NATIONAL VOLUNTEER MONTH: MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN CENTRAL TEXAS
APRIL 1, 2021 VIRGINIA POTTER
We know that each of us can play a part towards making the world a better place. This National Volunteer Month, we’re recognizing the contributions of volunteers who are helping Central Texas nonprofits improve the quality of life here in our own community.
Nationally, it’s estimated that volunteers contribute nearly $188 billion in estimated value to nonprofit organizations. With more than 7,000 nonprofits in our region, the passion, skills, and commitment of volunteers are crucial to bringing the vision of each of them to life. There are roles for every type of volunteer, no matter their background or skills, whether they have a few hours to contribute each month or are signing on for a long-term or time-intensive commitment.
Learn more about some of the ways volunteers are making a difference in Central Texas and find inspiration as you look to get involved.
AUSTIN PARTNERS IN EDUCATION | TUTORS & MENTORS
Not every student shows up to the classroom with the same advantages of a good night’s sleep, a healthy breakfast, and someone to review their homework and practice reading before bedtime. Factors outside the classroom can contribute to lower educational achievement, poor attendance, and negative attitudes toward school. But tutoring and mentoring can change the trajectory for these students.
Hundreds of trained volunteers help Austin Partners in Education support more than 2,500 students each year and put them on the path toward future success.
CASA OF TRAVIS COUNTY | VOLUNTEER ADVOCATES
When children enter the foster care system, they find themselves in a grown-up world filled with social workers, lawyers, and judges, all preparing to make lifechanging decisions on their behalf. To ensure their voices are heard in the process, volunteer advocates through CASA of Travis County make reports to the court in the child’s best interest, making sure their individual needs remain a priority.
CASA of Travis County supports nearly 800 volunteers to serve over 1,700 children in our community. As a court-appointed advocate in a Child Protective Services (CPS) case, these volunteers will spend up to 20 hours per month getting to know the child they represent and understanding their entire situation so as to make informed recommendations back to the judge about what is in a child’s best interest. CASA volunteers often serve as a consistent adult presence for a child throughout their case.
PARTNERSHIPS FOR CHILDREN | OUTREACH VOLUNTEERS & MENTORS
Through Partnerships for Children, volunteers can provide support for children in the care of Child Protective Services. The Heart Gallery is an initiative to raise awareness for the more than 1,000 children in Central Texas waiting for adoption. Volunteers can get involved by leveraging their connections throughout the community to exhibit the gallery in new locations and increase visibility each year, helping these children find their forever homes.
Partnerships for Children also supports youth aging out of foster care through the YES Mentoring program. Every child deserves to have someone in their corner, and volunteers can provide support through this critical time of transition.
AMERICORPS CENTRAL TEXAS | AMERICORPS MEMBERS
AmeriCorps is a federal program that aims to unite America through service, connecting individuals and organizations to take on community challenges. AmeriCorps members serve for up to a year, contributing their skills and experience to create a better future for themselves and their communities. AmeriCorps Central Texas is a collaboration of nine nonprofits that offer paid AmeriCorps service opportunities in our region, from near-peer coaching at College Forward to literacy tutoring at Literacy First. The organization engages over 500 members each year, impacting the lives of more than 20,000 Central Texans.
As a foundation, we are committed to creating pathways to prosperity for children and their families through improved health, education, and economic stability. Living out this mission means taking on challenges that are big, systemic, and thorny. But as I reflect on the contributions of volunteers in our community, I remember what makes me feel so hopeful about what we can achieve together.
Many hands make light work. There is always a need for volunteers, for those who will show up with the heart and the dedication to make a difference in the lives around them. Joining with our nonprofit partners, together, we can support the children in our community, create lasting change, and work toward a brighter future for all Central Texans.