Volunteer Hub

Hi there! I’m Sandra Ostad, CitySquare’s Volunteer Coordinator. Did you know CitySquare requires a minimum of 40 volunteers a day to fight poverty in Dallas? To help you get involved, I’ll be posting weekly updates and opportunities here on the CitySquare Volunteer Hub. So take a look around and feel free to contact me at 214.303.2146 or SOstad@CitySquare.org if you need more information.

CitySquare Volunteer Blog

Do you want to get involved with volunteering but don’t know where to start? This is the event for you! For the fourth year in a row, VolunteerNow is hosting the biggest volunteerism festival in North Texas. With 75 nonprofit agencies offering hands-on volunteer projects, there is no better place to start.

CitySquare will have a booth, and we would love your support. On site, Josh Kim and I will be sharing information about how to get involved in CitySquare’s Food on the Move program this summer.

There will be prizes, entertainment, and lots of fun activities for kids of all ages. The event will take place Saturday, June 3, 2017 from noon to 4 p.m. at Klyde Warren Park. So mark your calendar, grab a friend or family member, bring your smile, and come support CitySquare in the park!

For the second time this year, American Airlines employees volunteered with CitySquare to serve and support our neighbors. In February, a team from American Airlines served lunch to our neighbors at Church at the Square. This week, they came back with a large group excited to get involved and learn more about CitySquare.

One half of the group served at CitySquare’s Food Pantry while the other half worked in the community garden at CitySquare’s Clinic. The group at the Clinic also helped prepare for that evening’s Mother’s Day event.

The American Airlines team brought lots of positive energy as they volunteered a combined total of over 100 hours. We thank you for joining us in the fight against poverty! We hope to see you again soon.

Summer is right around the corner, which means we’re getting ready to start our Food on the Move program. This week, we had a great volunteer group from Aon come out and wash our Food on the Move vans making sure the vans are clean and ready for summer.

As a part of the ongoing effort to build communities and reduce the number of hungry children in the Dallas area, our Food on the Move team is gearing up to serve this summer. For those of you that are not familiar with the program, CitySquare Food on the Move provides nutritious meals to children in afterschool programs and when free or reduced price school meals are not available in the summer. In partnership with CitySquare AmeriCorps, meals in the summer are provided to community sites where children are also engaged in enrichment activities.

Last year, we served over 85,000 meals to more than 3,500 kids! We plan on serving even more children and meals this year, but we can’t do it alone. We need volunteers! The program runs from June 12th to August 11th. Volunteers are needed Monday-Friday 9:30-5:30pm.

If you are ready to join the movement to fight hunger and help us make a difference, please complete our Food on the Move application.

I look forward to receiving your application!

115,304. That’s the number of meals the Mars-Wrigley sales team put together for CitySquare in only one hour!

In partnership with The Pack Shack and the Omni Dallas Hotel, Mars-Wrigley hosted a mega “Feed the Funnel” party benefiting CitySquare. CitySquare staff had the opportunity to be a part of this event by assisting with logistics and prep work prior to the party. As a part of Mars-Wrigley’s annual sales conference in Dallas, the organization wanted to conduct a volunteer opportunity with all 700 employees. Luckily for CitySquare, The Pack Shack was up for the challenge and helped us organize a Feed the Funnel Party for the large group.

During the group’s one hour of service, the Mars-Wrigley staff sang, danced and packed thousands of meals. Every Pack Shack meal contains at least 10 grams of protein per serving and includes 19 essential vitamins and minerals. These meals will be available at our Food Pantry and distributed to kids and their families during our summer meal program, Food on the Move.

We cannot thank Mars-Wrigley and The Pack Shack enough for putting this together for our neighbors!

This week is a special shout-out to one of our partners, Highland Park United Methodist Church (HPUMC). The past two weeks, CitySquare hosted three volunteer groups from different departments at HPUMC. In addition, we have seen several individuals and families get involved at the Food Pantry and the Thrift Store.

In April alone, a total of 41 people associated with HPUMC have volunteered more than 100 hours! This deserves a special thank you and recognition. We appreciate all of our volunteers, but it is very special when partner organizations invest time and energy serving side by side with us. For that, we thank you.

Last year, CitySquare partnered with Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep School and the school’s Corporate Work Study Program. This program allows high school students to gain valuable hands-on work experience with different agencies and organizations. For the first two years of the program, two students have been assigned to work at CitySquare for the entire school year. This year’s students, Isaac and Shani, have been a tremendous resource for us at the Food Pantry and at our Welcome Center in building 100. Shani and Isaac, have worked closely with CitySquare’s Opportunity Center Site Coordinator, Andrea DeLeon. Andrea has been their biggest supporter, assisting and encouraging the students.

This week, the students gave a school presentation where they highlighted their experiences and skills gained while working with us. It’s been a joy having them with us so far, and we are proud to have them on our team!

April is National Volunteer Appreciation month, which means it is time to celebrate you. We could not do what we do without the commitment and support from our volunteers. On the behalf of CitySquare and our staff, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers for your support and hard work!

To honor volunteer appreciation month, we are offering 20% discount on all CitySquare t-shirts during the month of April. Please visit our store, pick out your shirt and use the discount code VOLUNTEER (all caps) to receive 20% off your order.

In addition to this modest gesture, we will also show some love for our volunteers on the last week of April by offering snacks and treats at the Food Pantry. Please stop by the Pantry between Tuesday, April 25th and Friday, April 28th to enjoy coffee and treats on us. First come, first serve. The Pantry opens at 9am. Anyone is welcome to volunteer and grab a treat.

Thank you for all your support!

CitySquare’s mission is to fight the causes and effects of poverty through service, advocacy, and friendship. One of our programs that contribute to making an impact is our AmeriCorps program. With the support of the OneStar Foundation, CitySquare operates the largest AmeriCorps program in North Texas with more than 300 AmeriCorps members each year.

Every summer starting in June, our AmeriCorps and our food programs partner to provide thousands of kids access to nutritious meals through our Food on the Move program. In addition to providing food, AmeriCorps members also engage the kids in enrichment activities and play all summer long.

If you are 17 years or older, a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident, and want to make a difference in the community this summer, this is the program for you! All applicants interested need to complete an application, complete an interview with staff at CitySquare and host site if needed before formal confirmation. Anyone interested in joining Food on the Move must be willing to serve outside all day in the heat, be energetic, and have reliable transportation. In return, all members receive a small living allowance ($1,800 for the entire summer) and an Education Award ($1,222) that can be used for future higher education tuition.

Please visit the AmeriCorps page for more information and apply today!

Like any non-profit, CitySquare depends on our committed volunteers and interns. With 17 programs, there are a many unique ways to get involved with CitySquare. One of the ways to get involved is by applying for one of our internships. Earlier this week, we posted two internships available for summer. Both internships are with our Food Programs. As an intern with our Food Pantry, you will learn about food insecurity, the health issues of living in a food desert and how CitySquare work to provide our community with nutritious food. Our Food Pantry distributed 1.3 million pounds last year and we are constantly working to expand and find ways to become more efficient and feed more people. This internship is for anyone who wants to spend their summer being a part of an energetic team, working in a fast-paced environment and interacting with people from all walks of life.

If you like children and believe that every child has the right to a healthy meal all year around, Food on the Move (FOM) is the program for you. As a FOM intern, you will be working closely with our staff in the child food program and our AmeriCorps members that help us run Food on the Move in the summer. You will have an opportunity to be a part of a program that last year delivered over 85,000 meals to more than 3,500 kids in the DFW area.

Visit our career page for more information and learn how to apply for one of these internships.

Yesterday, we had the pleasure to sit down with a group of vibrant ladies from Holmes Murphy to brainstorm this year’s CitySquarestruction. For the third year in a row, Holmes Murphy will be hosting CitySquarestruction this summer. CitySquarestruction is a fun and engaging team-building event benefitting the community. Employees are divided into groups and compete against each other. The idea behind the event is to collect and buy different items that CitySquare neighbors need and build a structure or scene using only those items. Based on certain criteria, such as creativity and use of items, a team from CitySquare chooses the winning group, who then gets bragging rights for the rest of the year. All items used to build each structure are then donated to CitySquare benefitting our neighbors.

This year’s Holmes Murphy competition will take place in July, so check back then to see pictures of their creations and donations to CitySquare.

If you are looking for a fun team building event for your group or organization and want more information about what it takes to host a CitySquarestruction, please reach out to me at SOstad@CitySquare.org.

As I am preparing for another volunteer orientation this weekend, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about our front desk volunteers and what it means to be a front desk volunteer with CitySquare. I had some time earlier this week to sit down and talk with Alexis, a committed volunteer who has been with us for close to a year. Every week, she volunteers her time to welcome our neighbors as they arrive at the Welcome Center at the Opportunity Center. Alexis’ best advice to anyone who is thinking of getting involved as a front desk volunteer is to be patient and not take anything personally. She claims her previous job working at the counter for American Airlines prepared her well for this position. Her favorite thing about the position is the time she gets to interact with and get to know our neighbors. Willie, one of our neighbors, was at the Welcome Center when we visited with Alexis. He has become a part of the CitySquare family. Alexis even baked him a cake on his birthday, which says a lot about CitySquare and our community.

Charles is one of our other front desk volunteers. He helps out at the front desk at CityWalk@Akard where he greets neighbors and guests and helps them connect with the right people at CitySquare. Charles also helps with administrative tasks such as data entry and addressing envelopes. Charles started volunteering at CityWalk six weeks ago after learning of CitySquare and coming to find out about nutrition assistance. “For many of us, it’s difficult to receive without giving back, so I offered to assist and have been volunteering here [ever since].”

This is definitely not an ordinary volunteer role. We depend on our volunteers to help us fill in the gaps when staff aren’t available or are assisting other neighbors. We are so grateful for those who are regular volunteers that become a part of the CitySquare family.

In recent years, high schools, colleges, and religious organizations around the country have started offering alternative spring breaks. Instead of sending students off on a ski-trip or beach vacation, students are given the opportunity to give back by volunteering or learning about social issues. This week and next week, youth from Richardson East are spending a day of their spring break with CitySquare. The first group visited with us yesterday. The day started with a mini-tour of the Opportunity Center and continued with the students volunteering a few hours at the Food Pantry. Mid-day, the students were escorted by Edd Eason, Assistant Vice-President for Health & Housing, and our Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), to a close encampment to share a meal and talk to our homeless neighbors. The day ended with a conversation with one of our neighbors at CityWalk@Akard and a quick briefing for the students to share their thoughts about the day. It was an impactful day for the young group from Richardson East. CitySquare is thankful for their assistance at the Pantry and the care they showed for our neighbors.

“It’s inspiring to see that even though all these bad things have happened to them they can still wake up every day and be grateful for what they do have,” said Taryn, one of the young volunteers.

Today, I finally had the chance to meet with the Notre Dame School student volunteers at the CitySquare Food Pantry.

Three times a week, the school’s teacher and job coach Donna Maguire brings an incredibly hard-working and positive group of five students to the Food Pantry, where they assist with sorting and bagging produce deliveries for neighbors in need.

As the students help give neighbors access to nutritious food, they also gain work experience by learning about food handling and packaging requirements.

Several have used their experience at the Food Pantry to successfully pursue jobs at Trader Joe’s and other local stores.

After volunteering for six weeks, Coach Donna and her kids have become a vital part of the operation at CitySquare.

The CitySquare Clinic serves as a community center for neighborhood youth in south Dallas. This week’s shout-out goes to those young folks, who dedicate their spare time at the clinic to tending the community garden or, as in the video below, assembling first aid packets to be given to new patients. Big thanks to these young volunteers for giving their time.
Earlier this month, Boy Scouts collected food and stocked the CitySquare Food Pantry as part of the annual Scouting For Food campaign. Scouts across the Dallas community collected food donations from generous families who were dropping their children off at school. The CitySquare Food on the Move picked up nearly 600 lbs of food from the collection sites. CitySquare is so thankful for the support of these young scouts and the families that donated. Together, this is how we fight poverty.