Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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GIVING BACK

Every community has unsung heroes who dedicate their spare time to helping and improving the way of life for others. Giving Back is a segment that uncovers dynamic individuals in our community, giving them the recognition they deserve. Each week, TWC News' Jess Mitchel tells a new story of giving.





09/10/2014 10:57 AM Posted By: Jess Mitchell
TWC News: AmeriCorps Volunteer Sees Service as a Lifestyle
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Sonja Ringlever is on her third year as an AmeriCorps volunteer. She serves as the Communities in Schools representative at Burnet Middle School, which gave her a 20-kid case load right away.

But she doesn’t mind.

"I really love direct service. I really love children and families and I love working in communities," Ringlever said. "They treat their volunteers very well and treat them like they're part of the organization."

Students spend about an hour week with volunteers like Ringlever.

"The best part is seeing them succeed, sometimes it can be pretty slow,” she said. “That's why we work with them throughout the year--but just seeing them succeed just as far as their behavioral goals, or their academic goals."

AmeriCorps volunteers work 40 to 50 hours a week. OneStar Foundation operates the Texas program, and pays AmeriCorps volunteers get $12,000 for living expenses.

"In Texas, every year, we have about 4,500 AmeriCorps members through a number of different organizations take the pledge,” Elizabeth Darling with the OneStar Foundation said. "It helps them during that time in which they are giving of themselves in full time service."

Service as a lifestyle is how some choose to give back.

"As I've gotten older I've realized there is this level of civic duty to help others and things don't get done unless people join the pack and try to make a difference," Ringlever said.

If you would like to nominate someone for giving back, fill out the form at the bottom of this page.


08/27/2014 09:57 AM Posted By: Jess Mitchell
TWC News: Betty Hendrix: 70 Years as an American Red Cross Volunteer
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Riding the waves of technology is one thing Betty Hendrix has had to learn. She's seen the American Red Cross through 70 years of change.

"I started when I was 16 and World War II was raging," she said. "Everybody was joining the effort because the men had gone overseas."

So she folded bandages. Then, during her college years, Hendrix continued giving back by teaching swimming lessons. After that, she became a disaster relief worker.

"My first experience with disaster was in 1953 when a tornado hit Waco," she said.

Here in Austin, Hendrix looks up the cases that have been entered into the computer of people who have been affected by disaster.

"Everyone should recognize the good fortune they have to live in peaceable surroundings and give back by helping when some chaos develops," she said.


08/20/2014 07:52 AM Posted By: Jess Mitchell
TWC News: Imagine Art
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Some people are asked to give back even while they are getting help themselves.

From the middle of a garden, John McPherson pulls weeds and tends to plants. The fruits of his labor will end up on his table as well as others'.

"What I wind up with is food," he said.

That food will feed about 65 artists at Imagine Art, a nonprofit founded by Debbie Kizer in 1997 to empower artists with disabilities.

"We have artists that have mental illness, some of which are experiencing homelessness, and we have artists that have developmental disabilities," Kizer said.

All artists at Imagine Art are asked to also give back to the community. McPherson does it by working in the 6,000-square-foot garden.

"Largely for me it's about continuing with my life processes as well," McPherson said. "Keeping my mind and physical body active as a great way of keeping my life existence going."

And with Imagine Art, McPherson can keep his existence going by working on artwork, displaying it in a gallery and also being part of a community.

"You yourself are a tool," McPherson said. "If I take from the ground, I try to put back into the ground."


08/13/2014 10:29 AM Posted By: Jess Mitchell
TWC News: Camp Brave Heart Volunteer Helps Grieving Children
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Children don't always know how to cope after losing a loved one, but at the John Knox Ranch outside Wimberley, about 100 children learn how to cope at Camp Brave Heart.

Hospice Austin started the free, week-long program 16 years ago. The camp helps kids grieve through counseling and group activities.

Emily Christner benefited from the camp when she coping with grief at the age of 6. Now, for the past four years, she has volunteered at Camp Brave Heart to help other children know they don't have to suffer by themselves.

“It’s really neat to get really close to these kids, and it’s really awesome to see them bond with each other, and that is kind of a big point about camp—is that they know they are not alone,” Christner said.

Our Jess Mitchell talks with Christner about the camp in this “Giving Back” in the video above.


08/06/2014 10:16 AM Posted By: Jess Mitchell
TWC News: Manos de Cristo Program Helps Kids Get Hallway Ready
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About 400 volunteers will lend a helping hand for the Manos de Cristo back-to-school program this year.

The annual effort provides 2,000 local kids back packs filled with clothing and other items they need before they hit the hallways. Just before the school year starts, families line up outside beginning at 2 a.m. to make sure they get what they need.

Sandra Pace and her daughter have helped out with the program for five years in a row.

“For these children and these parents, this is one of the only things they will get for the entire school year,” Pace said. “For them to be able to come here at Manos for the back-to-school event is just a joy for them because they are excited, but also a relief for the parents.”

Click here for more information on the Manos de Cristo back-to-school program.


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If you'd like to nominate someone to be featured in a TWCN Giving Back segment, send an email describing their qualifications and fill out this form:
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