While volunteering at the Garden of Tomorrow, I met Jerry Heikens, the founder of a group called the Phoenix Philanthropists, a new organization which provides “man power… brain power… and heart power” to the community. This group reminds me of the Community Volunteer Network volunteer program which I worked for in Arlington County, except that it is open to all age groups. They encourage people to get out and give what they can, even if that means volunteering for one Saturday every few months. They are amazingly prolific, with flexible volunteer opportunities every few days throughout Phoenix. This group gives us an easy way to plug into the community, even as outsiders who are only in Phoenix for a few days at a time.
Last Tuesday we joined the Phoenix Philanthropists in volunteering for the Red Balloon Picnic, an anniversary celebration for the Wellness Community. The Wellness Community provides support for people with cancer and their loved ones. In the short time we were there I saw a few people come to their office for assistance and breathe a sigh of relief to learn about the extensive network of support they have available for absolutely no cost. The event itself was a free picnic for all of their participants and supporters.
Events are usually the easiest and funnest “one time” volunteer opportunities available. Events need a large number of unskilled or semi-skilled workers and they usually treat volunteers to good food and a share of whatever entertainment is being provided. In the past, Jay and I have volunteered at beer festival fundraisers (a favorite of ours for obvious reasons), formal galas, family picnics, Relay For Life, food tasting fundraisers, and more.
This event offered a chance to meet other Phoenix Philanthropists and a delicious hot lunch catered by the Cowgirls Forever catering company. Somehow chicken just tastes better when it’s cooked over coals and when you’ve earned it from a few hours of welcoming guests and clearing trash cans.
We look forward to the next time we get an opportunity to volunteer alongside Jerry and his group.