Archive | December, 2010

50+ Inspiring Service Quotes for VISTAs

14 Dec

Quotes can be a great way to motivate you when your VISTA days get rough. We asked VISTAs for their favorite quotes and compiled the list below. Here are 50 quotes to inspire your service:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

“The outrage of hunger amidst plenty will never be solved by “experts” somewhere. It will only be solved when people like you and me decide to act.”  ~ Frances Moore Lappe

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don’t mind, and those that mind, don’t matter.” ~ Dr. Seuss

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” ~ William Shakespeare

“The only place where democracy comes before work is the dictionary.” ~ Donald Kendall

“One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” ~ Albert Schweitze

“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr

“It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than oppression
and discrimination half a block from home.” ~ Carl T. Rowan

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

‎”The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others” ~ DeAnn Hollis

“How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to change the world.” ~ Anne Frank

“One of the things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people.” ~ Dick Gregory

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other.” ~ George Eliot

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill

“Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. It’s my least favorite quality. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
~ Conan O’Brien

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” ~ Chinese Proverb

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~Zora Neale Hurston

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to sleep in a room with a mosquito.” ~ Anita Roddick

“They always say that things change with time. But actually you have to change things yourself.” ~ Andy Warhol

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~ Aesop

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but the one thing I know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” ~ Thomas Edison

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller

“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” ~ Mark Twain

“The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” ~ Gloria Steinem

“As you go through life, act in such a way as not to deprive others of happiness. Avoid giving sorrow to your fellow man, but to the contrary, see that you give him joy as often as you can.” ~ Sioux Proverb

“Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“Volunteers aren’t paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” ~ Anonymous

“Once a person steps into the circle of those who take responsibility for the happy operation of the community…the magic of community begins. ” ~ Dorothy Haddock

“Imagine what a harmonious world it could be if every single person, both young and old, shared a little of what he is good at doing.” ~ Quincy Jones

“Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life. ” ~ Albert Einstein

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. And we have a choice: What sort of difference do we want to make?” ~ Jane Goodall

“There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.” ~ George Shinn

“What we must decide is perhaps how we are valuable, rather than how valuable we are.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Talents are best nurtured in solitude; character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.” ~ Goethe

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” ~ Harvey Fierstein

“The future belongs to those who can give the next generation reasons to hope.” ~ Pierre Teilhard DeChardin

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves,  some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” ~ Sam Ewig

“When spider webs are woven together, they can tie up a lion.” ~ Ethiopian Proverb

“A feeling of inadequacy is therefore nothing to worry about. It is the way you should feel if you are learning.” ~ John T. Gage

“You should know that the education of the heart is very important. This will distinguish you from others. Educating oneself is easy, but educating ourselves to help other human beings to help the community is much more difficult.” ~ César E. Chávez

“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s tougher to make a difference.” ~ Tom Brokaw

“Circumstances determine our lives, but we shape our lives by what we make of our circumstances.” ~ Sir John Wheeler Bennet

“Give light and people will find the way. ” ~ Ella J. Baker

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” ~ Arthur Ashe

“To make a difference is not a matter of accident, a matter of  casual occurrence of the tides. People choose to make a difference.” ~ Maya Angelou

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” ~ Anthony Robbins

“I know of no great men except those who have rendered great service to the human race.” ~ Voltaire

‎”When I was young I used to volunteer in a soup kitchen and they thought I was wonderful. When I asked why there were soup kitchens, they thought I was a radical.” ~ Senator Paul Wellstone

“Cause and effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension. Sometimes one person inspires a movement, or her words do decades later; sometimes a few passionate people change the world; sometimes they start a mass movement and millions do; sometimes those millions are stirred by the same outrage or the same ideal and change comes upon us like a change of weather. All that these transformations have in common is that they begin in the imagination, in hope. To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibilities that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it’s the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.” ~ Rebecca Solnit

What are your favorite quotes? Comment below with the quotes that inspire your year of service.


Words of Wisdom from Vanessa Schaefer

9 Dec

I was reading an interview with Vanessa Schaefer, a Greater Homewood Community Cooperation VISTA serving in Baltimore, MD about her year of service and I was struck by this response:

Every VISTA has a lot of ups and downs during their year. What was the toughest thing you had to deal with, and what/who got you through it?
The toughest thing I had to deal with was that early in my year, I was assaulted while in Washington, DC. Being in the midst of making new friends after having just moved alone across the country and started a new job, this added a whole other level of stress to the situation. What got me through it was making friends and pressing through the red tape to take advantage of the benefits AmeriCorps offers its members. Building a support system and utilizing the few resources you do have as a VISTA cannot be touted enough.
I think Vanessa’s resilience is amazing and I agree, a support system is the most important thing we can have as VISTAs. Support systems help you find new resources in the community and across the country whether you need vet bills or simply a free hug when times are tough.
And this might be one of the best pieces of advice anyone can give to a VISTA:
If you could say one thing to people just starting their year of service, what would it be?
Just go with it. It will probably be one of the strangest years of your life, and possibly one of the most difficult, but it’s definitely worth it and you’ll learn a lot. Keep your sense of humor and just go with it.

21 Great MLK Day Resources

7 Dec

January 17, 2011 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. Across the country thousands of Americans will honor his legacy of service by committing to make MLK Day a “day on not a day off.” To celebrate this day of service many organizations offer resources to help communities moblize and support volunteers. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a great time for VISTAs to engage people in the work and mission of their organization and in the process build a culture of service in your community.

Here are 21 MLK Day resources to help you plan a amazing project:

1. Register Your Project

Make sure to register your MLK Day project. This page gives you information on how to go about doing that

2.  E-Action Updates

These updates contain resources on everything from creating a communications plan to fundraising.

3. American Sunday Super Toolkit

The Hands On Network is sponsoring a national campaign to host Sunday Supers across the country to talk about key community issues. This PDF gives you everything you need to host your own event.

4. Become an E-Reporter

E-Reporting for is a great way to get the photos, tweets, and blogs you post about your MLK Day experience out to a wider audience.

5. MLK Day: Volunteering and Giving Back

This Huffington Post article from last year’s MLK Day gives five great ideas on how to give back on MLK Day.

6. Hands On MLK Day of Service Toolkit

This is a great resource to help you develop and manage your volunteer project for MLK Day. It’s a great overall resource that walks you through MLK Day planning and implementation from start to finish.

7. MLK Day Promotional Materials

Order free materials like bookmarks, stickers, posters, and an DVD with inspirational MLK Day of Service videos.

8. 2011 Semester of Service Toolkit

The Semester of Service is a service-learning initiative that encourages schools and organizations to create projects that begin on MLK Day and continue until Global Youth Service Day in April. This is a great way to continue learning and serving beyond January 17.

9. MLK Day Tips and Tools

This is an extensive list of resources with everything from media interview tips to volunteer management

10. Community Cinema Toolkit

The MLK Day Community Cinema project uses documentary films to inspire service in the community and educate people about the critical issues our world faces. It’s a great project to do on MLK Day and this toolkit gives you everything you need to start a Community Cinema event in your community.

11. Recommended Videos for the MLK Day of Service

This is a great list of videos about MLK Day and service. The best part is that National Service members can rent any of these videos for no charge from the National Service Resource Center/

12. MLK Day Service Learning Curriculum

This is a great resource for teaching about MLK using service-learning. It also has a great collection of MLK quotes.

13. Mobilization Webshops

This is a list of upcoming and archived MLK Day webshops on topics ranging from Best Practices to Bringing MLK Day Projects to Scale.

14. MLK Day Challenge Toolkit

The MLK Challenge model sorts volunteers into groups, gives them a challenge, a small budget, and empowers them to use creativity solve the challenge and meet a vital community need. While this was intended for college students I think it is a cool model any organization could use.

15. MLK Day Action Guides

You can find ways to get involved in specific issues like Veteran’s Issues and Financial Literacy with these action guides.

16. Create the Good How-To Guides

These How-To Guides are great for individuals who want to plan their own service project on MLK Day

17. Hands On Network Service Ideas

The Hands On Network also provides a list of How-To guides with lots of service project ideas for individuals and organizations.

18. Service Connection

The Service Connection is a social network designed to help people collaborate and share resources on MLK Day.

19. MLK Quotes

Quotes are a great way to inspire people. Write them on sidewalks, stick them in bathroom stalls, use them in reflection, be creative with these words of wisdom.

20. Volunteer Match MLK Day Site has a special site to list MLK Day Service opportunities. Opportunities posted there will also appear on AllforGood which is used by and to find and list MLK Day projects.

21. MLK Day YouTube Videos

These videos are sure to inspire you and your volunteers.

This is by no means an extensive list. Comment and share you favorite MLK Day resources!

Two MLK Day Webinars This Week

1 Dec

Let’s face it, January is an awful time to do service projects in most parts of the country. It is cold and bleak. There is nothing sexy about volunteering in January.

Yet  Martin Luther King Jr. Day is one of the best days to do service. There are tons of resources, tons of encouragement, and your volunteers get to be part of a national community of service. This week there are two great webinars out there to help you get the most out of your MLK Day project.

Today (Dec. 1) at 3pm: MLK Day 2011: Create Your Communication Plan.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is such a great time to grab media attention for your organization and volunteers. Since this is the 25th anniversary of the first observance of this federal holiday a lot of local media will be paying attention to ways their community is celebrating this day of service. This webinar will get you prepared to reap the rewards of that attention and to create a plan to engage media around your MLK Day project.

Read more in the latest MLK Day e-Action update.

Friday (Dec. 3) at 3pm: MLK 2011 Signature Civic Dialogue Events – Supper and Cinema

This year the Hands On Network is supporting the first annual Sunday Supper and Community Cinema. On January 16, 2011 thousands of individuals across the country will come together to share a Sunday Supper and discuss the most pressing issues in their community. Paired with that event is the Community Cinema which is a critical venue for social change that will bring people together to watch a film, reflect, and serve. Find out how you can bring these two great events to your community at the webinar on Friday.

Read more in the Hands On Network’s MLK Day E-Newsletter

Even if you can’t make these webinars make sure your organization is thinking of ways they can engage people to better their community on MLK Day. Bring some joy in the bleak, cold month of January.