Support community nonprofits by sharing your skills: Community Volunteers of America

By Pam Johnson/ • 03/06/2022 12:27 PM EST

As someone who has used his skills to make a significant impact by helping local charities and nonprofits, Branford’s Ken Engelman has an idea of ​​what can stop others from helping their community: they don’t ‘have simply not considered the skills they possess exactly what it takes.

That’s why he strives to inspire others to get involved locally and spread the word through his Community Volunteers of America (CVA) website, which supports the mission of CVA, a program founded by Engelman. in 2021.

Share your skills

“Having fundraisers and asking people to show up on a Saturday morning is fine, but often there are background wants and needs that local residents could step in to help; because they are experts in those wants and needs. — but I just didn’t think of calling a nonprofit and offering 30 minutes a week,” Engelman said.

Skills can be of a type that most might not think of offering, such as practicing public relations, helping out with creative poster design or other layouts, working on a website, provide social media boosts and much more.

“All residents of all communities have skills and abilities that their local nonprofit organizations could benefit from,
said Engelman. “If you were to ask Siri or Google ‘List local nonprofits near me,’ it would provide them with the names and phone numbers of different nonprofits that they could call and offer to help them. to help.”

Engelman also notes that the concept can extend beyond adults in the community. He will soon begin an effort to reach out to local high schools to promote the idea to students looking for volunteer hours or experiences in the community. Engelman said this kind of service could be as simple as spending 30 minutes a week on your smartphone promoting a charity event or cause on social media.

Start a move

Former Person of the Week (2013), Engelman won a Shore Publishing Beacon Award in 2019 for his local volunteer work, including supporting the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter by creating and managing Woofstock on the Branford Green (2013-2016), Animal Carnival at the Pine Orchard Yacht Club (2014) and Bark-A-Luau at the Owenego Beach Club (2015). Engelman also created the annual Stony Creek Duck Race to benefit the nonprofit Orchard House Adult Medical Day Center.

In November 2021, Engelman announced the creation of CVA, which will be a 501c3 nonprofit organization building on the success of the social media-based volunteer service effort founded in 2020 by Engelman and his friends, #VolunteerItsWhatWeDo. Through its Facebook page and eye-catching vinyl sticker campaign, #VolunteerItsWhatWeDo has “…announced that there is a group of volunteers who are ready to help,” Engelman said. “And that ad started a movement, where people are stepping in now and saying, ‘How can I help?’ and hop on our Facebook page to say what their specialty is and ask how it can help a small local non-profit or charity.”

#VolunteerItsWhatWeDo also allows volunteers and local associations to communicate directly on the page. Between the Facebook group’s page and its #VolunteerItsWhatWeDo sticker ad campaign, the effort has inspired “…many non-volunteers to start volunteering, and I’ve seen new community-based nonprofits kick off, which is very exciting to see,” Engelman said. . “The vinyl stickers were placed on the rear windows of vehicles, restaurant doors and people’s laptops, motivating more people to join our free Facebook group.”

Some of the area nonprofits assisted by Engelman and others through the Facebook group include Orchard House Medical Adult Day Care, Stand Up Speak Out!, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital Toy Closet, CT Department of Family Services, Branford Compassion Club, Branford Early Learning Center, Branford Heat Smart, Community Dining Room, East Haven Food Pantry, Boxes to Boots (overseas military care packages), Motorcycle Relief Project (benefiting veterans), and Pets for Vets, which matches veterans with shelter animals as compassionate pets.

Extend reach and resources with CVA

Engelman’s own experience as a volunteer and nonprofit professional has also shown him that many local charities may not grow beyond a small group of volunteers and/or board members. diligent in gathering resources for wants and needs, outside of traditional fundraising efforts. .

“All nonprofits will ask a community to raise funds, but few nonprofits will ask residents of the community for help by taking what they do in their careers and providing it. as real work that the nonprofit needs,” Engelman said. “For example, a non-profit organization might organize a fundraiser to pay for goods and services. What if those goods and services were provided by community residents who could kindly do the in-kind work, or a small company that could provide the necessary products in- type?”

Engelman said many nonprofits have the inherent ability to benefit a small business and others who meet their needs, by promoting in-kind services or products through shared communications. with supporters, event advertisements, social media mentions and press media outreach. electrical outlets.

“So there’s also a mutual benefit to working together. People often don’t think about supporting local businesses. But if they hear about a local business doing something in kind to help an organization with a local nonprofit, chances are they’ll come to them the next time they need something,” Engelman said. “Richlin’s in Branford is a good example of that. They will donate $2,500 to sponsor Branford’s first annual Cornhole Tournament in July for Orchard House; and [event] advertising can help bring fans to Richlin for shopping.”

More to share via CVA

Engelman has worked to draw people to the CVA website to learn more about how easy it can be to offer help to local charities and nonprofits. He also invites community members to contact him through the website to discuss ideas. The CVA website also accepts donations to help build momentum to promote CVA’s mission as well as to create and provide tools that nonprofits can access online, such as templates for flyers or flyers. other promotional materials.

Engelman hopes CVA’s mission and message will spread across Connecticut and the country.

“Communities helping communities is something we can all do on our own,” Engelman said. “This campaign can start that conversation in Branford, then East Haven and Guilford and it can expand across the state of Connecticut and beyond. I believe a healthy community is a strong community and a strong community is a united community. I would be happy to speak with anyone and explain the value that comes from volunteering locally, and together we will improve the health and well-being of communities from coast to coast . »

Learn more about Community Volunteers of America at

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