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There’s Value in Volunteering: 5 Reasons Why You Should Get Involved

There’s Value in Volunteering: 5 Reasons Why You Should Get Involved

Although job seekers often do not see the value in volunteering, volunteering is an opportunity for personal development. In “Don’t Overlook Volunteering as a Valuable Career Tool,” Laurie Morse-Dell explains that many individuals searching for a job believe they should spend their time building relationships and exploring career opportunities. However, volunteering is an opportunity to further market yourself, gain skills and grow your network. Below are 5 reasons why you should volunteer, as outlined by Laurie Morse-Dell.

  1. Volunteering helps fill in gaps on your resume: Are you between jobs? Did you just graduate from school? Employers will ask about what you have been doing since you left your last job. Volunteering is a great way to fill in these gaps and also bring up talking points on leadership and relationship building in an interview.
  2. Volunteering shows that you take initiative: Employers want to see someone who doesn’t sit around waiting for an opportunity to come to them. Volunteering while job searching shows the ability to solve problems and step up.
  3. Volunteering introduces you to a community network: While volunteering, you will come into contact with a lot of people. If volunteering in an area of interest, these contacts could be a direct link to your next employment opportunity. Further, you will get leads just by having conversations with fellow community members.
  4. Volunteering builds your references: Volunteer positions that build your skills or expertise are great for applying for jobs. The volunteer coordinator or director will be hands-on in managing your projects and when the times come will be thrilled to write a recommendation or be listed as a reference.
  5. Volunteering boosts your experience: Whether you are searching for a job or not, gaining experience is always valuable. If there is a skill you are looking to gain, you could search for volunteer opportunities that cater to those skills. Event planning, website design or marketing are examples of skills that are in high demand.

Compass Center offers dozens of ways to get involved. Volunteers have moved on to serve on our Board of Directors, and some have even joined our staff. Click here to learn more about our volunteer opportunities.

What success stories do you have from your volunteer experiences? What worries do you have about volunteering instead of actively being a full-time job seeker? Share below!

Who Are You Accepting on LinkedIn?

Who Are You Accepting on LinkedIn?

6431448699_e660c09aca_bClients often come to Compass Center seeking career advice on job search techniques and/or how to prepare for a job search. As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn remains a leading resource for job seekers. LinkedIn elevates social networking by providing an online platform for professional contacts. But to what extent should limits on professional contacts be pushed? Inspired by a Harvard Business Review blog post, we will explore the three categories of a suitable LinkedIn connection.

The Sharers
Sharers help you stay in the know. LinkedIn places relevant content in your personal feed, so having multiple sharers helps ensure you’re receiving the best news – whether it be local news, industry trends or job opportunities.

The Connectors
The Connector is someone that is extremely plugged in. By adding someone that you already know in a professional capacity, you are able to benefit greatly. Connectors are great for offering introductions to their connections, making suggestions on how to better your profile and inform you of groups or meetups.

The Leaders
Leaders are viewed as experts. They understand social media, especially LinkedIn. They are a combination of Sharers and Connectors. The best leaders are willing to answer questions you may have about bettering your profile, as well as connecting you to groups and other professionals.

LinkedIn isn’t designed to be another Facebook or Twitter. The more strategic, exclusive and intimate connections that can be made, the better.

Question: What do you take into consideration before accepting a LinkedIn invitation?

Photos from Martha’s Day – July 8, 2013

Photos from Martha’s Day – July 8, 2013

On July 8, Compass Center for Women and Families celebrated its one year anniversary with Martha’s Day, a day-long celebration in honor of Martha Pearson, a victim of domestic violence. Martha’s Day was generously supported by Vimala’s Curryblossom Café, DSI Comedy and A Better Image Printing. Chapelboro.com attended and took these wonderful photos!

You can still support Martha’s Day through the end of July. Visit www.compassctr.org and donate online. Please write “Martha’s Day” in the “In Honor” section of the online donation form.

Nearly $5,000 Raised for Martha’s Day 2013

Nearly $5,000 Raised for Martha’s Day 2013

Laura and Martha

UPDATE: As of August 5, 2013, we reached $5,000 raised for Martha’s Day!

The following is a guest post from Laura Morrison, the inspired leader of Martha’s Day…In early June, I got an itch to celebrate my mother’s upcoming 60th birthday. Originally, I thought I’d write a simple letter to friends, family and colleagues, encouraging them to donate to Compass Center to honor my mother’s birthday and her life. However, when I shared my plan with Vimala Rajendran (owner of Vimala’s Curryblossom Café), something beautiful happened. We dreamt up Martha’s Day.

During our initial, hour-long conversation, Vimala and I whipped up a rough event plan, and she even nailed down a band to perform at the event. Within days, Compass Center staff jumped on board, support from the business community poured in, and Martha’s Day was up and running.

The effortlessness of planning Martha’s Day was an early indicator of the generosity of our community, and the actual event was a testament to the ability we have to come together and make a powerful difference in our community.

In only a month, we united behind Compass Center and raised nearly $5,000 to bolster the services the Center provides women, men and children facing domestic violence. And we did it all in the name of my mother, Martha.

Martha’s Day was transformational. When we suffer tragedy, it’s easy to get lost in grief. Martha’s Day was my chance to climb out of my grief and publicly celebrate my mother – her strengths, and her weaknesses. I was honored to share her story in the hopes of helping others survive what she did not – domestic violence. Martha’s Day helped me turn my mother’s tragedy into beauty.

The event reminded me how beautiful the power of community is. Martha’s Day would not have happened had Vimala not been excited about hosting an event, had A Better Image not sponsored our invitations, had DSI Comedy not sponsored our raffle, had the MahaloJazz 3 not graciously performed for us, and had Compass Center staff and volunteers – as well as my friends and family – not dedicated their time to volunteer at the event. It was only after those pieces fell into place that we were able to come together and raise significant funds for Compass Center.

I was blown away by the number of people who stopped by Martha’s Day to show their support and donate to Compass Center (and even more blown away that some of my mother’s childhood friends attended!). And I was definitely encouraged to overhear conversations throughout the dinner about ending domestic violence.

Martha’s Day was certainly about raising money for Compass Center and supporting an organization that is doing amazing work in our community. But my greater aim in organizing Martha’s Day was to pull our entire community into an open and honest dialogue about domestic violence. In that regard, I can say without hesitation Martha’s Day was a success.

At the event, I challenged attendees to ask themselves a few questions:

  • What role can we play in ending domestic violence?
  • How can we support and empower victims?
  • How can we love and rehabilitate abusers?
  • What can we do to educate our kids about this type of  violence
  • How can we lend a hand in breaking cycles of abuse?

I don’t have the answers to those questions. They are big, heavy questions. Domestic violence is a problem, and when you’ve been personally touched by it, the problem feels huge and unbeatable and overwhelming. But as I looked around at the many folks who attended Martha’s Day, I saw my friends, coworkers, family and strangers, and I was reminded that no matter how big a problem is, if we work together, we can defeat it.

Martha’s Day was a step in the right direction. Now it’s up to us to continue our community conversation on domestic violence and plow forward toward ending that violence.

For photos from the event, click here.

Outsider Finds Community with Teens Climb High

Reem Lily toolsLily was recommended to Teens Climb High as a sixth grader. She was dealing with a history of abuse and neglect, and had witnessed domestic violence in her own home.  She had been recently adopted by her foster mother, and was struggling academically. Lily grew to love the weekly group sessions at Teens Climb High. She grew especially close with another TCH participant, someone who also seemed to not fit in with a lot of other sixth graders, and began to spend time together outside of TCH. Lily participated in TCH’s community service learning project at a senior center and loved it so much she did not want to leave when the work was complete. She asked if she could continue helping out there. On the last day of TCH for sixth grade, Lily talked about how much her self-esteem had improved because of this program and the support she gets from the leaders and the other students. Lily is planning to go on vacation this summer with her new friend’s family.

Volunteers Key to Our Work

Volunteers Key to Our Work

April is National Volunteer Month, a time to pause and say thanks to all the volunteers whose devotion and support for Compass Center for Women and Families enables us to provide the wide array of services we offer to our clients and the community. Our volunteers are often the first contact individuals and the community have with Compass Center, facilitating support groups,  providing crisis support over the phone, one-on-one coaching and education, information in the office, and education in our schools and wider community.

JJ is just one wonderful example of the work that our volunteers do for Compass Center. He volunteers as a facilitator for Start Strong, Compass Center’s anti-bullying, pro-healthy relationships class for local 6th and 8th graders, and sees its value “every time middle school students tell [him] that people bully because of the problems they’re having with accepting themselves.” JJ also volunteers as a Domestic Hotline Advocate for a weekly hotline shift, answering calls and meeting with clients in our office for crisis counseling, protective orders, referrals and more.

THANK YOU to all our volunteers!

Teens Climb High Participant Recognized for Leadership

Teens Climb High Participant Recognized for Leadership

Charlotte had been recommended to our Teens Climb High program at the beginning of 6th grade by her school counselor because of challenges she faced in her home situation and at school. At the end of her seventh grade year she applied for and was selected to be a Peer Leader for her final year in the program. In this role she attended weekly group sessions, assisted in teaching the sixth and seventh graders and planned events for the group as a whole. The younger girls and her fellow eighth graders looked up to her as a leader in the program.

Charlotte’s developing leadership has been recognized in other venues as well. In summer, 2010, she was selected to attend the “Discover the Leader in YOU Leadership Camp.” Following that experience, she was recognized for her outstanding leadership in September 2011 through the United Way of the Greater Triangle’s Women’s Leadership Council. In addition, Charlotte has been involved for four years in the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program, and attended the Duke Young Writer’s Camp in summer, 2012.

A 2012 graduate of Teens Climb High, Charlotte’s initiative and hard work have been an inspiration to others participants and leader in the program.  Program leaders are confident she’ll be a leader and an asset in all her future endeavors.

Click to learn more about our Adolescent Programs.

Making Changes. Setting an Example.

Making Changes. Setting an Example.

Maria had always dreamed of buying her first home, but was burdened by debt. Her Disability income was not enough to pay the bills for herself and her nine children. Referred by a local housing organization to Compass Center for Women and Families, Maria soon joined the Financial Coaching and Support program. With other participants she attended weekly financial workshops for two months then each met individually each quarter for a year to chart their progress with a financial counselor. Each participant was invited to place an empty frame on the wall at home and envision their completed picture. Maria was inspired by this challenge, and learned and developed new financial skills, and, perhaps more importantly, identified her own beliefs about money, changed her behavior patterns and was able to share her journey with the eight other women participating.

Fifteen months later, Maria has established an emergency fund, is putting two kids through college and has commendable savings for a down-payment on her first home. Even better, her children are learning from her grit and determination to make smart choices around money for themselves as well. “I wish I was using Compass Center a long time ago,” Maria told us recently. “It really, really helps. If I didn’t have Compass Center, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have that belief in myself.”

Click to learn more about our Financial Counseling Services.

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