Volunteering in (Belated) Honor of National Volunteer Week!


On April 16, the NTEN team in Portland spent the afternoon volunteering at Schoolhouse Supplies, in belated honor of National Volunteer Week. Schoolhouse Supplies is a nonprofit based in northeast Portland that helps to serve classrooms in need by operating a volunteer-run Free Store for Teachers, which is stocked with donated supplies.

Working with Schoolhouse Supplies’ Volunteer Coordinator, Sara Yellen, and Free Store Coordinator, Barb Burwell, we rolled up our sleeves, sorted through the boxes of donated supplies, and helped to tally it all up. For accountability purposes, Schoolhouse Supplies counts every single product that is stocked on their shelves (down to the last pencil cap eraser) and every product that goes out.

It was a trip down memory lane to see all of the colorful, glittery (and small!) supplies that are used by grade schools today. A lot of the items we unpacked came from big department stores like Fred Meyer, where the packaging might have been slightly worn and deemed unsellable. Here are some photos of favorite finds:

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Photos clockwise from top left: A Justin Bieber composition book, held up by Barb Buswell and cameo of Program Coordinator James Sigala; a pen with mechanical cheerleader pom-pom arms, Sponsorship & Development Coordinator Eileigh Doineau’s top pick; CEO Amy Sample Ward tallying up the number of colorful pencil cap erasers; 4) “Having a laugh,” as they say, with James Sigala and Operations Director Jessica Holliday. You can view these photos on NTEN’s Instagram.

Of course, it wouldn’t be any fun at NTEN if we couldn’t dish on some data. Collectively, we tallied thousands of school supplies. These were the top items we tallied:

  • 605 pencils
  • 545 pens
  • 165 folders
  • 157 Sharpies markers
  • 153 boxes crayons
  • 113 dry erase markers
  • 113 eraser caps
  • 103 spiral notebooks

If you’re based in the Portland area, we strongly recommend you volunteer at Schoolhouse Supplies: www.schoolhousesupplies.org.

js_chicago.jpgOur remote NTENners also volunteered on Wednesday! NTEN’s Education Manager, Julia Smith volunteered at Upwardly Global in Chicago, where she did mock interviews. Upwardly Global helps immigrants to rebuild their professional careers in the U.S.  Julia was paired with another “interviewer,” who was a woman transitioning from an IT background into nonprofit program delivery, and together they interviewed a former professor from South Africa who was trying to get more involved in curriculum design and research in the U.S.

If you’re in the Chicago, New York, or San Francisco are, check out volunteer opportunities at Upwardly Global: http://www.upwardlyglobal.org/


NTEN’s Membership Director Megan Keane in San Francisco helped to manage the One Brick volunteer event at a small nonprofit called At the Crossroads (ATC), which does outreach to homeless youth. Megan’s volunteer group was divided into different stations to help with supplies that the counselors use for their clients: folding clothes, putting together snack and candy bags, toiletry kits, and more.  We put this photo of Megan doing a hand stand post-volunteering because… it’s so Megan!

If you’re in the San Francisco area, you should volunteer at ATC or with One Brick. One Brick also has volunteer opportunities across the U.S. – check it out: http://www.onebrick.org/.


NTEN’s IT Director Karl Hedstrom had the most challenging task of all – childcare! Karl “volunteered” after his nanny had called in sick to take care of his son, Parker. Luckily his yellow lab Nali, pitched in. Hope you all enjoy this gem of a photo.

Also, in case you missed it, check out the blog posts from last week where we tipped our hats to the volunteers that make NTEN’s work possible: Community of Practice (CoP) leaderscommittee members501 Tech Club leaderscommunity champions, and of course, our board members. Thanks again to all of you who make NTEN’s work truly valuable to the entire community!