Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hands on Maui - Promoting Easier Ways to Volunteer

Hands on Maui Volunteer Expo Flyer recently spotted at the Habitat For Humanity Restore

While visiting the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Wailuku, I saw this flyer on the wall inside the store. Wow! A Hands On Maui organization.  I actually knew what this organization was about, or had a pretty good idea.

Years ago, when I was fresh out of college, I worked for Philadelphia Cares, now called Greater Philadelphia Cares, a nonprofit organization that promoted innovative and easily ways to volunteer. Philadelphia Cares was part of the larger Hands On Network, a group of organizations across the country and the world, which promotes volunteer opportunities on a one-time or multiple basis, without the hassle of long-term time commitments or the necessity of intensive training. We published a monthly calendar of volunteer opportunities, some as short as 1 or 2 hours so that people could dive right in, after a one-time orientation and minimal paperwork, and volunteer at places as diverse as the Food Bank, homeless shelters, schools, reading clinics, libraries, senior centers, and hospitals.  We always provided supervision at each project, and it didn't require a lot of effort for the participating organizations. Volunteering without the hassle is a very beautiful concept.

For a while I thought about founding a similar nonprofit in Hawaii, but the work to create a nonprofit is tremendous and expensive, and truth be told, I didn't want it badly enough.

So, I'm really pleased to see that someone else wanted a Hands on Maui badly enough to create it.  The surprise is that Hands on Maui was created under the County government. I realize I'm just biased because I worked for a very charismatic executive director who left the business world, and the entire feeling of that Philadelphia workplace reflected the driving energy of a start-up business rather than a typical grant-funded nonprofit. The structure of the Hands On Maui website is also different, since the site doesn't showcase a monthly calendar of volunteer opportunities, but instead lists each participating organization.  So what?  Hands on Maui is young and still developing its own style.  I'm pleased to see my tax dollars going to something worthwhile.

Today (Saturday), October 29th, from 11 am to 1 pm, Hands on Maui is hosting a volunteer expo at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.  It's a good start for this new organization, and Maui can use the help!


  1. Hi Courtney (I think that's who posts here) Just wanted to say thank you for the blog post. Very informative. I love reading your blog and I am thinking of trying to get one of the last remaining HCG plots. I moved here 6mo ago from Seattle and live up Pi'Iholo Rd in Makawao. Avid gardener and volunteer (Haku Baldwin Center) and would love to meet like-minded individuals in real life. Thanks for the great blog! Elise

  2. Wow, thanks Elise! I think the community garden is now on a waiting list for new members, but definitely sign up on the website. If you'd like to blog about volunteering at the Haku Baldwin Center or something else, let me know!

  3. Thanks Courtney, would love to blog about volunteering at HBC :) Have any guidelines/time frame that you'd like me to set? Are you in Makawao, I guess I haven't read long enough to know exactly where you're blogging from. I'm up Pi'Iholo Rd. Cheers, Elise

  4. Elise, Yes, please blog about HBC. There are no due dates or time frame, although it'd be nice before the end of the year, but no pressure of course. I don't know how to reach you but you could email and I will make a point to check it, then email you an invitation as a guest blogger. This will give you access to post directly under your name, real name or nom de plume.


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