Friday, February 19, 2016

Profile of a Volunteer

Kieff (2009) talked about volunteerism as a form of advocacy, and although I have never really seen volunteers that way, I am developing a shift in my paradigm of a volunteer and an advocate. Louise Sparks-Derman (Laureate Education, 2010) defined an advocate as someone who speaks for the voiceless. So, even if you were a volunteer helping the unfortunate, you are advocating as well especially for the voiceless. It was interesting to me that I have volunteered through a wide variety of settings: short-term, long-term, team, family, and direct. I have not volunteered in a virtual way yet, but an opportunity might present itself some day soon.

Today, I am a volunteer advocate for both a service-oriented and advocacy-oriented nonprofits (Kieff, 2009). Through my involvement as a volunteer advocate in both organizations, I have learned from others more seasoned than me. Learning from the master advocates has helped me improve my advocacy skills. The following definition describes what the two volunteer masters that I try to emulate have done:

Volunteering is the voluntary giving of time and talents to deliver services or perform tasks with no direct financial compensation expected. Volunteering includes the participation of citizens in the direct delivery of service to others; citizen action groups; advocacy for causes, groups, or individuals; participation in the governance of both private and public agencies; self-help and mutual aid endeavors; and a broad range of informal helping activities (President’s Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives, 1982 as cited in Cnaan et al 1996).

Furthermore, the following definition more narrowly describes why they volunteer:

To volunteer is to choose to act in recognition of a need, with an attitude of social responsibility and without concern for monetary profit, going beyond one’s basic obligations (Ellis and Noyes, 1990 as cited in Cnaan et al 1996).

They always recognize a need and drum up support to address the need, usually about Deaf children and their families. They advocate for the individual family, for the community, and to leave the world a better place than they found it.

I feel lucky to know these two women, Sheri Farinha and Julie Rems Smario.


Cnaan, R.A., Handy, F., & Wadsworth, M. (September 1996). Defining who is a volunteer: Conceptual and empirical considerations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly vol. 25 no. 3 364-383. Retrieved from: doi: 10.1177/0899764096253006
Kieff, J. (2009). Informed advocacy in early childhood care and education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2010) The passion for early childhood. Baltimore: Author

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Using Social Media to Get Connected

I initially started using Facebook because that was one of some ways I could keep up with my children’s lives when they went off to college.  Either they would have to write weekly letters home or allow me to be their Friend! My children made right decisions!

Since that time, I have come to enjoy Facebook benefits along with its disadvantages. There is a lot of political and advocacy discourses on Facebook from which I formulate my thoughts and actions. I only wish that I were savvy at utilizing all of the social media in a way that all of these contribute to my advocacy efforts.

I have Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram accounts, and I don’t use them much. Friends tell me that they use one or the other, but usually not all of them together. I have seen how my colleagues have adeptly utilized all of them together to promote their causes, and I am still learning how to do so.  Instead of leading as an advocate, I am a great follower. That’s different from trolling!

I have seen first hand the power of social media advocacy where people change their minds. I have seen how some people more adeptly utilize social media to create new ideas.

One thing that I thoroughly enjoy and have been trying to set up is a blog. Maybe when I finish my graduate studies, I can devote more energies to my blog which will allow me to create more influence steps through twitter, and YouTube.

All of this is hard work and takes time; time is something I don’t have much as long as I am in graduate program and working full time. I dream of mastering social media advocacy some day!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Advocacy Messages

“A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”

It is an advocacy campaign to solicit donations for United Negro College Fund (UNCF) so they can send minority students to college. It is indeed sad when minority students are unable to attend college because of cost. We all value our brain/minds; and when we do not help to send minority students to college, their talents or gifts are lost.

Teach Well. Explore Solutions. Develop Expertise…Change Lives

There was an advertisement for a university graduate/doctoral program that was on Council for Exceptional Children website. I like it, and thought that the teacher/advocate in this class would appreciate the message. This message promotes the idea that to change children’s lives, you would need to learn to teach well, willing to explore solutions, and thus develop expertise.