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DATE: May 01, 2002
LET’S BRING MANDATORY VOLUNTEERING “FULL CIRCLE”


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Martha Steimel

President
Victims Assistance of America
msteimel@victimsassistanceofamerica.org
502-292-2456
202-213-2541

LET’S BRING MANDATORY VOLUNTEERING “FULL CIRCLE”


Prospect, KY (May 01, 2002) - Victims Assistance of America, Inc (VAA) -- Hi, I am Martha Steimel, President of a new 501-c-3 set up to fight the nation’s number one crime: identity theft. We will be training advocates in identity theft issues and having them work with victims to the end of their problem. We are just at the beginning stages right now. We are using a straight volunteer force until we are prepared to start asking for funding and attending to our victims.

It’s been interesting dealing with volunteers. Some jump right in there with the intent of helping in any way that they can. Their “community focus” is phenomenal and their help greatly needed and appreciated. We also have students who “have to” do community service or they can’t stay in the Honor Society or some other group or function at their school. Some of these volunteers are very efficient and enjoyable to work with, but, you know as soon as they hit that “quota” they will be gone.

In the course of working with “mandated” volunteers I have fallen into some information that I have found to be very very beneficial for grade, middle and high school students. However, I have also found the information to be totally unknown for some reason in the education sector. Universities across the country have set up programs called “Scholarship Dollars for Volunteer Hours”. I’ve actively been contacting Universities across the country and not found one who did not have some form of the same program. The last University told me – hey, we’d be real surprised if one didn’t have it so you may as well figure it’s out there and go on to your next step.

What was my next step? I started contacting grade, middle, and high schools. Especially if our organization, Victims Assistance of America, Inc (VAA) had a volunteer on staff attending their school, I would contact the school and #1 see if they were aware of the program. #2 Make sure that they knew we had a student volunteer that should get credit if they do start to track it. I think all non-profits will find it beneficial to push for all grade, middle and high schools to start tracking and transferring volunteer hours right along with the students school records. So that, ultimately, when that student reaches college he has the best chance of making use of whatever Volunteer Hours he has accumulated over the years towards his college education.

Step back and look a minute. Students now “wash cars” to help fund their band, “sell candy” to help fund their football team, put on “silent auctions and bar-b-que’s” to help fund their end of the year school trip. These students are into Mega-Volunteering right now and getting absolutely no credit for it. Why not point this out at the grade, middle, and high school level? Have the school tract and validate the hours being put in and keep records right alongside the scholastic records. As the child moves to the next level or next school, no volunteer hours would be lost. Now, take this one step further. I now have 3 children all in college all at the same time. Had there been a program like this available when that last child entered grade school, I would have been out there volunteering my heart out and donating my hours to my children’s records. I am a very active member of a rotary club in my town. I put in lots of volunteer hours and they just go down the drain. If the schools would start to track validated volunteer hours I’d be willing to donate mine into a child’s account that could really use them.

What about grandparents, aunts, and uncles that may already be doing volunteer work? What if at their work volunteer hours are mandatory? If I worked for a company that made it mandatory that I do volunteer hours and I could then donate them to my child’s, grandchild’s, nieces, or nephews account or any child’s account that then makes “Best Use” out of these “mandatory” programs. It brings the “volunteer hour” idea around full circle! Not only are you helping a non-profit you’re helping to further the educations of American students at the same time. A duo-purpose!

Now . . . why do you suppose all the Universities know that all the Universities have these programs? And, at the same time all these grade, middle and high school students are working around the clock nationally doing all types of volunteer projects with no credit hitting their records at all? Don’t you think we – as the nation’s non-profits- should go out of our ways to get these two educational groups together?! Think of the “attitude adjustment” that would take place in a volunteer’s mind! Think of the new motivation! Now, not only are they helping us – but, even if mandatory, they want to! They are not only helping us – they are educating a young American at the same time.

I think we should all be out there stumping for these schools to validate the hours a student put in with us. We should be giving the school something on our letterhead to officially track the hours with us and ask that school to keep it with the student records. We should be asking the schools to let family members donate hours to a student’s folder. We should ask the service organizations across the country (such as Rotary International) to donate their validated service hours to a grade, middle, or high school in their area. Let’s let all this volunteering come around full-circle and benefit in two ways. Let’s push for a duo-purpose. You may “volunteer” because it makes your heart feel good to do so . . . or, you may “volunteer” because you want to help a grandchild! Think of the quality of volunteers and the quality of future volunteering if we can just get this to take off! The potential is phenomenal and NO ONE is taking advantage of it AT ALL that I can see. No, I take that back! . . I AM! . . . ARE YOU?!

Respectfully Submitted, Martha Steimel, President, Victims Assistance of America, Inc (VAA)

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