Friday’s Food for Thought…

Getting to know Hands On Charlotte

HOC’s Volunteer Connections Committee (VCONN)

You probably know that Hands On Charlotte (HOC) helps connect volunteers with more than 100 partner agencies in our community, but you may not know that quite a few folks volunteer at Hands On Charlotte itself!

One of our favorite groups is VCONN, the Volunteer Connections Committee. VCONN works with HOC staff to promote the organization at community events like Festival in the Park and the Kings Drive Art Walk, and provides support at signature events like HOC Day.

y7TD5QqcV_11jd_s9mHGWLwDAz5EfqnS23EsRCBM_ig h1XZF3IxhYGWe80lSKesrk9oeVEC7RUwpSa3qYmhhWEIn addition, VCONN is going to take a more prominent role in planning HOC’s popular Mix & Mingle volunteer socials. Mix & Mingles are six times a year (in odd-numbered months) and are designed to provide an informal setting where prospective volunteers can learn more about HOC and current volunteers can connect with each other, HOC staff and board members.

Earlier this summer, the VCONN conducted a survey of active volunteers to get feedback on how the Mix & Mingles could be improved. Based on that feedback, we’ll be alternating nights of the week for Mix & Mingle events (because Mondays alone didn’t work for everyone) and tweaking the food set-up so there are refreshments available for guests who arrive later. We’re also adding more icebreaker activities to stimulate conversation, as well as a brief program with activities such as testimonials from volunteers and project leaders, guest speakers from our partner agencies and community organizations, and HOC volunteer recognition.

We hope you’ll join us at the upcoming Mix & Mingle on Thursday, Sept. 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. We’ll be returning to our favorite Mix & Mingle spot – VGBG at the N.C. Music Factory – with thanks for their support and hospitality!

To RSVP for the event, visit our Eventbrite page. Hope to see you in a few weeks!

Friday’s Food for Thought…We Need YOU!

Now it’s HOC’s turn to ask for volunteers to help us.

In order to give the community a true insight and understanding of what HOC does and the importance of volunteering, we are seeking volunteers for three key positions:  Photography, Social Media and Blogger.

Please review the position descriptions below. If interested, contact Beth Addison at

Thank you for all you do!


Position Summary——————————————————————————


The Photography Volunteer will provide support for Hands On Charlotte by volunteering at project sites to capture HOC volunteer efforts at our partner agencies through photography.

What we are looking for:

  • Images may used on our website, in print material, and through our social media outlets
  • Photos of volunteers at work and in posed shots
  • Photos with diversity of volunteers (age, race, gender, etc)
  • Photos with variety of tasks being completed and locations
  • Bonus points if you can take photos with your smartphone and immediately share over our social media channels


  • A passion for volunteer service and interest in community leadership/development.
  • Past experience in HOC volunteering
  • Capable of working independently as well as serving as a member of a team.
  • Skilled experience in basic photography


Position Summary——————————————————————————images-1

The Social Media Volunteer will provide support for Hands On Charlotte by volunteering to help us grow our social media presence.

What we are looking for:

  • Diverse content and developing strategies to improve user engagement and drive action across all major channels
  • Content to appeal to the diversity of volunteers (age, race, gender, etc)
  • Create campaigns to engage our volunteers, Partner Agencies and the community.
  • Bonus points if you can take photos and create content with your smartphone and immediately share over our social media channels at special events or at volunteer projects.


  • A passion for volunteer service and interest in community leadership/development.
  • Past experience in HOC volunteering
  • Capable of working independently as well as serving as a member of a team.
  • Skilled experience and basic knowledge of the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, YouTube)


Position Summary——————————————————————————

The Blogger Volunteer will provide support for Hands On Charlotte by submitting/posting occasional blog posts to our site with content pertaining to the focus of volunteering. Unknown

What we are looking for:

  • Stories of HOC volunteers and their work in the community
  • Posts highlighting the efforts of our Partner Agencies
  • Interviews with our diverse volunteers (age, race, gender, etc)


  • A passion for volunteer service and interest in community leadership/development.
  • Past experience in HOC volunteering
  • Capable of working independently as well as serving as a member of a team.
  • Excellent proofreading and editing skills
  • Ability to create, compose and edit written material
  • Ability to write simply with a conversational style
  • Knowledge of WordPress




Friday’s Food for Thought…

Helping Hands

A mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets to a performance by the great Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski. When the evening arrived, imagesthey found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on the stage. Soon the mother found a friend to talk to, and the boy slipped away.

At eight o’clock, the lights in the auditorium began to dim, the spotlights came on, and only then did they notice the boy – up on the piano bench, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” His mother gasped in shock and embarassment but, before she could retrieve her son, the master himself appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard.

He whispered gently to the boy, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side and improvised a delightful obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized with their blended and beautiful music.

In all our lives, we receive helping hands – some we notice, some we don’t. Equally we ourselves have countless opportunites to provide helping hands – sometimes we would like our assistance to be noticed, sometimes we don’t. Little of what we all achieve is without learning from others and without support from others and what we receive we should hand out.

Friday’s Food for Thought

According to the Oxford Dictionaries:  Food Insecurity is–The state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food:more than 800 million people live every day with hunger or food insecurity as their constant companion

This isn’t just happening in our economically disadvantaged areas around Charlotte, it’s happening everywhere and in places you may not think–  coworkers,  neighbors,  children’s friends and family members.

There are many organizations that are helping: Friendship Trays, Friendship Gardens, Second Harvest Food Bank, Crisis Assistance and many more.  Please visit to see some of our partner agencies that are making a difference and volunteer.

In 2012, NC ranked #10 for food hardship in the US


Volunteering for Work Experience


Skills-based volunteering will allow you to enhance your resume and make valuable connections in your chosen industry. These experiences allow you to establish contacts for networking, receive letters of recommendation from professionals in the field, and make a substantial contribution to overall job potential.

cncs-infographic6Many employers give preference in hiring individuals who have previous experiences in their respective fields.

Here are some reasons why giving back to the community will give your job search some extra oomph:

It builds your resume

Programs for skills-based volunteering are all the rage these days. If you’re volunteering your professional expertise to a charity, include it in your resume. Write it as you would any other position in your resume by describing your role and achievements, highlighting the skills that are most relevant to your current career goals.

It exposes you to new career paths

Before you commit to a new career path, take it for a test drive. Volunteering is a great way to learn more about a specific function or industry, especially if you’re considering a move to the government or non-profit sector.

It develops new skills

If you are switching careers or seeking a promotion to the management level, chances are you have some skill gaps to fill. Identify volunteer opportunities that will allow you to fill these gaps by exposing you to a new industry or giving you the chance to head a committee or project.

It grows your network

Whether you’re attending charity events or volunteering your time, charitable work is a great way to meet new people and expand your network. There’s no better way to form a real connection with someone than through a shared interest. Even if the organization is unrelated to your profession, there’s no telling who you might meet.

Hands On Charlotte offers many different skills-based opportunities every month.  To find out what they are click here





The Sweetness of Charity–Maya Angelou

We have heard many quotes and excerpts from the amazing works of Maya Angelou throughout the years, and today, HOC would like to commemorate her wisdom and insightfulness by sharing an eloquent essay written to acknowledge the power of giving.  Enjoy!
Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, Part 3

The Sweetness of Charity

The New Testament informs the reader that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. The size and substance of the gift should be important to the recipient, but not to the donor save that the best thing one can give is that which is appreciated. The giver is as enriched as is the recipient, and more important, that intangible but very real psychic force of good in the world is increased.

When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from that grantor’s gift.

Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence –neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish – it is an imponderably valuable gift. Each of us has a few minutes a day or a few hours a week which we could donate to an old folks’ home or a children’s hospital ward. The elderly whose pillows we plump or whose water pitchers we refill may or may not thank us for our gift, but the gift is upholding the foundation of the universe. The children to whom we read simple stories may or may not show gratitude, but each boon we give strengthens the pillars of the world.

While our gifts and the recipients should be considered, our bounty, once decided upon, should be without concern, overflowing one minute and forgotten the next.

Recently I was asked to speak before a group of philanthropists and was astonished at their self-consciousness. The gathered donors give tens of millions of dollars annually to medical research, educational development, art support, and social reform. Yet to a person they seemed a little, just a little, ashamed of themselves. I pondered their behavior and realized that someone had told someone that not only was it degrading to accept charity but it was equally debasing to give it. And sad to say, someone had believed that statement. Hence ,many preferred to have it known that they dispense philanthropy rather than charity.

I like charitable people and like to think of myself as charitable, as being of a generous heart and a giving natures – of being a friend indeed to anyone in need. Why, I pondered, did the benefactors not feel as I?

Some benefactors may desire distance from the recipients of their largess because there is a separations between themselves and the resources they distribute. As inheritors or managers of fortune rather than direct earners, perhaps they feel exiled from the gifts; then it follows that they feel exiled from the recipient.

It is sad when people who give to the needy feel estranged from the objects of their generosity. They can take little, if any, relish from their acts of charity; therefore, are generous our of their duty rather than delight.



How to help Hands On Charlotte from Home

It would be great if all Hands On Charlotte volunteers participate at a service project this summer. But we understand that there are many people who can’t.

So today’s blog post is all about helping Hands On Charlotte from the comfort of your own home.  Here are simple ways that you can help:

1. Refer a Friendimages-2

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.  We always have lots of openings during the summer.

2. Like and follow

Follow us on Facebook and twitter. Take your appreciation a step further by liking, Commenting (better) or SHARING (best) status updates. Not only do your friends see your support, but Facebook’s logarithms give that update a boost to show up on more fans’ Newsfeeds!

3. Write a review  images-1             

If you had a good experience volunteering with HOC, tell the world! Use a site like Yelp or  You could also post something on Facebook or tweet about us!

4. All Hands

Mail Attachment

HOC’s largest revenue source comes from managing customized service projects for companies. Help spread the word about All Hands to involve more businesses.

5. Start a New Partnershipimages-3

We’re always looking for other non-profits to help, specifically regularly scheduled projects–from once a month up to once a week for at least 5 volunteers during weeknights (after 5:30 pm) or weekends. Here’s more details: Partnering with HOC.


6. And finally, Donate

It doesn’t have to be a big contribution for it to help. Donate to HOC.


Do you have any other ideas for how to help HOC from home? Tell us below in the comment section!





When Big Giving Comes In Small Packages

This truly inspiring story about an 8 year old boy proves just how easy it is to make what seems to be a small gesture into something grand!  Enjoy!!

8-Year-old Helps Pay Off Students’ School Lunch Debt

cafeteria-ladies-USDAA super-sensitive Michigan elementary school student felt really sad when a child in the lunch line in front of him who had to put his tray down because he didn’t have enough money in his account.

After that experience, Cayden Taipalus decided to help raise money for the kids who could use a few extra bucks for their lunch account. He is returning cans to earn the recycling cash, and asking friends to donate.

After just two weeks, he has paid for 295 lunches!

UPDATE: 2 Days Later- Cayden’s online page has raised $15,600 to purchase lunches for thousands of kids in Livingston County.

The school always provides an alternate cold lunch, but Cayden wants his classmates to have equal access to all the choices in the cafeteria.

His mom helped him set up an online fundraiser here:

(WATCH the inspiring video from WXYZ-TV)

Thankful Thursday—L&E Research


In honor of Thankful Thursday, #ThankfulThursdays, we want to spotlight one of our volunteers and her organization in appreciation of all they do for the Charlotte community and Hands On Charlotte.

Suzanne Barry joined HOC in 2011 and since then has been a very active volunteer.  She has completed the Volunteer Leader training, worked at not just one project but many different types of projects from The Relatives to Crisis Assistance to Thursday Night Fun with the Florence Crittenton Services as well as special events.  Most recently, Suzanne has encouraged her staff at L&E Research to join Hands On Charlotte and volunteer.

L&E Research has become very active with HOC and was a key sponsor in this years HOC Day.  Their HOC Day team not only consisted of their local staff but also leadership from their corporate headquarters in Raleigh where they participated in beautifying a local CMS school.  As if that was not enough, just this past Saturday, the L&E Research Team came back out to participate in our BIG Project to finish the beautification process.IMG_5499

A huge thank you goes out to Suzanne and L&E Research!!  Their efforts and dedication to volunteerism is a prime example of how we can make a difference whether it’s individuals, families, or corporate groups with the goal of helping others.

How Your Talent Can Help Others


We all have it, although we may not realize it, it’s our talent.  What is your “talent” you ask?  This is that skill you have, that niche you possess, that special something that you may use at work or at home.  It can be organizing, accounting, gardening, data entry, or anything else you enjoy and feel you are pretty darn good at.

Donating your time to helping others is invaluable but if you can take that time and add your talent, you would be doing something  just as invaluable, we like to call “skills based” volunteering.

There are many nonprofit organizations that are doing so many great things for others but unfortunately they may not have the budget or the person-power to take care of some of their essential needs.  This is where donating your talent or skills comes in.

Hands On Charlotte lists many skills based opportunities every month on our calendar, with a focus on using your time and talent to create change in the community.  We encourage you to take a look at the listing and donate your talent to those who need it most.

We hope you will be as inspired as we were in this example of giving your talent to others as it is portrayed beautifully in this article about a woman who donates her photography talents to children with cancer.