Archives for May 2012

Virtual Volunteers

Some volunteers are unable to visit a non-profit but still wish to participate in the mission. Others simply offer a skill-set best utilized online. Either way, volunteers are no longer defined simply by their physical proximity to a non-profit. While many opportunities exist where people are needed on the ground, the social nature of technology has made it so that people are now able to participate in a cause from a distance.

We have been thinking about a name for those opportunists — those hidden between the screen pixels and airwaves — who want to give their time and skills to non-profits without needing to be in the same time zone (though many are). They are the rogue bloggers and online data analysts, the copy-writers and the graphic designers, the proofreaders and social media butterflies, the Excel gurus and the consultants; they are the virtual volunteers. 

These new virtual opportunities do not eliminate the need or decrease the significance of volunteers in community kitchens, pantries, shelters or offices, they simply create new ways for people to get involved. Some of the benefits of the virtual volunteer:

  • Virtual volunteers can work on projects on a flexible time schedule (no set hours). People who might otherwise have been unable to participate can now make time on their own to join the mission.
  • Virtual volunteers are often quick communicators.
  • Virtual volunteers might be from a new pool of unexplored networks.
  • Virtual volunteers bring new and unique skill-sets to many non-profits.
  • Virtual volunteers can fill vital gaps in many non-profit technology initiatives.

Being that non-profits and social service organizations are generating more online content and are increasingly aware of their marketing and branding needs, a gate into a new realm has been opened for the computer-savvy and tech-lovers, regardless of age or location. MACC is no exception.

We encourage you to contact us if you want to participate in our mission as a virtual volunteer.

Contact:

Nathan Oldham

noldham@macc-ct.org

860-942-4549

This is What Community Looks Like

Our volunteers are amazing. That word has been overused but it best captures the way we feel about the people who give their time, mind, energy and resources so we can meet emergency needs in our community.

A few weeks ago we discussed the bare shelves that tend to appear during the summer months, this is what they looked like:

The response was swift. Volunteers heard the call and filled our shelves so no families or individuals would have to face a slim selection of food. There is a sense of ownership that compels the volunteers around here to action. The stakes are high. They know what it means when we say that our shelves are decimated; it means that our neighbors might not eat if we don’t make something happen, quickly. 

It has been a few weeks since the word spread about the need and volunteers are still bringing in food from drives and events. Today happened to be the day of the Temple Food Drive at our local Stop and Shop (pictured below). Our massive sorting table was hidden beneath the piles of food and there was still more coming in!

There have been many other drives and there are many more on the way. We simply want to acknowledge and thank all of our volunteers who have given so generously to keep these shelves full. Though the needs will never go away, we believe the army of men and women who stand by our side will always push back against hunger and poverty in our community, regardless of  the season or the reason.

Teaching to Fish

When you think of MACC, you probably think about the food pantry and shelter or, perhaps, clothing. But the fourth part of our mission, advocacy, is equally important. This work promotes self-sufficiency, giving clients direction so they can be self-sufficient.

Advocacy can be quite rewarding, as reported by one of our volunteers, Roberta, who works in the Department of Advocacy and Support Services a couple days a week.

She had taken a call from a desperate client who needed to make a $140 payment to the electric company that day, May 9, or her electricity would be shut off. The client said she would have the money May 19, but the company refused to wait. Roberta gave the client the phone number of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), suggesting they might be able to intervene with the company on her behalf.

A few hours later, the client called back, happy and excited to thank Roberta. The DEEP had convinced the electric company to change the payment date to May 19. The client’s immediate problem was solved and, better yet, she learned how to advocate for herself.

We often don’t know when our clients have success with a utility or a SNAP application because we just don’t see them again, so it was extremely gratifying for Roberta.

This is what advocacy is all about. At the end of the day, we love helping when we are needed but , even more, we exist to teach people how to advocate for themselves.

________________________

To learn more about volunteer opportunities in advocacy or other areas of MACC, please send an email to jcampion@macc-ct.org, noldham@macc-ct.org or call at 860-647-8003.

Postal Drive!

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

More than 20,000 pounds of food was donated to MACC’s food pantry and kitchen during the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual food drive last Saturday. Cereal, pasta, canned tuna, soup and vegetables, and dozens of other foods were collected during regular mail deliveries in Manchester and Bolton. We want to thank our letter carriers for their extra effort, our neighbors for their generosity, and our dedicated volunteers who transported and sorted the food.  Because neighbors are helping neighbors, we can continue to help families who are struggling to put food on their tables.Image

What is KaBurst?

Not all modern communication tools are easy to understand and even fewer are committed to strengthening a local community. When KaBurst first came to visit us at MACC, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that they were serious about community, giving back (they donated the system to us for free), and offering a product accessible to anyone. 

KaBurst allows us here at MACC to write a short message about an emergency need or upcoming event which will then be sent immediately via email or text message to our followers. Most networking options require our volunteers and partners to  go online, login, and sift through recent updates. KaBurst makes it so the messages go to you. One free sign-up is all it takes to start receiving our “bursts”.

KaBurst is local, which means that it was started by locals and has many businesses already signed up. If you want to be aware of the specials at your favorite local restaurant or small business, simply wait for the burst to appear on your phone or in your email. These guys are also unqiue in that they all have a strong background in financial systems development which simply means that this network is extremely secure and all of your information is safe.

We hope that you sign-up for free at the Kaburst website to start receiving our updates within the next two weeks. Also, check out their blog where they recently highlighted our efforts at MACC!

 

Walking the Beat

There is nothing like face-to-face communication. One of the pastors from a MACC Member Church was visiting today and discussing his general approach to ministry. He likened it to “walking the beat”, without the usual implications that come along with law enforcement. Rather, from this perspective, the focus is on interaction, making eye contact, greeting, conversing and establishing a relationship.

He described in three words what some people have written  books about. At the end of the day, without this type of engagement, there would be no MACC. On the ground level, it all comes back to eye contact, shaking hands and talking. These basic gestures of life are what keep us human. These avenues of primal communication keep people from feeling neglected and marginalized.

When we “walk the beat” (read: serve/volunteer), we remember why we do what we do whether we are staff, volunteers or partners. This realization is why so many people volunteer at MACC. There are countless stories of first-time volunteers who came to serve a dinner and were nervous before dishing out the first meal. Most of those stories ended with an epiphany that we’re all people, we’re neighbors and crossing the threshold from a face to a name is one of the most important things we can do.

We invite you to walk the beat with us! Even if you have never volunteered before, we would hope that you consider joining us in our mission. If you already serve with us regularly, we hope that this resonates with your drive to restore dignity and hope.

Construction

If you have stopped by MACC recently, chances are that you have gawked at the multiple pieces of heavy equipment digging and smashing our parking lot. We found a weed and wanted to make sure we got to the roots…

Okay, you’re right, that is ridiculous! The truth is much more interesting. We are in the process of expanding our parking lot to meet some zoning requirements that would (finally) allow us to move the Church Mouse Thrift Shoppe onto our property. This is part of an ongoing effort to move all of our services to one location. Having a central campus makes it much easier for clients and volunteers to locate us for any possible need.

The grant that is allowing us to move the thrift shop to our property is also allowing us to install a handicap-friendly bathroom, put on new siding on some of our buildings, construct handicap access to the thrift shop, add a new exit, windows, stairs and a roof, build a cover for our outdoor freezer, install new flooring and an instant hot water system (so all of our guests can have a hot shower).

If all goes according to plan, we will have all our services running from our five buildings on Main Street in Manchester by the end of the Summer! In the meantime, you can park at Lincoln Center next door.

Manchester, CT is a blessed community and I am a blessed woman.

Today is my 13th  anniversary of serving as the Executive Director/CEO of MACC Charities and this morning, I started my day off with fifty (50)  people from our community at the Mayor’s 3rd Annual Prayer Breakfast held on the National Day of Prayer. Our Mayor, Leo Diana spoke and presented a proclamation for the event.

We enjoyed a special  time of prayer, song, reflection and fellowship.  The fifty people in attendance represented  our approximate 55,000 residents (that is about 11,000 each).  Faith Leaders from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities led prayers,songs and shared their faith, reflections, readings and scriptures with those in attendance.  If you have a little better day than most, you may want to think about the prayers said on your behalf today.

The Spiritual Leaders of Manchester prayed for our first responders, schools, students, families, elected officials, the poor, elderly, our freedoms, peace, unity, diversity, tolerance, our military, economy, jobs, the hungry and spoke of respect of faith, each other and how faith can make a community better.

It was beautiful and, as one minister put it, we are beautiful people.  From where I sit, I see how we bless each other every day.  Take a moment today to be thankful.  Talk to someone about faith today.  If we take the time to reflect on the good things in our town and invest in its people, we will see the change we want in our community.

Manchester is a wonderful place to live, work, worship and play.  I believe this – do you?

– Beth Stafford | CEO

You may have started to see the phrase “Join us.” written on various MACC materials. This is not just a catchy branding initiative, it is a firm belief that it takes a community-wide force to push back against desperation and poverty.

“Join us.” is a very different message than “Help us.” simply because we don’t want to exist as an organization where you come only when we are nearing the brink of desperation. The fact is that poverty is a tireless, day-in and day-out, relentless hope-killer. Our mission must not only match — but exceed — the weight and strength of the poverty that traps our neighbors. It takes a community of hopeful, determined, loving and passionate individuals to push back and restore hope. This is our burden to carry together.

MACC Charities has existed for years with a community that has understood what “Join us.” means. However, our pantry continues to swell with families and the elderly and our kitchen continues to plate food for the empty stomachs. The call to “Join us.” is as prevalent now as it ever was because poverty is not resting today. We don’t need you to merely fill an empty slot when we need it, we want you to recognize that there is always a need and it is our mission to meet those needs together.

So, will you “Join us.”? If you already have, will you consider spreading this message? There is no maximum capacity for this mission; there is always room.

We always have new and ongoing volunteer opportunities, upcoming events and a place to give to our mission.

https://macc-ct.org/join-us/

Upcoming Events: May 2012

Being that it is May 1st, we couldn’t wait to tell you about some of the upcoming events at MACC! Part of this list was in our most recent MACC Minute (our newsletter). If you want to join our mailing list, please contact us to receive the updates.

  • EXPO- This coming Saturday, there will be an EXPO held at Cheney Technical High School from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The entrance fee is simply one non-perishable food item which goes directly to MACC or a $1 donation which goes towards the fuel bank. You will have access to a wide variety of local businesses and services- the day promises to be an enjoyable, family-friendly event. We hope you come to support your community and to support MACC!
  • The national campaign Stamp Out Hunger is coming up on May 12th. Postal Workers will collect canned food which has been bagged and placed by a mailbox to then donate to local pantry that day (we happen to be one of those local pantries). Visit their website to learn more about the event.This is an event that can have long-lasting effects, especially when the community is aware of the opportunity! As you may know, this is the hardest time of year for our pantry. Food drives like this one keep our shelves stocked and families fed- we thank you in advance for your involvement, please contact us with any questions.
  • You are invited to participate in the 16th Annual Todd Abitz Golf Tournament as a golfer or a sponsor. This year, the tournament will be held at the Blackedge Country Club in Hebron, CT. There are going to be a wide variety of door and raffle prizes, a breakfast and dinner and plenty of entertainment. The profits from this event benefit MACC, HVCC and and the Men’s Club of Beth Sholom B’Nai Israel. For more information, please visit the event website.

We hope to see you at some- or all– of these events!

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