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Volunteers – Making a Difference – Changing Lives!

It’s Just Plain ‘Good!’

‘Karen and Jay describe the many positive benefits of volunteering and show their enthusiasm for getting involved!'

“Helping others.” Typically, when we think about volunteering, we immediately conjure up thoughts about the good that can be done by helping others. Pitching in to make a difference and supporting a worthy cause in need of help. And, while this is true – and the most obvious benefit of volunteering, there at least two other important outcomes that occur when you get involved and volunteer.

One of these derives from the people you meet – especially your fellow volunteers. You’re joining into a group effort – centered around a worthy cause and largely working alongside volunteers who share your core values. You get to meet them, interact, become friends, and who knows? Good things just seem to happen as a result.

Meanwhile, beyond the impact you have in helping others and the untold benefits that derive from interacting with like-minded volunteers, there is perhaps the most important outcome of all. It’s how the volunteering experience makes you feel about yourself. It just makes you feel good, knowing that you are making a positive contribution the world. You’re active. You’re making a difference!

As I’ve actually experienced, volunteering is a noble act that not only benefits the communities and causes it serves but also has a profound impact on the lives of individuals who choose to give their time and skills to help others. One of the most compelling reasons to volunteer is the sense of fulfillment and purpose it brings. When we engage in acts of kindness and selflessness, we experience a deep satisfaction that often eludes us in our daily routines. Volunteering offers an opportunity to make a positive difference in the world, and it is this sense of contributing to something larger than ourselves that can lead to a profound transformation in our own lives.

In speaking with a friend, here was her personal experience that illustrates how volunteering is a testament to the transformative power of giving. Several years ago, she began volunteering at a local animal shelter. She had always loved animals, but had never realized how much joy and fulfillment they could bring to her life until she started dedicating her time to their care. The shelter was home to countless dogs and cats in need of love and attention, and as she spent time with them, she witnessed their resilience and capacity to trust, even after experiencing difficult circumstances. She recounts how this experience not only deepened her love for animals but also taught her valuable lessons about empathy, compassion, and the importance of nurturing the vulnerable in our society.

Another significant benefit of volunteering is the opportunity it provides for personal growth and skill development. Volunteering often requires individuals to step out of their comfort zones and take on new challenges. It allows them to hone existing skills and acquire new ones, from communication and leadership to problem-solving and teamwork. In the case of my friend, volunteering at the animal shelter improved her ability to connect with others, both human and animal, and taught her patience, perseverance, and resilience in the face of adversity.

Volunteering can also be a gateway to new friendships and a sense of community. When individuals come together to work toward a common goal, they form strong bonds that extend beyond their volunteering activities. I, too, have forged lasting friendships with fellow volunteers and experienced a sense of belonging and shared purpose that have enriched my life in unexpected ways. These friendships have provided a support network in times of need and have expanded my social circle in meaningful ways. And, I suspect you may have had similar experiences as you have engaged in volunteering efforts.

We at the Sunshine Initiative are huge proponents of volunteering, as I’m sure you can tell. The benefits of are numerous and far-reaching. The fulfillment, personal growth, and sense of community that volunteering offers are invaluable. I wholeheartedly encourage us all to embark on our own volunteer journeys to experience these benefits firsthand. It’s an uplifting and energizing experience for all involved!

Sunshine Food Drive – Helping Sullivan County and Beyond!

In these final months of the year, the Sunshine Initiative is organizing something fun, exciting, and certainly a worthwhile cause. We hope you all will join us!

We at the Sunshine Initiative hold the philosophy that positive energy inspires positive change, which in turn, produces positive results. With that in mind, in collaboration with our Sunshine Communications—home to the Eagle Times, Newport Times Online, and the Newport Argus—and along with local businesses, the Sunshine Initiative is spearheading our 2023 Sunshine Food Drive to support local food pantries.

Food insecurity is a real struggle in so many communities around our country – including right here in the Sullivan County region (as illustrated in the information below), and we want to do something about it. We are marshalling an army of volunteers to join in the effort, gathering food from hundreds of generous donors and in turn, providing vital food supplies to four local pantries we are donating to: The Claremont Soup Kitchen, the Newport Area Association of Churches, the Springfield Family Center, and the Town of Sunapee.

Sullivan County food insecurity by the numbers:

  • Insecurity rate: 9.0 percent

  • Insecure population: 3,880 people

  • Cost per meal: $3.67

  • Annual food budget shortfall: $2,513,000

Items that the pantries are looking for currently include: Fruit juice and snacks, bread and muffin mixes, canned meats, Thanksgiving-themed items (canned pumpkin, stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, etc.), canned proteins, mac and cheese boxes, pasta, peanut butter and jelly, canned soup, cold and hot cereal, canned tomato products, number ten cans of any veggies, sauces, or beans.

With the holiday season coming soon, we need your help to ensure no one goes hungry this very special time of the year!

To make this a success, we need many hands, and if you are interested, please click the links below: To volunteer: Volunteer for Sunshine Food Drive

Or to make a monetary donation: Donate to the Sunshine Food Drive

Thank you for your generous support of this effort to do good and help those in need enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunshine Volunteer Management Systems – Scaling Our Efforts

Something that the Sunshine Initiative aspires to excel at – actually better than anyone else – is our volunteer management system. This includes developing an ever-growing base of people who are committed to volunteering in the various communities we're working in; finding or developing opportunities to volunteer, and then, probably one of the most underappreciated aspects, is the tracking and management of these volunteers. We are using two amazing platforms and apps that will help us do all of this by reaching two different age groups.

Jack Potvin, one of our very own here at the Sunshine Initiative, is rapidly gaining recognition in the volunteering space. Project Happy is an innovative nonprofit startup (founded by Jack and several other recent UNH alums) on a mission to inspire thousands of youths to live happier and more community-connected lives through passion and career-aligned volunteering. The program is designed to make volunteering easy, fun, trackable, and socially ‘cool’ – primarily targeted for high school age young adults.

After launching a compelling mobile app (to reach youth where they are and lower barriers to involvement) and partnering with the NH Department of Education for a statewide rollout, Project Happy has become the go-to place for New Hampshire nonprofits and communities to meet the next generation volunteer force.

Project Happy is launching in over a dozen communities across New Hampshire this fall, largely in conjunction with high schools, and offering its services to the community cost-free. It shouldn't be hard to do local good! So, from matching a dozen club members to an opportunity to install hundreds of smoke alarms for needy folks in the Seacoast, to helping a group of friends single-handedly marshal a large charity road race at the last minute, to helping social-savvy students craft impactful social media content to spread the word for nonprofits they volunteer with, Project Happy is the central place for NH youth to get meaningfully involved in their communities.

Jack has also been spearheading an effort along with Brian Hettrick to help us drive some consolidation around the platforms that nonprofits use. We looked at a number of volunteer management system platforms and settled on Point (, which is a highly flexible tool used by thousands of nonprofits across the US to help manage, engage, and mobilize volunteers. As Point's website says, "We provide powerful free tech to nonprofits so you can grow your impact." We're currently using Point to assist with the Sunshine Food Drive mentioned in the previous article. The concept is that while Project Happy primarily serves the high school age volunteers, Point is meant to include volunteers truly of all ages – and provide a comprehensive volunteer management capability.

We see the combination of Project Happy along with Point providing the Sunshine Initiative with powerful technology to truly become leaders in the volunteer management space. And in doing so, it will provide the platform to scale as the Sunshine Initiative starts to work in communities across the US – with our Vision to be in 1,000 communities by 2026!

Positive Profile of the Week: Hillary Seeger

This week, we are delighted to highlight an individual who truly exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism here in the Granite State – my friend, Hillary Seeger!

Hillary Seeger is a tireless individual committed to her community and to ensuring the best for all those in her community and beyond. An Air Force veteran, she knows and cares deeply about service, and that is why she dedicates so much of her time today to giving back and supporting veteran causes throughout New Hampshire and across the nation. Even in her small town, she has served in several roles and capacities at her local VFW and plays an instrumental role in ensuring that veterans have the care and services they truly deserve.

A staple in the community and around New Hampshire, Hillary’s dependable and supportive nature makes her a go-to for key endorsements for any political candidate wanting to seek public office. From the White House to the State House, Hillary and her husband Tim can be seen holding signs, attending events, encouraging people to get involved, and doing everything they can to ensure the person they support and believe in crosses the finish line first on election day.

Hillary never stops and truly is the fuel that fires inspiration and positivity when it comes to making a difference in the community. She has served in town and local government herself and is a steadfast leader. Someone whose many positive attributes we can admire. Hilary is also a small business owner herself and understands the fundamentals of fiscal responsibility and accountability.

I am blessed, like so many, to call her a friend. I truly believe that if we want to solve the world's toughest problems, one great way to get there is to have so very many more Hillary Seeger’s.

Quotes of the Week: Volunteering

"Volunteering is the most fundamental act of citizenship and philanthropy in our society. It is offering time, energy, and skills of one's own free will. It advances both the common good and the quality of the individual volunteer's life." — Sue Hine "Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in." — Marjorie Moore "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." — Mahatma Gandhi

"Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart." — Elizabeth Andrew "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." — Pablo Picasso


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