clean up (perhaps mow and trim) old cemeteries not maintained or infrequently maintained by a municipality. [Rubbings of old tombstones might be interesting, too, if time allows along with many lessons derived from reading the tombstones.]

4) Identify something in your area that needs to be done as the barbering of the homeless above.

5)  Collect all year but have a free, or almost free one-stop shop, or salon, for prom once a year where needy teens could receive manicures, makeup, hair cuts or styles, gently worn party dresses or suits or tuxedos.  Get other citizens involved, too. 

6)  Play games at a nursing home.  Read or listen to residents.  Record or write their stories about different topics; make a copy for their families.

7) Read to disadvantaged children at a library or neighborhood community center. Help teach them to read and/or listen to them read to you.

The Compassionate Kids' website suggests ways to volunteer with children.  Read more at this site or others, but here are considerations, chiefly aimed at already available volunteering, which will may help you think through your organization's novel volunteer service.

"Consider [or Creating] the Right Opportunity

When choosing a volunteer opportunity, it's important to consider the following:
  • Your Child's [Mentees'] Interests
  • Your Interests
  • Your Child's [Mentees'] Abilities
  • Your Abilities
  • Location, Frequency, & Duration
  • Staff Attitude
  • Your Child's [Mentees'] Interests
  • Your Interests
  • Your Child's [Mentees']Abilities
  • Your Abilities
  • Location, Frequency, & Duration
  • Staff Attitude

Resources for Finding Volunteer Opportunities

There are many ways you can learn about volunteer opportunities, including the following:

Check with Keep America Beautiful or other local organizations for community clean-up days.

Consider raising vegetables or starting a canned food drive for your local food pantry.

Check with local nursing homes for 'toddler [or youth] days.'

Take on home baking projects for fundraising bake sales or meal delivery services.

Ask your local Chamber of Commerce for information about local organizations that may have volunteer opportunities.

Call non-profit organizations you like and ask what you can do. They may have needs/volunteer opportunities that you haven't even thought of.

Check for opportunities listed in national volunteer website databases such as (has a designation for kid-friendly opportunities) or (has designations for teen opportunities and under-age-12 opportunities).

As with most parental/educational pursuits, there are many factors to consider regarding volunteering with children, but a little effort can provide a lifetime of benefit for both the kids involved and for society."  Ret. 7-22-13

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