Tag Archives: Volunteer

Triple “R” July & August Give-Back

GiveRacking up those give-back hours this summer, I’m working on the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle realm – wrapped up in the all-important education component.

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I started a compost bucket a few weeks ago at work. It was something I thought about for months, but I wasn’t sure how well-received it would be. Some people think, “oh gross!” when compost is around, but I thought “what the heck, let’s try it!” All my worries about smell, bugs (fruit flies) and anything else that might turn my colleagues sour have so far been non-existent. Fingers crossed we continue to have zero problems. Granted, it’s mostly used for coffee grounds and only minimal food scraps.

Working in Lake Oswego, I thought there wasn’t a compost program, but good news, they recently adopted one! For now it’s easy to take the re-used coffee container (I love repurposing), every Friday and throw in my compost bin at home, but I have a future commercial composting project on the to-do list. Info on the program: here.

In just three weeks, we have diverted 8lbs of compostable items from the landfill (we are a small office).

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My recycling efforts in the office are going along smoothly. We have nearly everyone doing their best to place items in the appropriate bin. 

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I take materials to the Far West Recycling (formerly known as Far West Fibers) center about once a month. I throw it in with our household pile, so it’s not a lot of extra work, and it’s satisfying to see it diverted from the trash. All the clamshells (before my co-workers knew better), used to go in the recycling – yikes!

As a side note: Did you know Far West Recycling takes:

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I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Oregon Brewers Festival (OBF) as a Master Recycler for the second year in a row. I love volunteering at festies! Doing something good for the community and the planet in a fun environment, and be rewarded with a beer mug and tokens to boot – can’t beat that! (FYI for my fellow festival volunteers – OBF offers double beer tokens when you volunteer on Sunday. You can use them earlier in the week on the honor system or they are valid to use in future years.)

Special Announcement:
I now have 51.25 hours logged for the Master Recycler program. I’m half a Centurion!

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Master Recyclers assist with managing the waste prevention volunteers, ensuring they are educating the public on how and where to place trash, compost and recycled materials. This year the festival wasn’t able to compost the plate ware since the ban is now in place, so I didn’t think the rate of landfill diversion would be very high…but Mitzi, waste coordinator for the event, rocked it out in other ways. Way to go Mitzi and the Waste Prevention Crew!

Here is her follow-up message:

“Great news, OBF reduced its overall waste by 25% this year! (From 12.28 tons to 9.28 tons.) Our overall diversion rate this year was 52.4% (4.86 tons).  I’m bummed that the garbage was so darn heavy…but the good news is that we didn’t have a huge increase in actual garbage, despite the fact that all food service ware was going in there, so we must have done much better on our overall recycling efforts.”

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I joined the Recycling Advocates board this spring and had the pleasure to table for the non-profit a couple of weeks ago in the Hazelwood community fair at the soon-to-be-developed Gateway Park. It was one of those 100 degree days resulting in a small turnout, but I did receive the surprise gift of seeing a friend whom I have not seen in years, so it was well worth my time! She works for Friends of Trees (Portland has SO many great non-profits) and our tables created the eco-corner.

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Want to learn more about Recylcing Advocates, or simply passionate about recycling and living an eco-friendly life?
Join us for our annual meeting!

What: Recycling Advocates Annual Meeting 2015
When: September 1st, doors open 6:30pm, program begins at 7:00pm
Where: Sierra Club, 1821 SE Ankeny St, Portland, OR 97214
Who: YOU! RSVP to info@recyclingadvocates.org
or call 503-777-0909

This event is free and open to all Recycling Advocates members and friends. We’ll provide food and drinks from our friends at Laughing Planet and Lucky Lab.

Finally, to round out mid-summer, my daughter and I checked out the Recycled art show at Edgefield McMenamins for a couple of hours one night. Pretty impressive stuff!

CrackedPots

-Cracked Pots – Recycled Art Show-

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Earth Day – SOLVE – FORCE LAKE – Volunteer #3

SOLVE-Our Volunteer Crew-

Continuing my 2013 Volunteer Series, here is our super duper fun EARTH DAY volunteer gig. (I know this was a couple months ago, but better late than never.) Being outside is key for me on Earth Day, and finding a way to give back and volunteer is even better. Thankfully, we live in a region that provides a plethora of opportunities. This year I decided to keep it VERY local. I found an outdoor beautification opportunity in North Portland only 1.5 miles from my home-it was perfect.

FORCE LAKE

Force Lake Area Map

Force Lake is located in the Kenton Neighborhood of North Portland on N. Force Avenue next to the entry to Heron Lakes Golf Course. The lake is near the Portland Expo Center and the I-5 interchange with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Marine Drive West.

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In full disclosure, I had never heard of this gem in North Portland, so I was intrigued, and a little embarrassed I hadn’t explored this lake so close to my home.

The way to get things done: WORK TOGETHER!

Introducing the lovely collaboration between SOLVE, the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC), and Friends of Force Lake, with Portland General Electric (PGE) as a business sponsor.

According to the Friends of Force Lake website, 38 of us hard-working volunteers worked for 3-5 hours (depending on the family) to provide these results:

  • 25,000 sq. ft. cleared of invasive Himalayan blackberries and English Ivy
  • 500 native species planted
  • 500 lbs. of trash removed from in and around the lake

SOLVE 4My 12-year-old daughter was reluctant to fulfill her volunteer duty. She didn’t want to get up early on her precious Saturday, and volunteering with her mom didn’t sound like tons of fun. (She has volunteered with me countless times on a variety of tasks, but as she get’s older it’s harder to “convince” her it’s still an awesome thing to do.)

However, as we started clearing the invasive species, and planting the natives, her face lit up. At one point she said, I’m so glad you made me do this mom, it’s actually really fun.” That is what an eco-mama wants to hear- music to my heart! Additionally we had friends visiting from Seattle that volunteered with us. What better way to spend time together than volunteering outdoors!

I have to provide a huge shout-out to SOLVE. This is an incredible organization that cares for our beautiful state harnessing all the awesome volunteer power we have. Here is a quick rundown of their accomplishments during the Earth Day volunteer extravaganza during April taken from the website.

1 month — 343 projects — 10,000+ volunteers — and a whole lotta LOVE for Oregon as thousands of volunteers pitched in for a spring cleaning of Oregon’s beaches, waterways and natural areas.

On Earth Day: 143 volunteers came out to make a difference across the state as part of the 24th annual SOLVE IT event, presented by PGE. These impressive watershed improvements were made:

  • 3,970 native trees and shrubs planted
  • 74,260 pounds of trash removed
  • 259 tires collected
  • 39 acres cleared of invasive weeds

Force Lake Cleanup was a SUCCESS!

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In addition to the Collaboration Team mentioned above, a big thank you goes out to Portland Parks and Recreation for disposing of the trash and providing mulch. To Champoeg Nursery and the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services for donating native plants, and to the Kenton Neighborhood Association and HEART for their support.

                                                                                                                   

                                                                               Want to see the other posts in my Volunteer For A Year Series? Visit:                         Oregon Food Bank                                                                                                             Columbia Slough Watershed Council

Giving Back at the Oregon Food Bank- Volunteer #2

Second Installment in my Volunteer for a Year series- Introducing…

The Oregon Food Bank

Filling the role as service learning project coordinator this year for my daughter’s 6th grade class at the Portland Village School– we chose The Oregon Food Bank  (OFB) as our organization to volunteer for. When we arrived on site, we were introduced to the project-CARROTS!

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Apparently we were lucky to get produce as our task for the morning, as fresh produce donations are rare for the food bank. Typically school groups measure out bags of dried goods (beans, rice etc.).

Food Bank 6The students worked for 1.5 hours creating 5 lb. bags of carrots that would later be placed in food boxes and distributed to families in need.

Since the beginning of the 2008 recession, food box distribution has increased 41 percent.

In an average month, 92,000 children in Oregon eat meals from emergency food boxes.

Of those receiving Emergency Food, 34% are Children.

FoodBank with kids

-Village School Students Working Hard!-

In 2012, 20% of households receiving food assistance had one or more veterans living in them. (Since 1996 this number has ranged from 15% to 21%.).

The percentage of individuals with education beyond high school or GED receiving food assistance has changed from 29% in 2000 to about 42% in 2012.

Food Bank 1

Working alongside another school group, the students packaged:

6,333 pounds of carrots in the 1.5 hour shift.

A meal is considered slightly more than a pound of food. That means the students provided approximately 4,872 meals during their volunteer shift

(94 meals per volunteer)!

Way To Go 6th Graders! 

After the students completed their shift, we were given a quick tour of the facility- it’s an impressive place! The OFB addresses hunger in a multi-faceted manner:

  • The innovative Fresh Alliance program collects and distributes nutritious, perishable foods for people who are hungry.
  • Education Programs teach low-income participants to grow food from seed and to stretch food dollars while cooking healthy meals.
  • Work through FEAST (Food, Education, Agriculture Solutions Together) workshops and other partnerships help communities build stronger and more equitable local food systems.
  • The Advocacy Team works to find long-term, public-policy solutions that benefit people with low incomes.
  • Huge outdoor garden on site.
  • Commercial kitchen on site for nutrition and cooking classes.

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“Last year, Oregon Food Bank distributed 43.5-million pounds of food to hunger-relief agencies.”

Food Bank 4In 2012 at OFB’s two Portland area locations, volunteer hours were equal to 74 full time employees, valued at $2.4 million.  WOW!!!

Photo Left: I attempted to get a photo with my daughter, but she exclaimed, “No way mom, you’re going to put that on your blog!”  I guess the volunteer outfits weren’t flattering enough. 🙂

So, one of her friends posed for a photo with me. Thanks Jaslie!

All the above statistics were found on the Oregon Food Bank website. Click here for a PDF version of the 2012 stats, and to find additional information.

The OFB has plenty of opportunities to volunteer for groups and individuals. There are shift dates and times planned in advance for school groups – you simply sign up for the shift you want to volunteer for.

Columbia Slough Part IV – Environmental Education

My Volunteer Experience

The Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) works directly with several of my passions: outdoor place-based education, service learning projects and stewardship. I volunteered with their Slough School education program, which works with students in the surrounding schools.

volunteerStaff members visit classrooms and teach students  a wide range of topics, such as water quality and native plant species. Students also come to restoration sites to learn in the natural environment. The CSWC provides opportunities for service learning projects (planting native plants), and learning about the eco-systems through water chemistry tests, observing micro-invertebrates, and identifying species and habitats.

                                                             -Whitaker Ponds-Outdoor Classroom-4th Graders-

I volunteered at a community site near Fairview (just off I-84) with a 5th grade class. The students planted native species to beautify the area and create a sound barrier next to a busy road. They also did water chemistry tests to explore Ph, oxygen, and temperature; learning how these things effect water quality.

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A couple of the students grew tired of the project quickly, but the vast majority were thrilled to be outside, getting their hands dirty, and helping their community.

One student said, “I wish I could do this every day!”

Since the class wasn’t able to plant all the plants on site that morning, many of the students were asking to return the following day to “finish the job.”  

Almost all of them wanted to stay longer, a testament to the power of placed-based education! 

Plants

Many of the field trips take place at Whitaker Ponds, (also the CSWC office site). Students have planted hundreds of native species there this year. I volunteered at this site twice, assisting with plantings, water quality tests, and micro-invertebrate studies.

It’s so great to watch the children become scientists and stewards, enjoying their natural world.

kids planting

If you are a teacher interested in having your class volunteer with the CSWC and creating a plan of study with the Slough School, contact:

Sheilagh Diez, Slough School Education Director
Phone: (503) 281-1132
email: sheilagh.diez@columbiaslough.org

(Note: The program fills quickly. I recommend contacting her spring/summer before the school year begins.)

A big thank you to the staff and volunteers at CSWC for all they do with the community and fostering a sense of stewardship with our youth! It was fabulous getting to know your organization. 


Whitaker Slough
-Whitaker Slough and Canoe Launch-

Note: I encourage you to check out Whitaker Ponds. Located at 7040 NE 47 Ave, a ¼ mile north of Columbia Blvd., The area is a pubic park, with two ponds, a canoe launch into Whitaker Slough and a half mile loop trail. Although it’s a small pocket of nature in the middle of industrial Portland, it’s home to many species. On a recent birding event I attended there, we saw 35 species of birds in just two hours! (FYI- No dogs allowed)

Watch this great 5-minute documentary on Whitaker Ponds – really well done.

Map of Ponds

Suggested Reading Material on children and the outdoors: Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv- check it out here.

Want to Learn more about the CSWC and the Columbia Slough? Check out my other posts in this four-post series.

1. Columbia Slough – What is it?

2. Columbia Slough Part II – Natural Surroundings Education

3. Columbia Slough Part III – A Peak Behind the Scenes (The Interview)

 

A Year to Volunteer!

Project Introduction

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Aligning with this years networking focus, and launching my presence out in the community, I am VOLUNTEERING! I have volunteered for more than a dozen organizations in various capacities over the years ranging from tabling and phone banking for Planned Parenthood, to running climate change awareness campaigns for Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG), to chaperoning field trips for my daughter’s class trips. One of the most memorable however, was the summer I cooked 3 meals a day for 120 people for an entire week at a Sierra Student Coalition Summer Training. (I  had a helper!)

However, when I moved to Portland, I was slow to get involved. So, one of my New Years Resolutions is to volunteer for a different organization each month, and sample a dozen non-profits. I am determined to fulfill my dozen quota, but it may not be on a neat and tidy monthly schedule. I plan to highlight the organizations, perform interviews with staff, volunteers, and participants, and of course, share my experiences volunteering for causes I care about!

So, you guessed it, my first organization is the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. I have already highlighted the Columbia Slough, some of the outreach and  community events the council organizes,  and you can look for the interview post next week, and my personal experiences post soon.

I will be moving on to the next organization next week, so stay tuned to discover the next lucky cause I will be highlighting. Do you work or volunteer for an organization you would like to see me cover? Do you have a favorite cause that deserves extra attention? Have a non-profit in mind you think I would really enjoy volunteering for? Please comment below-I would love suggestions! I post all my content to the organizations Twitter and Facebook accounts (when appropriate and applicable), and of course, my blog posts are shared with all the folks in my network!

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”   –  Martin Luther King, Jr

Above Image Credit:   http://benton.lphamo.org/volunteer.htm