Marissa Vogel started Little Helping Hands in 2009 to help Austin families with young children connect with volunteer opportunities around town. Of course, the organization does more than that. In the end, it creates a generation of youth who understand community needs and feel compelled to make a difference.
What’s more remarkable is that the demand for Little Helping Hands activities far exceeds their availability. Sign-ups for activities are almost always full more than a month out, and in 2016, more than 5,800 kids volunteered through Little Helping Hands. Today, their programs have expanded to include service learning and leadership programs for older youth, so these kids can consistently serve, learn, and lead from age 3 through age 17.
To meet the growing demand, Little Helping Hands has invested in its first development director, Allie Townshend, who will be tasked with raising money to fund more programs.
“We are thinking big! Ideally, in the next several years, we’ll be able to engage youth of all ages in service in many different types of communities – in Austin and beyond,” says Vogel. “Through the hiring of a development director, we are making a commitment to get there.”
Townshend joins Little Helping Hands team after chairing the board of directors in 2016. With a background in nonprofit fundraising – having served most recently as the director of annual giving for the Austin Humane Society – she will seek to build the organization’s capacity beyond it’s traditional boundaries.
“We’ll continue to target a healthy mix of funding from individuals, corporations and local businesses, and both private and family foundations,” says Townshend. “Our supporters strongly identify with our mission and recognize that Little Helping Hands provides a unique opportunity for even the youngest Austinities to give back.”
With increased funding, Little Helping Hands can continue to grow the number of youth involved in service within Austin exponentially, while also developing innovative programs that keep these participants challenged and engaged. And Little Helping Hands is already looking beyond Austin to other cities that are ready to make a commitment to growing the next generation of community-minded leaders.
“Developing a whole generation of engaged citizens shouldn’t be done on a small scale,” says Townshend. “Communities across the country need the presence of Little Helping Hands, and I’m excited to come on staff during such a transformational time for the organization.”