Volunteering Made Easy – Action Now + Network

If you’re like pretty much everyone else I know, you want to do “something” to help causes that are important to you. But your time is limited, and your demands are already huge. How do you find out what organizations support the issues that concern you and where you should expend your limited energy? Action Now + Network is a resource that will help you sort through the options available and choose one (or more) that is right for you.

Launched just two months ago, Action Now + Network is a new website that focuses on organizations that are doing real good for the world. Here’s how founder Sheila Wasserman described Action Now + Network to Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) in an interview from her California office. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

WASSERMAN: In this age of  Facebook, Twitter, and instant RSS feeds, it’s really impossible to claim ignorance of the world around us. We are all constantly bombarded at warp speed with information on the life-threatening issues we face every day — perilous geopolitical tensions, global warming, and the destruction of our environment, flagrant and egregious acts of cruelty inflicted by humans upon both humans and animals, not to mention hunger, poverty, homelessness, absent or woefully inadequate health care — it’s hard to know where to stop. For most of us, it is mind-numbing to think of what needs to be done to make even a small impact, let alone to solve the overwhelming problems of the world.

BPGL: How do you envision Action Now + Network as a tool in combating the overwhelming problems we’re faced with in the world today?

WASSERMAN: The technology of instant information also works in our favor: It gives us access to people and technology we never had before. It allows us to reach out and make a difference in ways we could never have imagined.

Whether we are talking about femicide in Congo, homeless children on the streets of Los Angeles, or the destruction of fragile ecosystems as a result of man-made or natural disasters, we now have recourse that is made possible in real time. We can see clearly that we are all citizens of a global community. We are all connected not only through our DNA, but as stewards of this planet that we all share. There are so many great organizations; there is really no excuse not to be involved in some constructive way.

Action Now + Network provides a single portal for people who care to find out about the issues and the opportunities available to make a real difference.

BPGL: What are some of the site’s features and capabilities?

WASSERMAN: Action Now + Network was designed as an information and education portal to do three things: to educate the public on the issues, to profile the great organizations out there that are working hard to resolve these issues, and to inspire and motivate the public to get involved in some way.

To this end, vetted organizations are invited to post a Profile in the Take Action Now Index that describes their programs, with links to their own site.  Each  organization in the Profile Index will also be featured on the home page of the site.

Individuals are invited to peruse the features on the site, learn about the issues and to connect with the organizations that offer collaborative solutions.

Features include spotlight articles on people and organizations that have made a difference. For example, we currently are featuring a story about two young men, Joey Katona and Omar Dreidi. Through their participation in Seeds of Peace camps, Joey, who is Jewish, and Omar, who is Palestinian, became friends. In the years since they met, Joey has raised more than $90,000 to provide Omar with a scholarship to study in the U.S. It’s an inspiring story of what one person can do when motivated by a spirit of fairness and generosity of spirit.

We also bring urgent issues to readers’ attention through our Urgent Issues section on the Home page. Currently, we are featuring peace-building in the Middle East and conflict minerals in the Congo. The issues we highlight change as others come to the forefront.

We also host a full Research Library where students and others can learn in depth about specific issues. This is a tremendous resource for anyone who is concerned about the issues on a local, national, or international level. And it’s growing all the time.

Finally, we have a Featured Organization on our Home page that offers an in depth look at one of the organizations in the Profile Index. This feature changes every couple of weeks. The focus at the moment is on the Los Angeles Youth Network, which provides “emergency, temporary, and permanent housing” for homeless kids living on the streets of Los Angeles. Amazingly, there are 10,000 homeless children under the age of 18, living on the streets of Los Angeles. You can watch a video that features recording artist Slash and his wife, Perla Hudson, who describe their involvement as Board Members for this organization. It’s a compelling video.

BPGL: On your site, you list reasons why people should become involved in a cause they believe in, to volunteer. Would you mind listing those for our readers?

WASSERMAN: Sure. They can read the full text on our Home page, but here’s the quick list:

  • Volunteering is good for your health (Really!).
  • Volunteering makes you feel good.
  • Volunteering is free!
  • Students can earn service learning credit or community service credit for middle school, high school, or college graduation, and it’s a great opportunity for them to make future business contacts and build their resumes.
  • It may sound hackneyed, but you really can and will make a difference if you make an effort.
  • It’s a great opportunity to discover a new passion or to reinforce an old one.
  • The world really does need your help.

BPGL: Is there a fee for using the network?

WASSERMAN: Action Now+Network is a free site for all users. It was founded on the principle that every one of us has the ability to make to make an impact, to make a real difference in the world. It is just a matter of getting inspired and taking action.

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Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living