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If work brings you to Jacksonville consider giving back! As action packed as conferences and business meetings are, finding the time to volunteer can be a great way to embrace a destination during your trip. Instead of exploring Jax solo, consider organizing a volunteer program for your entire group.
By Megan Eileen McDonough
From team-building competitions with charitable components to delivering teddy bears to children in need, there are plenty of ways to engage in Jacksonville while bettering the community—and see the fruits of your labor prosper.
HandsOn Jacksonville is exactly what its name suggests. Its mission is to connect volunteers—whether individuals, companies or organizations—with initiatives that transform the local community. Step by step these projects really take shape. Last year alone, HandsOn Jacksonville managed over 430 community projects that required nearly 6,000 volunteers who contributed an impressive 21,000 hours of community service.
The best way to get involved is to browse current opportunities or contact a representative directly. Opt for activities where you'd be best suited to offer a helping hand. For example, sports fans might excel at being a basketball or football coach, while environmentally conscious volunteers can sign up for a beach or island cleanup troupe.
Business professionals heading to Jacksonville can consider becoming members for special service projects that require member access. It's a great way to keep track of your community service hours, group interests and initiative partnerships with more than 100 nonprofit local agencies or charities.
In short, it's a quick and easy way to give back, while making the most of your time in Jacksonville while tapping into your passion.
PCMA’s The Conscious Meeting Project is an invaluable tool that opens the door to community service projects. Search for projects in the area where your meeting will be held and work some hours as a volunteer into your schedule. Jacksonville offers a range of activities each month that cater to age, physical skill and special interests. Learn more at pcma.org.
Active Escapes gets you out of the office for a few hours and into the Jacksonville community for a wide range of team-building and goal-setting exercises, with an emphasis on promoting group skills, trust and effective communication. In addition to themed workshops and fun scavenger hunts, many projects have a charitable component that directly impact the local Jacksonville community.
Another popular charitable workshop is Bears and Blankets. This event requires each team to assemble bears by carefully stuffing them, and then dressing them in a variety of outfits, thus providing them with a unique identity that represents that of their team builders. After, each team is also tasked with making a blanket, which helps promote an added sense of security for the children receiving them.
After a couple of hours, all the bears and blankets are delivered to crisis centers and law enforcement agencies that then distribute them to traumatized children all over Jacksonville. These “buddies” play a vital role in crisis management involving these young children. Police officers, firefighters and EMT workers often carry them in their vehicles and give them to kids who’ve experienced some sort of distress.
Rethreaded is a social entrepreneurship that provides job training to women who have been trafficked through the sex trade. Many of these women come off the streets or leave prison unable to attain viable employment. Rethreaded’s three-month holistic job training program helps these women beat lives of addiction, violence and prostitution by helping them acquire new skill sets and by integrating them into the community.
Here’s how it works: T-shirt donations are made to Rethreaded, which are repurposed by the women to make other beautiful handcrafted items like handbags, scarves, bracelets and more. These products are then sold online and at local events with the goal of raising enough money to employ more at-risk women.
Since 2012, Rethreaded has hired two dozen women, providing them a safe place to thrive, earn a living wage and develop new skills. And while they are on their way to becoming successful artisans and entrepreneurs of their own, Rethreaded offers them the opportunity to advance within the company to roles like marketing and sales.
Volunteers are encouraged to help at their brick and mortar store location at 820 Barnett Street from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday. And they always need help organizing when attending or throwing an event.
Learn more about the many out-of-office team-building experiences that make Jacksonville an exceptional place to do business and become part of the community. Search no longer, let us help you plan all aspects of your meeting—sign-up for our meetings newsletter and stay current on what’s happening in Jacksonville.
Local Expert Guest