Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: VolunteenNation

12/31/2012

StarsTraditionally, December has been Diva Marketing's Holiday For Small Nonprofits Series.

It's a time when people who work in smaller nonprofts are welcome to tell their stories. It's a way of giving back through shining a light on lesser known organizations through the voices of the those who are passionate about their cause.

It's a hope that perhaps before the year ends you'll reach into the your heart for one last 2012 donation. Or as 2013 begins find a new organization to support.

This year life got in the way of life. As The Fates would have it, just as I was feeling sad that I didn't have a nonprofit to share with you, once again social media came to the rescue. This time it was a LinkedIn connect request from a young women .. Simon Bernstein.

Skipping around her profile and then her web presence I knew the story of VolunTEEN Nation would be the perfect way to close the year. I am humbled and honored to introduce you to Simon and her story.

The VolunTEEN Nation Story

Volunteening_Simone Bernstein_1 diva marketingThe story is told by Simone Bernstein who is a junior at St. Bonaventure University. After three years of success with her local organization, Simone and her brother launched VolunTEEN Nation in March 2012.

She has spoken at numerous conferences throughout the nation, has a column at the Huffington Post, was honored in 2010 as a L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth, and was recently listed on the 2012 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurship list.

An Inspiration to Volunteer

Engaging youth in volunteer service heals divisions within communities. As an avid volunteer in both my hometown and college community, with a passion for engaging youth in volunteer service, I took the initiative to launch a national website for youth to easily find and connect with volunteer opportunities and resources at volunTEENnation.org. Utilizing social media tools to promote the website over 8,500 youth have found volunteer opportunities through the website, organized volunteer events, and our annual volunteer fairs.

My initial spark to volunteer in my community was ignited when my dad was deployed in the military. My siblings and I were overwhelmed with the support our family received and the outpouring of volunteers: bringing meals, helping my mom with childcare and daily errands.I wanted to volunteer, too.

I was fortunate through word-of-mouth to find youth volunteer opportunities. During high school, I took the initiative to create a regional website stlouisvolunteen.com out of my own frustration and difficulty in finding volunteer opportunities for youth on-line. Due to safety, security and liability issues and concerns, many non-profit organizations and agencies limit the minimum age for an on-site volunteer to 18. I wanted to make it easier for area youth to find volunteer opportunities. Volunteering_2diva marketing

Interest in our regional website from schools, non-profit agencies and students around the nation drove my brother and I to create a national tool or resource for youth interested in volunteering.

Note It's A Family Affair! Photo of Simon's sister Sophie, brother/co-founder Jake, their Dad who is a captain in the Navy and Simon.

Meeting with local and national government officials, I advocate for service learning in our nation’s schools. The challenge facing our nation’s school’s is the crisis of high school dropouts due to lack of support both in the school and home. Engaging youth in service learning provides a valuable link back to the community with a strong connection to the classroom.

I organized and created the first St Louis Youth and Family Volunteer Fair. The Fair is now an annual event hosted at The St Louis Magic House, Children’s Museum with over 35 family-friendly non-profit organizations recruiting student and families to volunteer.

Wanting to engage more youth, I organize flexible volunteer projects for youth. I coordinated a September 11, 2011 tenth anniversary volunteer service project to engage youth and families “Serve to Remember” park clean-up. Combining sports and youth, my brother and I recruited 25 youth volunteers to instruct tennis lessons at “Aces for All” a weekly tennis clinic for youth on the autism spectrum “Soccer for All” and “B-ball for All”. I also helped start Making Music Matters, a successful organization where teens volunteer to teach music lessons in the inner-city schools.

My goal is to inspire others to find ways for all youth improve their communities.

  • It is well within the reach of any student to get involved and make a difference. 

Ideally, I would like to create an international volunteer site and combine my passion for volunteer service and my medical training to advocate for quality maternal.

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