Ryan’s Story – Sometimes you wear a Superman costume with a TuTu for fun

I got a chance to sit down recently with a Volunteer Leader named Ryan Sullivan and I have to say I was impressed. The Connecticut native leads one of the two Crisis Assistance Ministry projects, which for many of us is our first volunteer opportunity with Hands on Charlotte. A fun and energizing opportunity, Crisis Assistance Ministry provides clothing to Charlotte families free of charge, as well financial assistance to those in urgent need. It’s also not coincidentally in the same parking lot as Second Harvest Food Bank, another favorite of HOC volunteers. Ryan, a tall glass of water by any measure, began his tenure with Hands on Charlotte in 2006 and has been a Volunteer Leader since 2009. Aside from his work with Crisis Assistance Ministry, Ryan has also led events for our annual Hands on Charlotte Day and has for years been the Fundraising Chair for the Relay for Life of Ballantyne. There, he got to dress as Superman and lead another great group of HOC volunteers. (Why the tutu in the picture? Cancer doesn’t discriminate by gender.) In addition to this, the multi-talented man is part of the funny local improv comedy troupe Now Are the Foxes (check your old Saturday Night Live tapes if you’re missing the name reference there, sports fans).


Crisis Assistance Ministry is, as Ryan states, “A great volunteer project in that it lets participants immediately see the amount of work they’ve done. They can tell the impact they’re having then and there, and take something positive away from it.” I’m inclined to agree. The sorting and organizing of clothes, while not the most glamorous work, is still very fulfilling and—given the fun group of folks who show up for this event—you can have a great time working with a group towards a goal together. I strongly recommend it for beginning volunteers who want to see if the call to service is something they truly want to invest in. It’s also a good time for veterans who have some time to give to a very worthwhile cause.

An early life-changing injury to his brother gave Ryan his perspective on the world and the troubles that plague it. “You can’t solve every issue, but you should at least try to help address the ones you can,” he explains when I ask him why he volunteers so much of his time helping others. “I feel when you’ve been given blessings in life, it’s only right that you give back,” he mentions, as we begin talking about his life and motivations for volunteering. Engaged to a beautiful woman and employed by a financial planning software company that’s also very charitably inclined, Ryan certainly has a lot going for him. Having studied abroad and traveled the country extensively, he’s got a good view on the world. He also has, I can attest, a very healthy appetite for excellent BBQ and perhaps the best taste in music I’ve encountered among any volunteer I’ve met so far. We’ve been trading songs back and forth since meeting and giving each other new ideas on some genres.

Ryan and I found we had an unusual amount in common over the course of destroying our plates of BBQ, ribs, and pulled pork….ok, maybe the most obvious is we have large appetites and can put away the food. In addition, though, we’ve both kept busy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Whereas I sit on a scholarship committee, my good Ryan volunteers leading public speaking workshops for the Center for Leadership Development. When asked, Ryan stated, “It’s important to help set the volunteers and leaders of tomorrow off on the right foot today. The early college years are some of our most developmental and learning to find one’s voice early is truly a gift.” I couldn’t agree more. Very often we focus on younger children when it comes to instilling the importance of service, and while that’s clearly important we should not overlook the value of guiding our young adults along a positive path as well. Our last common trait is that, while we’re both very busy—and who isn’t these days—we find time to volunteer through HOC on a regular basis. Ryan and I both encourage people to use HOC’s easy online calendar to sign up at least once a month and to make volunteering a habit.

Ryan personifies exactly what Hands on Charlotte looks for in a Volunteer Leader. Well organized and possessed of a passion to give back, Ryan has been a real asset to our organization for a decade. We can only hope his love for giving back and the time he dedicates to helping others survives as he prepares to engage in one of the greatest challenges to free time known to man: Marriage. Congratulations, buddy – you two are going to be great!

  • Ben Burton is a Hands On Charlotte Volunteer Leader for The Relatives project.

Kelsey’s Story – playing in the dirt and connecting to the city

Kelsey Willis, 28, is an employee for Compass Group. Compass Group provides services in areas such as food, hospitality and support services. There, Kelsey works with the benefits department. Previously she worked at Habitat for Humanity in Knoxville, Tennessee. She moved to Charlotte in May 2015.

When Kelsey came to Charlotte, she was looking to meet new people and get involved in the community. While Googling volunteering, she came across Hands on Charlotte and decided to sign up for volunteer orientation. From the introductory presentation, Kelsey believed HOC to be very thorough. She liked the fact that she could try out different projects and then choose to return to the ones that appealed to her.kelsey-1-crop

When I interviewed Kelsey, I could tell that she is a natural leader because she is willing to lend a hand and is honest about her thoughts. She explained to me that the projects she leads benefit Friendship Gardens, a huge network of gardens in Charlotte. The Urban Farming at Garinger project helps to supply food for Friendship Trays, Charlotte’s meals on wheels program. About her commitment, Kelsey says “I used to do a lot of other projects, and I still go to others when I can, but I focus on this one now.”

When I asked Kelsey why this project fits her personality she said “I like to focus and complete things and be tangible when I do things.” With her willingness to work hard and wait on the beauty to appear, Kelsey has the right attitude for working in a garden. She says her projects are great for “anyone who wants to play in the dirt for a little bit, get out in the sun, and come back in a couple of weeks to see the sprout of what they planted.” I also learned that Kelsey likes to be outdoors and appreciates that the food grown in the gardens feeds people in need.

Kelsey knows when her projects will be held a month in advance so she is able to make sure they fit into her schedule. She feels that HOC is a great place to meet new people and get out into the city. She says that through volunteering you can break out of your comfort zone and meet people you wouldn’t normally meet. “When I volunteer I feel like I did something to help out. I feel a part of the community and connected to the city.”

kelsey-2-cropKelsey still doesn’t know too many people in Charlotte but she champions HOC to as many people as she can, hoping that they’ll volunteer. “My volunteer leader shirt is a very bright fluorescent orange and people ask me about it, it’s a great conversation starter,” said Kelsey. She desires for people to come out to her projects and enjoy themselves just like she does.

  • Breannon Wills is an aspiring author and creative enthusiast who hopes to one day start a creative children’s non-profit organization.

Emily’s Story – Uplifting Children, Youth Tutoring returns Sept. 12!

Twenty-five year old Emily McGrane, an Email Marketing Specialist at Direct Digital volunteers with Hands On Charlotte because she has always been interested in helping others. She found HOC through a Goggle search.

Emily has been volunteering for the Homework Hounds project for over the past three years tutoring elementary and middle school students. The project takes place at Beatties Ford Road Library. She has volunteered over 86.5 hours with Homework Hounds and is now a Volunteer Leader for the project.  When I asked her why she choose the project she responded “I love kids and that is the first project I went to after orientation. I loved it so much I just stuck with it.”

Emily McGraneEmily McGrane

“I love the kids who come to this project in particular because they’re all so sweet and have a genuine curiosity about everything and a desire to learn” Emily replied when asked why she enjoyed volunteering with children. Emily wants to brighten a child’s life and make that child’s self-esteem grow. She is dedicated to this project and enjoys being a part of it. She thinks HOC has done a good job making this project is available at various libraries throughout Charlotte which is convenient for volunteers.

In Emily’s own passionate words about why people should volunteer “The kids at this project are the sweetest kids ever. They genuinely WANT to learn but they have many roadblocks. Some of the children have parents who don’t speak English. Other kids can’t afford school supplies or have dropped out of school and are looking to come back. You definitely see a little bit of everything at this project. Something that I really enjoy is that the majority of kids during the 2015-2016 school year came every week so you really got to build a personal relationship. There’s a girl who has been coming to the project every week for the past three years. This year, she made the honor roll for the first time and her dad was teary he was so proud. The parents who bring their kids to tutoring are really good, involved parents so it’s also a pleasure getting to know them as well.” 

Emily wants the kids that come to her project to learn and grow as individuals. She wants them to take away a sense of comfort from Homework Hounds. She feels good about helping but also feels sad when she thinks about how much more there still is to do. She wants more people to volunteer in order to make a positive difference in the lives of children. Children are the future and by her compassionate volunteer work she is helping the whole community. She would recommend HOC because it has been a great way for her to volunteer. “Doug does a great job training everyone and making sure that everyone feels comfortable. I’ve also met some great friends along the way,” Emily explained. Emily is another example of how volunteering can impact our lives positively. She uplifts the children by helping them learn but in return is uplifted.

  • Breannon Wills an Aspiring Author and Creative Enthusiast, who hopes to one day start a creative children’s non-profit organization



Mia’s Story – making Charlotte a better place to call home

A lovely young lady originally from Arizona, Mia Andrews is the volunteer leader for Urban Farming at Garinger High School. This project tremendously impacts its neighborhood by providing fresh vegetables to low-income families. I had the opportunity to get a bit of insight into the incredible woman behind one of Hands on Charlotte’s most popular projects. “I actually got started with Hands on Charlotte when I was in high school” she begins as we sit down to chat at a local pizzeria “I was 17 or 18 and I helped clean up a local creek. I remember pulling an old tire out of the creek bed and getting a sense of satisfaction that I had accomplished even that small amount.” Mia echoes the sentiment many volunteers share about making a change, however small, in our world. “The world today is a scary place, there are so many problems I can’t do anything about. Sometimes you don’t know where to even start. But by volunteering you can do at least something to help you try and fight back against all the scary that’s out there.” She sums up her motivation for volunteering in one sentence: “There’s no real good reason not to help.”

image1                                   Mia at Machu Picchu, not an HOC project site 🙂


Mia, an avid traveler, seems to have set down roots here in the Queen City, “I like Charlotte. The rest of North Carolina can be a bit worrisome at times but Charlotte seems to have its act together.” I’ll freely agree; we are sort of an island for many ideas and cultures you don’t often see elsewhere in the state. In addition to her approval of the city, Mia shared her admiration for the people she’s met while volunteering. “One of the coolest people is Thom Duncan who works with Friendship Gardens. He’s so passionate and knowledgeable. I love talking with him. Also one of my volunteers, a guy named Geoff, is from England and he’s very cool as well.” I too have met many awesome people through Hands on Charlotte. You’ll find no finer people than those who’ll go out of their way to make the world a better place.

One person Mia and I both have a deep respect for is HOC Staff member, Doug Macomb. I’d certainly say he made the right call when he chose Mia to lead Urban Farming. “When the previous volunteer leader […] left, Doug asked me to take over. I think he knew I’m sort of a control nut so I’d be a good volunteer leader.” As any volunteer leader will attest, leading projects is always a fun and challenging experience. Mia expands on this:

“One of the most important things I do is make sure my volunteers know very clearly what our mission here is. What is it we’re trying to accomplish? I hate volunteering and nobody seems to know what’s expected of them or what they should be doing. I try to keep everyone as busy as possible. Busy projects are the best because you know you’ve actually done something when it’s over.”

This is very sound and intelligent logic. It’s pretty clear that Mia tempers her passion for helping with a level head and firm understanding of what’s actually needed in a leader. Keep up the great work Mia! Thank you for your time and dedication to making Charlotte a better place to call home.

  • Ben Burton is a Hands On Charlotte Volunteer Leader for The Relatives project.

Karyn’s Story – getting children involved

One of the delights of Hands On Charlotte is the diversity of its volunteers. When looking at Mrs. Karyn Godsman and me, no one in his right mind would conclude that we have anything at all in common. I’m a tall, heavy set, pale, bearded man who is fond of tattoos and thrash metal. The excellent Mrs. Godsman is a slender housewife and mother of three who constantly wears a cheerful smile. Yet there we were sitting in a local ice cream and coffee shop while chatting about her life, her volunteer work, and her motivation for giving back. Like most of the people I meet in Charlotte, Karyn is a transplant; she hails from the strange and foreign land of Connecticut. Along with her family, she moved to our area a few years ago and has been engaged with Hands On Charlotte for some time now. A veteran of our pet visits project, she shared that “It’s great the look the residents get when they see the dogs. Also my youngest saw one gentleman’s face light up and I knew he got it then the impact we have.”

Karyn & kids

Karyn & her kids at the Fun Zone – photo courtesy of Together We Feed

While two of her kids explore the shop, Karyn talks about her involvement in a new project. “It’s called Fun Zone,” she begins as I eat my ice cream “we meet at a Title I (low-resource school) and partner with Second Harvest Food Bank and Together We Feed to provide activities for kids while their parents are getting food. We have games, face painting, and just an overall blast with them. It’s a lot of fun for everyone and I love that I can bring my own children with me and get them involved.” This partially answered my inevitable question of “Why do you do it?” As Karyn explains, “It’s really important to get kids involved in volunteering and being active early on. It sets a good foundation for later.” We’ll always be dependent on the next generation of volunteers. Thankfully, Hands On Charlotte provides a host of opportunities for families with children.

Another fun facet of our volunteer community is meeting friends of friends. Karyn and I were excited to find that we both know Hands On Charlotte Superstar Sara Yon! Karyn exclaimed, “She’s my bestie in school! I met her at UNCC and we found out we both volunteer with HOC! She borrowed my son for a homework project!” Sara is a veteran of The Relatives and is also one of my best HOC friends. Like Sara, Karyn is working on her Master of Social Work degree as another means of giving back. She believes “We should be focusing on Charlotte’s forgotten neighborhoods and communities. This is a big city and sometimes areas get neglected by city officials and that’s where we should step in with projects.” As a big advocate of Charlotte’s diverse cultures, Karyn says “We should be bringing them together. Mixing people from different communities should always be a goal of any volunteer group.”

Having met Karyn, I am heartened by the strength of our volunteer community and glad there are parents getting their children involved. I whole-heartedly share her vision of Hands On Charlotte’s role in our city. The new Fun Zone project impacts communities with activities for children who may not have many opportunities. It sounds like one of the most enjoyable ideas to come down the pike in a long time. As the summer heat grinds on, Fun Zone is a great way to get the entire family engaged before the school year starts back up. Thank you Karyn, for taking the time to share your experiences and thoughts with us. I wish you and the other volunteers at Fun Zone continued success!

  • Ben Burton is a Hands On Charlotte Volunteer Leader for The Relatives project.

Janet’s Story – loves to help others

Janet Driskell is a current volunteer for Hands On Charlotte. Janet’s occupation is a Senior Reimbursement Counselor. Her job consists of helping patients that are trying to receive assistance for medications. Janet’s job title shows us already a lot about her character; she loves to help people. She began volunteering when she was laid off from her job and she states that she has always liked helping others. She also got involved with HOC because she was looking for an outlet to meet new people. As Janet stated, “I did some research and I found the HOC website and now the rest has been history.” Some of her favorite projects are Special Rollers, Saturday Morning Live, Theatre Charlotte and the Assistance League Thrift Store. She’s volunteered at a variety of different projects that HOC offers.

janetJanet Driskell

Janet became the volunteer leader of the Assistance League Store project after the previous leader was getting ready to graduate from college. A new leader was needed and she stepped up. The Assistance League Store is a project that consists of sorting through donations and preparing the items to go to the sales floor. Volunteers split into groups based on the tasks that must be completed. The Assistance League just finished a big project preparing handbags for a sale on August 6th. She explained that her choice of project tells us this about her personality, “I think it tells that I like to help others. I believe a small kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life.” She stated that her project fits best into her schedule because it’s the 2nd Saturday of the month. “It helps knowing I have made this commitment on this particular day of the month.”

Janet recommends volunteering to anyone because in her words, “We all have the gift of giving back.” Janet further divulged the importance of volunteering “Volunteering gives you that good feeling of knowing that you have helped someone else besides yourself. There are some people that may need a little bit more than others.” Volunteering at HOC makes Janet feel good. She asks herself a very self-reflecting question about her service “I always ask myself at the end of the day, did I help someone? I can honestly say yes, I did help and I‘m happy I was able to fill a need in their lives.” She recommends HOC because the projects they provide are very organized. Due to the positive impact HOC has had on her life she’s introduced the organization to family and friends. She says she now has family and friends who volunteer at HOC on a regular basis. Janet Driskell is a volunteer for HOC but she’s also a helper and that comes natural to her. She loves to help people and wants to make a difference in their lives.

  • Breannon Wills an Aspiring Author and Creative Enthusiast, who hopes to one day start a creative children’s non-profit organization


Angie’s Story – McGill Rose Garden

Traveling down to Southpark I met the volunteer leader for the McGill Rose Garden project: Angie Simpson. A native of Peoria Illinois, Angie has been leading this very popular project for nearly a decade now with absolutely no sign of slowing down at all. Angie found Hands On Charlotte after getting laid off from her previous job and looking to keep herself occupied while she looked for a new career. A construction lead for Habitat for Humanity as well as volunteer leader for Hands On Charlotte Angie keeps very busy. “Idle” is not a word to describe this remarkably lady and I’m very glad I got a chance to learn more about her.

After agreeing to meet me at a local Pandera Bread Angie explained her role as project leader “I tell them they won’t like me the next day because my project involves lots of hard work. Stacking rocks, pulling weeds and packing down the soil; all makes you very sore the next day.” So is she a sort of gardening drill sergeant? Hardly. The McGill Rose Garden is the last city owned garden in Charlotte and it’s preservation rests solely in the hands of volunteers. “I think it brings something special to the people living there, especially the kids” Angie explained to me. “I get everyone involved and doing what needs to be done. I make sure everyone has a job and the work gets done, it’s a lot of fun once you get into it.” As to the appeal of her project Angie explained further “You can see immediate results. You look back at the work you’ve done and it’s obvious that you’ve made a clear impact. That’s the benefit of physical labor, you see you’ve done real work and you feel it the next day too.”

McGill Rose Garden

McGill Rose Garden

Angie’s passion is certainly contagious, she hadn’t even finished the cookie she’d ordered before she had me wanting to pick up a pair of hedge clippers and shuffle off to make nature beautiful. Now as volunteers we’re all passionate, it’s a given that nobody goes to do actual work for free without a good reason. With Angie however I think it goes deeper, to find a cause that you truly believe in is a real blessing. So I asked Angie why she did it and got a very exact answer “All the other gardens Charlotte owned became Starbucks or Walmarts. If McGill Rose Garden goes away then it’s gone for good. Whatever goes up in its place will be tacky and add nothing to the community. Hands On Charlotte goes in and does the hard work that’s required to maintain the garden and keeping it going for the future.” Angie further explained “My project allows children to participate provided their parents monitor them. It lets families come out and do something together on a Saturday morning. We get a lot of kids doing service requirements from school and they’re so energetic and ready to go.” As project leader for a project that works with children I can most certainly appreciate the need to get kids engaged and doing positive activities and I have to commend Angie for this.

The role of Hands On Charlotte in our community both in engaging young people as well as making a lasting difference in our area is also clear to Angie. I always love hearing views on our organization and Angie leaves no room for doubt at all on hers “The need for volunteers in Charlotte is obvious. There’s plenty to be done, and lots of eager people out there wanting to do some good. Hands On Charlotte’s job is to facilitate the supply getting to the demand.” I agree with her the demand is out there, there’s a thousand things Charlotte needs and recruiting the people to fill the need is a massive task. Eventually all volunteers call it a day and step back from their projects. I asked Angie if she ever saw herself backing away from the rose garden and got a frank response: “I’ll stop when it’s no longer fun, I’m having a ball now though so it’s not happening anytime soon.” I can relate to that sentiment and respect the woman who’s been making a difference in our community for so long. It’s clear to me that the McGill Rose Garden is in great hands with Angie at the helm.

  • Ben Burton is a Hands On Charlotte Volunteer Leader for The Relatives project.

Stephen’s Story: the Philadelphia Transplant

It’s no great mystery that a lot of the people you meet in Charlotte didn’t originate in the Queen City. We are a growing city, and that growth comes from people moving here to start new chapters in their lives and add something to our town. When Stephen Yacksoe moved down here from Philadelphia one of the biggest things he brought was a passion to serve and help others. Stephen is a fresh faced young man who looks a lot younger than his actual age due to exercise and healthy diet. At 28, he has sometimes been mistaken for a kid at his favorite project, The Relatives. Stephen and I are both project leaders for Hands On Charlotte at The Relatives, a youth crisis center for “at risk” children. I first met him over a year ago when he wandered into one of my events and his personal magnetism was obvious then. I was very glad to have a chance to sit down and chat with him about The Relatives, Hands On Charlotte, and volunteering in general.

Stephen is the young man on the right. Not my kid!

Stephen is the young man on the right. Not my kid!

“Why volunteer?” I start with as we settle into our booth at a local pizzeria, “Why spend your time with kids who aren’t yours and you’ve no obligation to help?” Stephen (whose youthful appearance once got him mistaken as being MY son) doesn’t hesitate: “I’m doing this because it’s FUN, I enjoy playing with the kids and beating them in Four Square and playing basketball with them.” Of all the answers I’ve ever gotten to this question, Stephen’s makes the most sense and is the single most important reason. If you don’t enjoy your project, find another project. The analogy Stephen used to elaborate on this holds true as well: “When you donate blood, sure you feel good about it, but it’s not a particularly enjoyable experience. Playing with kids is loads of fun and you get that sense of accomplishment too.” But of course there’s more to it than fun for us Relatives veterans: “You get to make a real difference, these kids rotate in and out of The Relatives but those that come back remember us and know to expect us on Thursdays. We’re the only group that just lets them be kids and do what they want instead of lecturing them. It’s great to see them remember you and look forward to your visit.”

Hands On Charlotte was Stephen’s first introduction to Charlotte volunteering. “I volunteered at homeless shelters back home, when I got here I sent messages to about half a dozen groups but HOC was the first and only agency to get back to me. I got an email from the main office in about a day and was signed up for orientation immediately.” Stephen makes an important point here: too often we can get so caught up in our lives we overlook the new guy wanting to help. A good volunteer organization such as Hands On Charlotte knows that you get precisely one shot at a first impression, and follows up accordingly. Stephen continued speaking on the matter: “The other big thing, I think our biggest strength actually is our calendar and how well maintained it is. The variety of projects and the ease of signing up is remarkable, I don’t think anyone else provides that.”

I always like to ask volunteers where Hands On Charlotte’s future lies. You get some interesting responses and Stephen is no exception here. “I think we’ll continue to grow and expand our areas of volunteering. I also believe we’re in a perfect position to connect the dots with other organizations and step into a role as a leader in Charlotte volunteering.” I agree with Stephen that this is well within Hands On Charlotte’s ability to accomplish and I also see us becoming more of a standard bearer for non-profits in the area. At the present, however, we have an important role to fill in introducing a lot of first time volunteers to the benefits and joys of service.

Over pizza and salad Stephen and I joked a lot about our favorite experiences at The Relatives, not least my continued assumed fatherhood. Our repeated use of the outdoor grill on site has let us shake up the usual dinner practices for the kids and our random walks to the frozen yogurt shop down the street are always popular as well. The main thing, however, is to provide volunteers the chance to make a real difference with kids who need positive adults in their lives. On this front Stephen excels as a project leader, and I for one am supremely happy Hands On Charlotte was the first to answer his call.

  • Ben Burton is a Hands On Charlotte Volunteer Leader for The Relatives project along with Stephen and Amir.

Josh’s Story

Very often as volunteers we can feel overwhelmed by all the projects and causes that need our attention, it’s easy to get discouraged. This happens with organizations such as Hands On Charlotte, we lose sight of what it is we’re doing and why. With that in mind I decided to start talking with some of the people who make Hands On Charlotte great and ask them why it is they do what they do. I’ve been with HOC for just under two years now and wanted to know others experiences out there doing a little bit of good at a time.

My first stop on this adventure was the University area of North Charlotte to meet a young man named Joshua Gatlin. It’s really easy to like Joshua; he’s a laid back and super friendly guy who works for the Sheriff’s Office. At 22 years old Joshua has been with Hands On Charlotte since last October and he’s made it very clear where his interests in volunteering lie: “I think it’s really important that kids now a days have a positive reinforcement in their lives, that they have someone helping them and encouraging them” he tells me as we order lunch. Joshua volunteers with HomeWork Hounds at Beatties Ford Road Library and helps kids understand the basics of reading and math. He also volunteers at CPCC tutoring adults trying for the GEDs. I could tell he’s passionate about helping others beat the odds “So long as you’re trying then I believe you should get the help you need to better yourself” he stated as we wondered where our waitress went.

However the biggest question that we’re all asked is “Why?” Why is it we donate thousands of hours of our time every year to help absolute strangers? Joshua had a good answer for this one: “You feel better about yourself, you get to know that you’re making a difference and that you matter to someone at least. It’s a great feeling.” I can certainly agree with his sentiments there, volunteering gives us a means to show that we’ve made a small difference in the world and that’s a strong feeling. As a Criminal Justice major it’s obvious Joshua has a strong desire to give back to the world and to help those in need. “I’d like to work at the jail downtown and try to help some of the guys there get their lives together and make something positive, maybe change the direction that got them locked up” he tells me as we wait for the fries I ordered twenty minutes ago. Tutoring kids and adults working on a GED is one thing, but reaching out to criminals? Maybe a lofty goal but not one I see as being outside this young guys reach. He’s certainly got the drive and skills for it as evidenced by his work with Hands On Charlotte already.

One question I get asked a lot about Hands On Charlotte and that I posed to Joshua is who we are and what we’re all about. Joshua smiled as he thought about it before answering “What you have to do first is decide why you’re doing this. If you know the why then you know who you are.” He explained that Hands On Charlotte’s greatest strength came from the diversity of its volunteers, hundreds coming together with no other thing in common than a desire to help. Our reasons for volunteering, don’t matter, what makes Hands On Charlotte great is that we’re all here to do some good. I thought on that for a moment and realized he’s absolutely correct, as a volunteer leader myself I get to know my volunteers as best I can and I can’t attest to any single common denominator other than they showed up to help. I suppose Hands On Charlotte is a reminder that we’re not alone in the struggle to make this world we live in a better place. People from all walks of life are out there giving up what precious free time they have to make it all work. I’m very grateful I had this chat with Joshua, it helped remind me of why we do this, even if the waitress never did get our orders right.

  • Ben Burton is a Hands On Charlotte Volunteer Leader for The Relatives project.

Vote daily through 6/17 to help us win $10K from Fluor for the Charlotte Playground Build!

14th Playground Build Logo crop 3072 x 1258


Hands On Charlotte is partnering with the Business Volunteer Council again this year on the 14th Annual Charlotte Playground Build, which will be held October 14 at Blythe Elementary School in Huntersville.

Our Playground Build has been selected as one of 30 finalists for a $10,000 grant from Fluor’s Global Community Project Fund. Winners will be selected by worldwide public voting, which began today at community-fund.fluor.com and will continue through June 17.

Please join us in voting for the Playground Build (one vote every 24 hours on each device, browser or mobile app that can access the page) and in promoting this opportunity via social media and your other networks! There’s more detailed information about our project at www.handsoncharlotte.org/Playground and at http://community-fund.fluor.com/community-project-detail?pid=623

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