Skip to content

Feed Your Mind

November 30, 2011

You spent Thanksgiving feeding your belly. Now take some time to feed your mind! For those of you who missed the Living on the Stipend training here is a sample one of the resources, a listing of free/cheap educational opportunities available across the state:

  • EnCorps: This website offers free resources and tutorials for AmeriCorps members on topics like recruitment, planning trainings, and post-service life.
  • EXCO (Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities): Take or teach free community education classes or workshops on a variety of topics with EXCO. Check the website for current listings.
  • Goodwill Community Foundation Learn Free: A fan of distance learning? Looking for free online classes on a variety of topics including finance, Excel, or basic math? Look no further than Learn Free.
  • InterCorps Council of Minnesota: The ICC’s Training and Education Committee will offer free monthly trainings for AmeriCorps members in 2011-2012. Follow the ICC website and social media platforms for training updates. Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ICCofMN or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ICCMN
  • Libraries: Libraries are bastions of knowledge. Not only do they house reference librarians and various types of media, many also offer free computer classes, author talks, or historical/cultural events. Check out your local library’s website for upcoming events.
  • Mind Tools: A professional development website with many free tools covering topics like program and time management, creativity, and communication. Feeling stressed at your service site? Consider taking the burnout self-test.
  • MN Youth Intervention Programs Association: YIPA hosts trainings on a variety of topics related to working with youth throughout the year and will give discounts to AmeriCorps members. Don’t be afraid to ask!

Holiday Cheer

November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hand Turkey

A Bridge to Benefits

November 18, 2011

Trainings:

The last week of November is chock full of great training opportunities. Here is a sampling:

  • VISTA budget getting you down? Come to the ICC’s FREE Living on the Stipend training on November 29 from 6-7:30 PM at the Merriam Park Library in St. Paul. Learn about and share tips and resources for stretching those pennies.
  • Interested in fundraising or development work? The MN Council of Nonprofits is hosting a training double feature on December 1–Art of Asking and MN Foundations. Save money by registering for both!
  • Need some help creating a volunteer handbook? MAVA is hosting a webinar entitled Developing a Volunteer Handbook on December 6.
  • Looking to gain a little more cultural competency? Neighborhood House’s Refugees and Immigrants: A Provider’s Perspective takes place on November 30.

Cheap Eats/Food Resources:

Looking to spice up your cheap dining options? Consider trying one of these delicious and reasonably priced ethnic restaurants in the Metro.

  • Black Sea: A Turkish restaurant with awesome vegetarian options on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.
  • Maria’s Cafe: A Colombian restaurant famous for its corn pancakes located on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis (right next to PPL!).

Free/Cheap Entertainment:

  • Think English Renaissance theater productions are beyond your budget? Think again! The Classical Actors Ensemble  offers sliding scale ticket prices and a pay-what-you-can performance for each production.
  • Looking for a fun way to expand your repertoire of good reads AND meet new people? Consider joining/starting a book club! Many local libraries have monthly book clubs or you can join Books and Bars, a Minneapolis group that’s part book club, part happy hour.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Cool Websites:

  • VISTA budget stretched a little thin? Check out the Bridge to Benefits portal! It’s a simple online screening tool that tells you which social services you can apply for given your financial situation AND where to apply.

VISTA Exchange Network:

Your fellow VISTA Abigail is seeking donations for her site, A Chance to Grow. If you have any gently-used blankets, pillows, or family friendly (G or PG) DVDs that need a home, contact Abigail.

Service with a smile

November 4, 2011

Cheap Eats/Food Resources:

  • On the hunt for a new breakfast hangout? Try the Day by Day Cafe in St. Paul! The food is tasty, reasonably priced, and will please omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. When the warm weather rolls around again be sure to check out the garden patio. It’s gorgeous!
  • Looking for the best donuts and pastries around? Stop by A Baker’s Wife Pastry Shop in Minneapolis! They were voted Best Donuts by CityPages in 2011 and even have cow statues standing out front. What more could a person want?

Free/Cheap Entertainment:

  • Did you know that St. Paul has a slam poetry team? Did you know that this team won the National Poetry Slam in 2009 AND 2010? Meet Soap Boxing! They duke it out on stage the first Monday of every month (Hello, November 7) at the Artists’ Quarters in St. Paul. Doors open at 7 PM, the poetry begins at 8 PM. $5 entry fee.
  • Looking for some unique holiday gifts? Then take a drive to Zumbrota, MN. The 17th annual Holiday Art Fair takes place November 17-20 at the Carnegie Library. Support local artists, sample free cider, and discover a delightful MN town.

Trainings:

  • Professional development funds burning a hole in your pocket? Check out the Overcoming Racism conference November 18-19 at Metro State in St. Paul. Day one will address the topic “How Does Racism Frame Our Realities?” and day two will cover “Anti-racism Work in Organizations, Institutions, and Communities.”
  • Having trouble recruiting volunteers? Is your organization a MAVA member? If so, check out this FREE MAVA members only training on November 17: Harnessing the Power of Youth Volunteers.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Looking for a kid fix? Free Arts is in need of some one-time volunteers to spend time with youngsters from the Jerry Gamble Boys and Girls Club in North Minneapolis on November 15th from 2:30-5:30 PM. Contact Rebecca if you’re interested in helping out!

VISTA Site Events:

  • Learn what’s new at the MN Literacy Council! Come to the Beyond Books open house on November 10. Drop in any time between 5-6:30 PM for a sneak peak at the new website and FREE snacks and libations. Register here.

Cool Websites

  • Want to recognize the good work your volunteers do? Check out the President’s Volunteer Service Award. It’s free to become a certifying organization and might be a good incentive for your volunteers to give a little more of their time.

Get in the Spirit

October 21, 2011

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Tired of toiling behind the scenes? Want to meet other service-minded people? Check out Meetup to find volunteer and special interest groups across Minnesota! Learn how to knit, practice your Spanish, or participate in monthly service events. Join a group or create one of your own!

Cool Websites:

Bored with YouTube? Looking for some new internet resources? Explore these websites courtesy of your fellow VISTAs:

  • Energize Inc: A volunteer management resource library. Share what you know or learn something new!
  • Spent: A situational poverty scenario game. Can you make it through the month on $1,000? Find out!

Trainings:

  • Community education classes are a cheap way to learn new skills and meet new people. They are also available in many communities across the state! Check your local listing for classes.
  • The MN Council of Nonprofits offers training opportunities across the state, many of them free! You can learn how to write grants or develop a communications plan as well as participate in a monthly networking lunch. Check out their monthly events calendar or sign up for their e-newsletter to stay in the know.

Free/Cheap Entertainment:

  • Love giant, flaming puppets? Looking for something spooky to get in the Halloween spirit? Then check out the FREE BareBones Halloween Extravaganza in St. Paul! It runs the weekends of October 22-23 and 29-31. Shows begin at 7 PM at Hidden Falls Regional Park.
  • MPR and St. Thomas have partnered to bring The Warmth of Other Suns author Isabel Wilkerson to St. Paul on November 10! Click here for more information on this FREE event and to register.

Cheap Eats/Food Resources:

  • Check out the latest culinary craze: Food Trucks! You can find them at festivals, farmer’s markets, and hovering around downtown Minneapolis/St. Paul. Click here for a map of Metro food trucks and to learn what these mobile restaurants have to offer.

VISTA Site Events:

  • Allina (Lovel’s site) is partnering with Bikes 4 Kids to give away 5,000 refurbished bikes for kids in need. Have a bike to donate? Want to help clean them up? Know some kids who could benefit? Contact Lovel or go to the website.

Educate Yourself (and have some fun too)

October 6, 2011

Trainings:

  • Stand up and get noticed! The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network is hosting a FREE personal branding workshop on October 17 from 5:30-8 PM in Minneapolis. More details and registration here.
  • Manage your volunteers! The MLC is hosting a Volunteer Management Conference on November 4 in Roseville. The cost of attendance for MLC VISTAs is FREE but you need to submit a professional development request to me before you register. Click here for more info.
  • Serving in St. Paul? Join the St. Paul Public Schools Foundation and City of St. Paul VISTA programs for the “Service as a Solution in St. Paul”  event on October 19. Connect with other National Service folks, learn about resources in your backyard, and celebrate the good work you do. The event runs from 8:30-11:30 AM at Washington Technology Magnet. Details and registration here.
  • Baby Boomers and Millennials giving you trouble? MAVA is hosting a workshop geared at working with Baby Boomer and Millennial volunteers on October 11 from 9 AM to 4 PM. Cost is $50. More details here.

Free/Cheap Entertainment:

  • Love books? Love cheap books? Head over to the MN State Fairgrounds this weekend for the Half Price Books Clearance Sale at the grandstand!  It runs Saturday to Sunday 9 AM to 6 PM. Free admission and nothing priced over $3. Maybe even a glimpse of MN Literacy Council staff if you come on Saturday. What more could you ask for? Details here.
  • It’s Oktoberfest in New Ulm! Take a scenic drive down the MN River Valley this weekend to check out the fall color and German festivities/beer. The celebration runs Friday and Saturday with free music, hearty German fare, and historic tours. More information here.

VISTA Site Events:

  • It’s that time of year again! The MLC’s annual Power of Learning Luncheon will take place on October 12 at St. Mary’s Lake Calhoun Event Center in Minneapolis. While there is no minimum donation required to attend, it IS a fundraiser so invite your rich uncle! Click here for details and to register.

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Need extra bodies for your organization’s next event? Looking for a couple dedicated reading tutors? Advertise on the Bulletin Board (or Google Group)! Just talk to your friendly neighborhood VISTA Leaders.

Cheap Eats/Food Resources:

  • If you harbor a passion for little diners and/or malt shops, check out Snuffy’s. The food is tasty and cheap (keep your eye out for buy-one-get-one coupons!) and there are multiple locations in the Cities. Personal aside: the best malts I’ve ever had are at the Big Steer Truck Stop located off exit 69 (Northfield exit) on I-35.

VISTA Exchange Network:

  • Empty pickle or sauce jars taking up space on your shelves? More old books than you know what to do with? Sarah Rodenberg will take them off your hands! She is looking to recycle these items into garlands, paper flowers, confetti, and such for a DIY wedding.

Young, Smart, and Jobless

September 30, 2011

A popular topic in the news right now is the long-term effects of joblessness on recent college grads and the American economy. Check out these links to follow the discussion of what MPR’s Kerri Miller has dubbed “mad-as-hell-Millennials”: