Volunteering For Oakland became involved with The Dictionary Day Project in January 2012. The project entails distributing dictionaries published by The National Dictionary Project to third grade students in Oakland Public Elementary schools. In giving dictionaries to the students, VFO volunteers spend thirty to forty minutes in each classroom doing interactive activities with the students. Each academic school year, VFO has increased the number of schools and third-graders reached with Dictionary Day. In the 2015-2016 academic school year, VFO volunteers have brought Dictionary Day to all third grade classes in thirty-three of the fifty-four OUSD elementary schools.
Volunteering For Oakland hosted events to help residents enroll for affordable healthcare coverage under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. During the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 open enrollment periods, we helped over 1,000 get coverage. We are a Community Outreach Network Partner with Covered CA and work with the Alameda County Social Services for Medi-Cal enrollment.
We have held Volunteer Fairs annually since 2009. During those years we have introduced nearly 400 potential volunteers to the agencies that work with Oakland children and their families with a wide range of services, from tutoring to theatre, to family engagement. We have had very positive responses from the organizations that train and support the volunteers as well as from the volunteers themselves. Our contacts within this community have encouraged volunteerism beyond our scope, serving other needs in Oakland.
OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT REGISTRATION
The weeks before school begins can be hectic for a family new to the school district. VFO volunteers assist the district with the school enrollment process.
In 2016, in partnership with the League of Women Voter, hundreds of residents were registered at festivals, supermarkets, clinics, churches, schools, music events, and other places where non-registered voters were likely.
BOOK DRIVE / FRIENDS OF OAKLAND PUBLIC SCHOOL LIBRARIES
At an Oakland Literacy Coalition Meeting several years ago, it was pointed out that one of the literacy issues many children faced was a lack of appropriate reading material in their homes. We held several book drives to try to help close this gap and a group of volunteers worked to refurbish unused libraries in the schools. VFO supported the goal of providing every OUSD student with access to a quality school library. This group is now known as Friends of Oakland Public School Libraries or FOPSL and has been awarded grants to continue its success.
GREENING OAKLAND HOMES FAIRS AND WORKSHOPS
From 2009 to 2011, our Greening Oakland Homes (GOH) group held Environmental Fairs in Oakland neighborhoods, bringing local residents together with Green contractors, suppliers and organizations to promote residential energy efficiency. GOH also partnered with the City of Oakland Office of Sustainability, Stopwaste.org and PG&E to present workshops on Green retrofits and home energy savings.
OAKLAND SCHOOL SUPPLY DRIVES
VFO’s predecessor group, Montclair Community Action Group, successfully carried out several annual school supply drives. MCAG gathered thousands of pens, pencils, notebooks, backpacks, highlighters, and other small supplies needed and used by students on a daily basis. Working with our distribution partner, Faith Network of the East Bay, we provided enough school supplies to have an impact.
OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT RECOGNITION EVENT
VFO members helped district staff with this event in 2011 and 2012.