October 18, 2005 > Make a difference in your community
Make a difference in your community
by Mekala Raman
On Saturday, Oct. 22, the annual Make a Difference Day will be launched for the 15th year since its beginning in 1990. It was initiated one and a half decades ago by the USA Weekend magazine and Points of Light, and celebrates the unity of a diverse community and neighbors helping neighbors. Community members are encouraged to volunteer either individually, or in groups of any size. This is a worldwide event and multicultural volunteering activities are encouraged (U.S. military personnel stationed abroad can also help out on Make a Difference Day) and as many as 3 million people have participated in the past.
As a motivation for people to volunteer in their neighborhood, actor Paul Newman, a supporter of Make a Difference Day, offers a reward of $10,000 to 10 selected projects. Many other groups appeared in the USA Weekend's April edition (during National Volunteer Week) and on their website. Those selected for a Make a Difference Day award participate in an awards ceremony and may attend events in Washington, D.C. during National Volunteer Week in April. All participating groups and individuals who wish to be considered for an award must turn in an entry form.
"The city of Fremont's Human Relations Commission invites residents of all
backgrounds and ages, to carry out a volunteer project and celebrate unity in diversity in the city of Fremont through community service," says Seema Barman, facilitator for the event in Fremont. This makes the fourth year that the commission has sponsored Make a Difference Day. Other groups sponsoring the event in Fremont include the Sisters of the Holy Family, the Dominican Sisters, the Islamic Society of the East Bay, American Animal Care Center, and the Human Relations Commission.
Make a Difference Day is an opportunity to find any way to give back to your community. Even the smallest project can help in some way, and is worthwhile as long as you have fun while doing it. Last year, Fremont sported a record number of more than 47 registered projects involving over 1300 volunteers. Residents did everything from planting trees and improving trails to donating blood and preparing for disasters. In addition to adult organizations, even high school students pitch in. This year, a Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP) class will take place in Mission San Jose High school where students, parents, and general community members alike learn about emergency preparedness as well as raise funds for hurricane victims.
To find a project go to www.makeadifferenceday.com and join in on one of the projects listed on the website in the "DAYtaBANK" section or use existing projects for ideas to make one of your own. If you have a project you are interesting in chairing, put the information on the same website. Local businesses are encouraged to participate in Make a Difference Day to help the community they cater to. They can use employees as volunteers or donate to another project.
Although Fremont lists a number of registered projects for the day, opportunities also exist in neighboring cities. The city of Union City is soliciting projects to accomplish during this day and a number of areas have been identified as needing help. Milpitas and Hayward have projects planned as well.
If you would like more information about Make a Difference Day plans in Fremont, contact the local facilitator, Seema Barman, at (510) 574-2099 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Friends of Heirloom Flowers Garden Club needs your help to maintain the gardens surrounding the historical Shinn House. Bring your tools, and, with two hours work, tour the Shinn House for free. Shinn House is located at 1251 Peralta Blvd. in Fremont; Make A Difference Day activities will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information call Denise at (510) 792-2923.
Union City has identified several locations in need of improvement: the Community Gardens (off of Appian Way), Dry Creek Cottage (off Mission Blvd.), Contempo Park (3200 Meteor Drive) and the Tamarack and Mission Blvd area. Volunteers will remove vegetation, plant shrubs and trees; remove old fencing and signs, and stencil "Only rain in the drain" messages on nearby storm drains. It's not too late to register to volunteer. Help make a difference by calling (510) 489-9468 for more information.
In Milpitas, Curtner Elementary School at 275 Redwood Avenue volunteers will help spruce up the school, plant trees, flowers, and clean-up the school area between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Ages 10 and up are welcome with a parent. Call (408) 586-3207.
In Hayward, please call (510) 885-2949 to learn how you can help with projects planned throughout the city. Contact Newark at (510) 793-1400 to ask about Make-A-Difference Day activities.