Recent studies show, that when a company puts forth a sponsored volunteer program for its employees, people are more likely to feel encouraged to participate. Since implementing the new ReEmployAbility company-sponsored volunteer program this year, our team has shown commendable initiative and participation. As a company working alongside not-for-profits nationwide, we want to provide our team members with an opportunity to be able to schedule some time to volunteer at the not-for-profit of their choice.

On two separate occasions, Resolutions Specialist Nate Ryan, took the time out of his busy schedule to volunteer at Hope Villages of America, Inc. in Clearwater, FL. Their organization’s mission is to provide hope restoration with dignity to those in need through their innovative programs and services. Just like many nonprofit organizations across the nation, Hope Villages of America, Inc. offers many opportunities for individuals and groups who want to make a difference in the community. Read on to learn more about Nate’s experience, Hope Villages of America and how to volunteer.

Lifting Heavy for Hope

This is what Nate had to share about himself and his experiences at Hope Villages for America:

Please give a little background information on yourself.

I have been working at ReEmployAbility for about 3 years, and I am currently the Resolution Specialists for the company. In my position I handle and resolve escalated and complex service concerns to find effective resolutions. Outside of work, I am a musician and a mental health advocate.

Why did you choose to volunteer at Hope Villages of America, and how is the organization’s mission significant to you?

I chose this location because my church supports Hope Villages of America regularly. They have a food bank, housing, and offer mental health services for people experiencing homelessness. I thought it would be a great opportunity to help my local community. I appreciate ReEmployAbility for giving me the opportunity to help my local community in person!

What were your duties and responsibilities while volunteering?

I was assisting in the Food Bank making care packages, with each box overflowing with a myriad of nutritious food. I filled two carts with bags that were filled with about 20 pounds of food each. Some boxes were big enough to hold about 45 pounds of food. We served 60 people in need on my first visit (March 8, 2022)! I was looking forward to assisting them the second time around (March 15, 2022), that was the day they needed the most help. That day I was sorting food into bags, and had to lift 45 pound boxes of food for clients, along with stocking the shelves.

What is the process to volunteer at the organization?

To be eligible to participate as a volunteer, I had to fill out the Volunteer Application and I had to call the Volunteer Coordinator, Reunika (Marie) Parham, to set up my schedule.

Would you recommend others to volunteer at this nonprofit, and what should they expect as a volunteer?

Yes, the nonprofit is very organized. Volunteers should be expected to lift about 25 to 45 pounds regularly.

You have no idea how rewarding it is to see the looks on peoples’ faces who are a part of my local community, when they see the amount of food they have been blessed with! And it was all walks of life, from people just walking up with a Radio Flyer wagon, to a well-dressed man in a Mercedes who has fallen on hard times. Just instills in me that we are ALL just one or two steps away from needing assistance like this and that no one is better than anyone else. We are all on the same playing field and should do our best every day to help those around us, the best we can!

Hope villages of America: Addressing Hunger, Housing, and Abuse

We reached out to Hope Villages of America in Clearwater, FL, to get a better understanding of their organization and what they do for the communities they serve. This is what they had to say:

Hope Villages of America operates a food distribution center that provides more than six (6) million pounds of food to individuals and families each year through direct service, as well as through nearly one hundred (100) food pantries throughout Pinellas County. Additionally, HVA focuses on the basic needs of the individual by providing hygiene items, vouchers for partnering thrift stores, and resource coordination for additional services.

We provide emergency shelter for homeless families through our Grace House location. Grace House is the largest family shelter in Pinellas County, operating almost half of the available beds for homeless families. Almost 90% of families who complete the program move to stable housing, and less than 3% experience another episode of homelessness within the first year. HVA also provides affordable housing opportunities at Goldsmith Gardens, an 11-unit apartment complex. Additionally, rent and utility assistance is available for the community.

Hope Villages addresses several types of abuse, including elder abuse, economic abuse, human trafficking, and domestic violence. The Haven at Hope Villages of America is a certified domestic violence center that includes a thirty-six (36) bed emergency safe house shelter and outreach services.  Outreach services include prevention and intervention services for individuals of all ages.

What are your organization’s goals for the community you serve?

Our mission is to provide hope restoration with dignity to those in need through innovative programs and services. Our goal is to expand and provide more services and reach more people in need.

Briefly describe a recent accomplishment your organization has achieved.

We were named 2020 Nonprofit of the Year through the Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and received Gold status for 2021 Family Friendly Business from Thrive by Five Pinellas.

Is the organization planning any upcoming events that you would like to let the public know about?

Our upcoming annual fundraiser, “Celebrity Classic Weekend” will be help on Sunday May 29th, 2022 (Family Sport’s Day) and Golf Tournament on Monday May 30th, 2022. Funds raised will allow us to continue serving nearly 150,000 Pinellas County residents. For more information, please click the link: https://hopevillagesofamerica.org/celebrity-classic-weekend/

What is the most important message that you would like to relay to the readers about your organization?

The mission is noble, but the task is arduous and we need the support of our community. We have what we call our appeal 365 and that is what we need from the community 365 days of the year. Advocacy. Volunteerism. Financial Support.

Volunteers Needed!

Are you looking to offer some of your free time to a charity in need? Hope Villages of America is an award-winning organization in need of your help to achieve their mission and goals for the community they serve. Hope Villages of America is always in need of food and item drivers in the Pinellas County area, and the volunteer opportunities are available for all programs. Check out all the great programs Hope Villages of America has to offer and how you can be a part of something meaningful:

Food Distribution Services:

Getting food to the people who need it most, is the most basic part of Hope Villages of America’s mission. Donations need sorting, packing and marked before they are ready to be distributed. Help the organization prepare food to be distributed through their program to fight hunger. If you can not donate your time, there is always an option to help through an organized food/fund drive.

Volunteer opportunities available:

Help in the interview room

Help in the warehouse

Drivers needed for light pick up (bread)

People to clean designated areas

On Fridays, strong individuals are needed to help load crates of food.

Abuse Services:

The opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life is at the heart of the volunteer experience. Hope Villages recognizes that volunteers are a valuable resource and their best ambassadors. Individual skills and interests vary, and Hope Villages understands that not everyone can volunteer at the same time. They offer many opportunities with various time commitments. Hope Villages is currently seeking volunteers for:

Victim Advocates

Cleaning

Adults who can work with children

Housing Stability Services:

As a volunteer for Hope Villages’ Housing Stability Services, you can support the organizations mission in limitless ways. They are currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers to organize donation drives for programs essential to the needs of their residents as well as organize their storage room. Mature mentors and tutors are always needed to work directly with residents of all ages in our new state of the art computer science room. There are many opportunities for landscaping, gardening and general maintenance available upon request.

Click to learn more about Hope Villages of America, Inc. and how they help those in the community they serve.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer contact volunteer@hopevillagesofamerica.org for more information of call the Volunteer Manager to schedule your group at (727) 443-4031 ext. 506

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