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College Students: Alternative Spring Break Ideas

It’s that time of year again: spring break season. Spring break is just around the corner, and if you’re a college student, you’re probably already daydreaming about sunshine, relaxation and freedom from studying… at least for a little while.

Many college students choose to spend their spring break on a trip somewhere exotic with friends, soaking up the sun with a drink in their hand. If you’re a college student looking for something more satisfying to do with your time, consider an alternative spring break: volunteering your time and talents for the benefit of others. If you’re still not sure what you’re doing over spring break, check out these ideas for how you can have fun and give back.

Go on an international trip.
One of the most popular alternative spring break ideas is an alternative spring break trip. You still have the opportunity to go somewhere exotic with friends, only this way you’re volunteering in the surrounding communities. Whether it’s helping to build sustainable housing, teaching important skills to locals or providing medical assistance, your time and talents are fully committed to supporting those in need, all while having fun in an unfamiliar country.

Some international spring break volunteering programs include Project Abroad, International Volunteer HQ and United Way. You can even check out local nonprofit organizations in your area that offer international trips in sister communities. Whatever program you choose to work with, you can be sure that your efforts help those in need around the world.

Commit to a national trip.
Similar to an international trip are those that stay within the U.S. National trips often offer the opportunity to visit poorer communities or those in crisis, and serve those most vulnerable among us. These trips are great in providing similar experiences to their international counterparts, but often cost less in travel expenses and can be less of a paperwork hassle.

Build your own fundraiser.
If you’re a college student who is extremely dedicated to a specific cause, consider using your spare time over spring break to build your own fundraiser for an organization close to your heart. Maybe you want to run a bake sale, put together a 5k race or hold a silent auction to raise money. Gather a group of friends and see if they want to help support their community over spring break and see just how much of an impact a small group of people can make.

Get involved locally.
If you’re not interested in going on a trip or creating your own fundraising event, see what involvement opportunities are already available within your own community. Many nonprofit organizations will have increased volunteering openings over spring break, which are great to get involved in on a flexible basis. Whether it’s serving food at a local shelter or helping teach refugees English, you can still use your spring break to give back to those around you.

Donate what you can.
We get it—you’re college students. Money isn’t exactly the easiest thing to come by at this point in life. However, this spring break, consider donating what you can to help support the causes that mean the most to you. Whether that’s donating financially, donating used goods or donating nonperishable food, find what you can to give what you can. When it comes to helping the community, every little bit counts.

This spring break, do more with your time by choosing an alternative spring break, and enjoy the sunshine while giving back. Whether it’s traveling abroad or staying local, your commitment to serving others helps build a better world for all of us to live in.

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How Volunteering Helps Your Job Search

It’s a tough job market out there, and for anyone searching for a new position, new network or entirely new career, the hunt can be difficult. Employers are looking for more than just a good employee; they want someone with experience, good people skills and who stands out from the crowd. So how can you compete in such a difficult market?

When employers are looking for someone unique, make your resume jump out by adding volunteer experience. How can volunteering boost your job search? We’re going to find out.

1. Expand your network.
Volunteering at a local nonprofit organization pushes you out of your comfort zone and gives you the opportunity to meet with other community professionals in a non-work environment. And while networking isn’t always easy, volunteering makes it easier.

Whether you’re volunteering at a soup kitchen or serving on a nonprofit board, you will be introduced to an entirely new field of professional organizations. Where there’s a connection, there’s a network just waiting to be tapped into—that your potential employer could be a part of.

2. Demonstrate community leadership.
If you’ve had a difficult time finding leadership opportunities at past jobs or organizations, volunteering is a chance to show just how much of a leader you can be. In fact, according to Monster.com, 93% of workers surveyed said that volunteering gave them the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills like never before.

Volunteerism shows your employer that you’re capable of recognizing a need, getting involved, taking charge and making a difference. That’s the type of leadership money can’t buy.

3. Learn new skills.
Diversify your skillset by volunteering in new and unique ways. Practice interpersonal skills by working with homeless community members. Demonstrate your management experience by helping to plan and coordinate an event with a nonprofit organization.

Whatever work you do in volunteering, you’re sure to broaden your skills and learn about your hidden talents. These are valuable traits to put on your resume and share in an interview.

4. Show your compassionate side.
In today’s market, employers are looking for more than just an employee. They want an employee who is involved, works hard and cares about his or her community. Volunteering is the perfect way to show your potential employer that there’s more to you than just a job—you want to make a difference wherever you go.

Show your compassionate side by volunteering within your community, and employers will appreciate the value and commitment you can bring to a company.

5. Beef up your resume.
Finally, if you find your resume lacking a little bit in content, volunteering is an excellent way to beef it up with valuable substance. Your resume will catch employers’ eyes not only by its substantial totality, but also through its impressive variety.

If you’re in the market for a new position, help yourself and your community by volunteering with a local nonprofit organization. You may be surprised at just how useful it can be in a world of difficult job hunting.

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Access National Bank Extends Its 15 Year Partnership with Brain Injury Services

Access National Bank is committed to making a positive difference in the community and is proud to announce its continued support of and long-time partnership with Brain Injury Services in the form of a $25,000 contribution. For more than 15 years, the Bank has forged a great working relationship with Brain Injury Services that extends far beyond providing financial support. Read more…

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14 Altruistic Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Tomorrow we celebrate the love we share for our significant others, our families and our friends. Whether you’re single, dating or married, you can give the most romantic Valentine’s Day gift by giving back to your community. Check out 14 altruistic ways to celebrate this special day.

1. Send a love letter. This Valentine’s Day, spread the love by sending a love letter… not just to your partner, but to other people and organizations in your life that you value. Tell them why they matter, what they mean to you, and how much you love them.

2. Run a charity race. Many organizations local and national sponsor Valentine’s Day races to raise money. Get in shape and give back at the same time by signing up to run for love.

3. Spread some (animal) love. Animals need love too this Valentine’s Day. Check out your local animal shelter to see if any volunteers are needed, or just spend some time loving the animals in need. Who knows? You may even find one to fall in love with and take home.

4. Buy organic. Love the environment by making Earth-conscious choices this week and for the future. If you’re buying flowers for your sweet honey-bun, try buying fresh organic at your local market. Not only will you love the Earth a little more, but you also support the community.

5. Donate blood. January may have been National Blood Donor Month, but that doesn’t mean the love has to stop there. Donate at a local or national drive to really get your heart pumping.

6. Choose fair-trade. Buying fair-trade goods not only ensures great quality for your Valentine, but also helps support small business owners. Whether it’s chocolate, jewelry or a Valentine’s card, you’d be surprised at the things you can find in the world of fair-trade.

7. Remember our military. This Valentine’s day, don’t forget to remember our military men and women serving overseas who aren’t able to spend the day with loved ones. Send a package, letter or goods their way to show them you care.

8. Help your neighbor. One easy way to show love this week is to help a neighbor or community member in need. A little effort goes a long way to show you care.

9. Date for charity. Are you single this Valentine’s Day, but still looking for that special someone? Get involved and find a local speed-dating for charity event in your community to meet your potential love and help give back.

10. Clean your closet. Start spring cleaning early by going through your closet now and donate unnecessary items to those in need this Valentine’s Day.

11. Support disaster relief. With so many struggles around our nation, show you care this week by finding a cause to support disaster relief needs in your community and beyond.

12. Give a meal away. Staying in on Valentine’s Day? Why not double your efforts and put together a meal to donate to a local foodbank? Not only will you enjoy your night in, but you can be sure you made someone else’s night even more special.

13. Volunteer locally. Want to really wow your significant other with a date night? Volunteer together for a local cause to show your love for each other and the community.

14. Donate your date night. Finally, go all out for Valentine’s Day this year and donate your date night. Take the money you would have spent on a night out and give back to your favorite organizations to see the impact you can make.

This Valentine’s Day, give love to others by living an altruistic lifestyle and giving back. Try out some of these Valentine’s Day tips to truly see love blossom in your life.

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Brain Injury Services Went to Richmond for the 14th Annual Brain Injury Awareness Day

On Wednesday, February 1st, 2017, staff members and clients from Brain Injury Services traveled together to Richmond for the 14th Annual Brain Injury Awareness Day. Each attendee scheduled meetings with their local delegates to advocate for budget amendments that would support survivors of brain injury across the Commonwealth of Virginia. The day ended with a rally where everyone changed, “take our voices back!”

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Find Love This February with American Heart Month

It’s February—the shortest month of the year, the month of St. Valentine’s Day and the month of love. For many, February can bring it with some anticipation and even exasperation. What do you get for your sweet honey bee? How can you find the perfect gift? What if you don’t have anyone to celebrate with?

Well, fear no more, because not only is February the month of love but it’s the month of loving yourself—American Heart Month. Give yourself and your loved ones the greatest gift this American Heart Month by focusing on making heart-healthy decisions towards a happier and healthier lifestyle.

What is heart disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic, heart disease applies to a range of various diseases which affect the heart. Such conditions include blood vessel diseases, coronary artery issues, heart rhythm problems and congenital heart defects (among others).

“Heart disease” is a term often used synonymously with “cardiovascular disease,” which generally refers to conditions that include narrowed or blocked blood vessels. Blood vessel diseases can often lead to a heart attack, chest pain or even stroke. Despite the variation of heart disease a person has, it usually carries very serious side effects.

Why is it important?
Learning about heart disease and how to avoid it is important because it is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease every year.

Women especially are affected by heart disease, with their statistic being even higher. According to the American Heart Association, a woman dies by heart disease and stroke every 80 seconds. That’s 1 in 3 deaths every year. Thankfully, American Heart Month is taking steps to put a stop to this.

What is American Heart Month?
In an effort to fight cardiovascular disease, President Lyndon B. Johnson first declared February American Heart Month in 1964. Since then, the American Heart Association has dedicated the month to promoting awareness of heart disease and its risks.

How does American Heart Month make a difference?
American Heart Month makes a difference in our community and our nation by raising awareness for heart disease and how it can be prevented. It also provides a great opportunity to get involved, be vocal and help others who may not know of the potential risk.

How can you prevent heart disease?
If you’re interested in getting involved this February and promoting American Heart Month, the American Heart Association recommends you GO RED:

Get your numbers by asking your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
Own your lifestyle and commit to stop smoking, exercise consistently and eat healthy.
Raise your voice and advocate for more cardiovascular disease research and education.
Educate your family and friends by making healthy food choices. Take time to teach those in your life the importance of staying active and monitoring their hearts.
Donate. Commit to a better future for our nation by showing support with your time or money.

This February, find love with American Heart Month. Take care of yourself and promote a change in your community by being educated and proactive on the risks of cardiovascular disease. Because the best way to celebrate love is with a healthy heart.