Category: Uncategorized

NxtGov in 2022: Call for Nominations and Volunteers

NxtGov in 2022: Call for Nominations and Volunteers

Want to make a difference alongside a group of individuals passionate about public service? Run for a NxtGov leadership position!

NxtGov recently received our official designation as a federal 501(c)6 non-profit organization and we’re kickstarting a new chapter of NxtGov. While our traditional programming will continue, in 2022 we will be focusing more of our efforts on building coalitions of volunteers to identify and pursue opportunities to help the State of California run more effectively and efficiently. 

To that end, we’ll be conducting Listening Sessions to better understand what issues and opportunities exist. The remaining listening sessions will be on Thursday, October 14th (virtual) and Thursday, October 21 (in-person), please go to our Upcoming Events for specific event details. The priorities that come out of the listening session will shape NxtGov’s priorities for 2022. If you want to help us achieve those priorities or if you’re looking for a way to connect, volunteer, and improve the impact of government, NxtGov is here for you!

Please find the list of available positions here. Nominate yourself or others by filling out this form. Email Collaborate@NxtGov.org with any questions! Leadership nominations will close Friday, October 29th and the new leadership team will start their work at the beginning of January 2022. Read on to learn more about NxtGov and what areas you can plug into!

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What is NxtGov?
NxtGov is a nonpartisan, service-oriented 501(c)6 nonprofit organization that works to improve the public sector so it can, in turn, better serve the public. The NxtGov community doesn’t just include people who work for the public sector; it also includes those who work with or are interested in public service more broadly.  

What Does NxtGov Do?

We know government works better when agencies, teams, and individuals work together. Unfortunately, collaboration doesn’t always happen, resulting in lost opportunities to learn from each other and build complementary policies and programs. 

NxtGov is a platform that supports these kinds of opportunities.  We strive to enhance the collaborative capacity of California’s governments by fostering a community that is committed to building bridges across government silos. 

As a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization, NxtGov is overseen by its Board of Directors who is responsible for directing the administrative operations and guiding the programmatic actions of the organization. The Board Members include:

  • President: The President presides at all meetings; represents NxtGov at official functions
  • Vice President: The Vice-President acts in the President’s absence or at his or her request. 
  • Treasurer: The Treasurer is responsible for the funds of the Association, disbursing those funds as directed by the Board.
  • Secretary: The Secretary keeps all records and minutes of the Board and general meetings.
  • Membership Officer: The Membership Officer represents the interests of all members and actively demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion for all members.

NxtGov also has an Executive Council with four Directors: 

  • Community Engagement: Supports any members of the public who are interested in serving others and/or learning more about the public sector. 
  • Public Recruitment: Supports individuals who are looking and applying for jobs with the State of California’s Executive Branch. 
  • Professional Development: Supports the personal and professional growth of individuals employed by the State of California and their teams. 
  • External Communications:  This position supports NxtGov’s external communications between our program areas and the general NxtGov community. 

Anyone can get involved in any or all of the program areas above. If you’re interested, check out our website and email Collaborate@NxtGov.org to learn more! 

Am I Qualified to Help? 

Anyone with a passion for serving others is qualified to make a difference, regardless of experience or knowledge of the public sector! Individuals who are interested in learning about or improving the public sector can support NxtGov’s mission by participating in an event, leading a project, or serving as a member of NxtGov’s Leadership Team. There are many ways to plug in to NxtGov while gaining experience, and building our community of public servants! 

How Can I Get Involved?

If you would like to nominate yourself or others to join the NxtGov Leadership Team, please review the vacant position descriptions here and fill out this form. The deadline for nominations is Friday, October 29th. Nominations will be reviewed and confirmed by the Board at the end of November with the new leadership team taking office at the beginning of 2022. 

After receiving your completed submission, a member of the NxtGov Leadership Team will follow up with each nominee and potential volunteer to help align your interests with the operations of the organization. We look forward to working with you! 

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to email Collaborate@NxtGov.org

“Do What You Love!” — Insights from the July 2021 NxtGov Community Engagement Event

“Do What You Love!” — Insights from the July 2021 NxtGov Community Engagement Event

In some ways, high school seems like it was just yesterday, and in other ways it feels like it was a lifetime ago. So much has changed since I graduated from high school that sometimes I take the many things I have learned and the ways I have grown for granted. In July, three of the women on NxtGov’s Leadership Team had the opportunity to serve on a panel for the Women in Politics mentorship program through the California Center for Civic Participation. The mentorship program connects young women and female-identifying high-school students with women who are further on their career paths to provide the students with insight and extra support for their professional journeys. I was joined by Kelijo Boney, Director of Public Recruitment for NxtGov, and Rebecca Moore, Director of Professional Development, to present about our varied career paths and how we came to be involved in State government.
One of the important themes from the Women in Politics session focused on how we can all build and exercise power by being informed and involved in the political process. As a worker in California’s State government, it was a rewarding experience to provide my perspective as both a State worker as well as an advocate for causes that I feel passionate about. After college, I worked in the private and nonprofit sector in various roles, and it was when I came to work for the State government that I felt like my work was making the biggest impact. A number of students remarked on how they had never considered a career working for the government, and how working in a State job in the future could be rewarding and fulfilling. I remembered back to high school and the years that followed and reflected on how it took me another 10 years to learn that same lesson.
One of my favorite parts from participating in the panel was hearing the students’ questions. One student asked about the best classes to take to prepare for a job in the public sector. Another asked whether it was important to specialize in political science to get a State government job. It was so nice as a panelist to be able to tell them: “Do what you love!” The consensus from all three panelists was that there is not a singular path into the public sector -- or into any sector -- and that there are many opportunities to work for the State for any field of study. As of July 2021, there are over 3,000 current job postings on CalCareers from the more than 200 State government agencies, with jobs in policy areas such as environmental science, education, affordable housing, public heath, racial equity, disaster preparedness, fiscal accountability and countless more. Whatever you want to do, there is room in the State government for all skills and passions.
Community Engagement Events Update!

Community Engagement Events Update!

NxtGov would like to thank all who were able to donate or make it out to our SPCA Doggy Dash this past Saturday! We were able to raise some much-needed funds for the cause. The Sacramento SPCA Doggy Dash raised over $133K. Keep reading to learn how you can join other NxtGov events!
The Doggy Dash was one of the first in-person social events that the NxtGov Community Engagement Team has held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we made several laps around Capitol Park, it was a nice opportunity to socialize, catch up on our lives, discuss plans for this year, and reflect on how we think the future of work will look as many departments consider how and when employees are expected to return to the office. This event provided some much-needed socializing and networking after more than a year of being on Zoom calls and staying at home.
The Doggy Dash was one of the first in-person social events that the NxtGov Community Engagement Team has held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we made several laps around Capitol Park, it was a nice opportunity to socialize, catch up on our lives, discuss plans for this year, and reflect on how we think the future of work will look as many departments consider how and when employees are expected to return to the office. This event provided some much-needed socializing and networking after more than a year of being on Zoom calls and staying at home.

Now that vaccines are readily available and community transmission of COVID-19 poses less of a risk, The NxtGov Community Engagement Team is looking forward to hosting more of its volunteer i events in person. Feel free to contact our team if you have ideas or suggestions of events you want the NxtGov Community Engagement Team to host or participate in. We hope to see you at a future event sometime soon!

Community Engagement in 2020

Community Engagement in 2020

Looking Back and Looking Forward

NxtGov Community Engagement Committee’s February Event

Written by Kelly Joy, Director of Community Engagement


This last year may go down in history for the worst of reasons, but even so, there was a lot of good that happened in 2020 that is worth celebrating. Some of this good came from NxtGov members volunteering with the Community Engagement Committee, many of whom found ways to give back to their communities while supporting themselves and their families. Although the Committee had far fewer options for community service events than in prior years, our team got creative and still found a range of causes to support that allowed us to follow public health guidelines for social distancing. I’m happy to report that, despite facing many unexpected challenges, our Committee stayed on track with our goal to support at least one cause per month in 2020. 

Before the pandemic hit Sacramento, NxtGov Community Engagement Committee members volunteered for three in-person events, including a Midtown Sacramento beautification event in January, a clothes sorting event for the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services organization in February, and a Running for Rhett fundraiser in early March 2020. In late March, NxtGov had to make sudden changes in its programming to align with the stay-at-home orders.  Nevertheless, NxtGov was able to mobilize its professional network of passionate members to continue making progress towards our goals despite the new and unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic. 

While following all public health guidelines for social distancing, the Community Engagement Committee was able to able to support the Sacramento community in the following ways:

  • March: In the early days of statewide stay-at-home orders, we published an article about 12 Things You Can Do Right Now, which featured local causes in need of community assistance. 
  • April: We hosted an online fundraiser for Starting Point for Refugee Children, in which our members donated almost $500 that was used to purchase food and supplies for newly resettled refugees facing limited opportunities to engage with their new community in a different country. We also published an article sharing 11 Ways to Support People with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Pandemic.
  • May: The Committee created a “Choose Your Own Adventure” event supporting the Big Day of Giving, and cosponsored a fundraiser for the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services organization. 
  • June: Our team promoted the “Takeout for Good” event, which encouraged our network to purchase meals from local restaurants that were hit hard during the pandemic. 
  • July: NxtGov members met in person for a socially-distanced trash pick-up event in Downtown Sacramento. 
  • September: Our team promoted a local blood drive through Vitalant, and also volunteered at a canvassing event that encouraged residents in low-response communities to complete the 2020 Census.
  • October: the Community Engagement Committee encouraged NxtGov members to participate in a letter-writing campaign benefiting Love for our Elders and the Prisoner Correspondence Project
  • November: we concentrated our messaging on the importance of voting in the 2020 general election. NxtGov also began its first-ever multi-month volunteer “event,” in which we encouraged members to sign up to volunteer as a tax preparer for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, which provides free tax returns for individuals and families that fall under a set income threshold. 

As the Director of the  Community Engagement Committee – and on behalf of the entire NxtGov Leadership Team – I want to personally thank all of the volunteers and donors that contributed to our events over the past year. You all helped us make a direct impact in our community during a time of great need, and we are incredibly grateful for your support.

NxtGov will continue to build off of our past work to collaborate with, serve and inspire others in 2021, with even more opportunities to engage with our community as well as with one another over the coming year. Whether we are meeting in person or online, we will be here. I hope you will consider joining us and continuing to build yourself while building up our efforts at NxtGov in 2021.

NxtGov in 2021: Call for Nominations and Volunteers

NxtGov in 2021: Call for Nominations and Volunteers

NxtGov is looking for passionate leaders and volunteers who can help make 2021 our most impactful year yet! If you’re looking to join a team of individuals working to improve and amplify the impact of the public sector, NxtGov is your community! 

 Leadership nominations will close Sunday, December 27 and the new leadership team will start their work at the beginning of January.

What is NxtGov?

NxtGov is a nonpartisan, service-oriented 501(c)6 nonprofit organization (federal designation pending) working  to improve the public sector so we can, in turn, better serve the public. The NxtGov community doesn’t just include people who work for the public sector; it also includes those who work with or are interested in public service more broadly.  

What Does NxtGov Do?

We know government works better when agencies, organizations, and individuals work together. Unfortunately, collaboration isn’t always prioritized or possible in government agencies, which results in lost opportunities to learn from each other and build complementary policies and programs. 

NxtGov supports the development of collaborative, silo-breaking  relationships and opportunities.  We strive to enhance the capacity of California’s government by fostering a community that is committed to building bridges and lasting connections. 

NxtGov has three programmatic focuses, each of which is overseen by a Director who plans and produces related events, projects, and content: 

  • Community Engagement: Organizes opportunities for our membership to engage with and support our community through community services projects. In 2020 these have been transformed to remote volunteering through letter writing, phone calls, and socially distant trash clean-up in our own neighborhoods. 
  • Public Recruitment: Supports individuals who are interested in and applying for public sector jobs. Provided monthly How to Get a State Job webinars throughout 2020.
  • Professional Development: Offers training and workshops for the professional growth of civil servants and their teams. This year we started a virtual Anti-Racist Learning and Action Group for our members.

These programmatic areas are supported by two additional positions:

  • Director of External Communications: In support of all of NxtGov’s programming, the Communications team develops advertising strategies, designs graphics, and promotes events and content on social media platforms, our website and blog, as well as the monthly newsletter. 
  • Membership Officer: In addition to serving and representing the NxtGov membership, this position serves on the NxtGov non-profit board with legal and fiduciary responsibilities. 

Anyone can get involved in any or all of the program areas above. If you’re interested, check out our website, join our Slack channel, or email Collaborate@NxtGov.org to learn more! 

Am I Qualified to Lead? 

Anyone with a passion for serving others is qualified to make a difference, regardless of experience or knowledge of the public sector! Individuals who are interested in learning about or improving the public sector can support NxtGov’s mission by participating in an event, leading a project, or serving as a member of NxtGov’s Leadership Team. There are many ways to plug in to NxtGov, gain experience, and build a community of public servants! 

How Can I Get Involved?

If you would like to nominate yourself or others to join the NxtGov Leadership Team, please review the vacant position descriptions and fill out this form. The deadline for nominations is Sunday, December 27. Nominations will be reviewed and confirmed by the Board at the end of December, with the new leadership team taking office at the beginning of 2021. If you are interested in volunteering in general, or have a project you would like NxtGov to take on, please fill out this form

After receiving your completed submission, a member of the NxtGov Leadership Team will follow up with each nominee and potential volunteer to help align your interests with the operations of the organization. We look forward to working with you! 

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to email Collaborate@NxtGov.org

Don’t Just Vote, Vote Smart: Resources for Maximizing Your Interests at the Polls

Don’t Just Vote, Vote Smart: Resources for Maximizing Your Interests at the Polls

Voting is an important public right and civic duty. However, voting in a way that maximizes your interests requires more than just checking boxes on a ballot – it takes research.

This research takes time and may seem daunting. Fortunately, there are many existing tools that can help make it easy to answer important questions, like:

  • What do measures and propositions actually do?
  • What do candidates stand for, and what have they done in the past?
  • Who has financed support or opposition campaigns for these propositions and candidates?

We have collected some resources to help you enjoy learning more about the contents of your ballot. However you might be voting this year (by mail, official ballot box, or at the polls), make a plan, and don’t forget to vote by November 3rd

County Voter Guides

Your county voter guide provides a great first look into candidates and initiatives. Every registered voter should have received a county-specific voter guide in the mail that contains:

  • Important logistical information including procedures on how to vote, ballot drop off box locations, and in-person vote center locations,
  • A sample ballot,
  • Brief statements from all candidates running for offices other than U.S. President, and
  • Full text of local measures in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

If you can’t find your paper voter guide, you should be able to find a digital copy on your county’s website (here is the Sacramento county’s voter guide). You can also review a California-wide voter guide produced by the Secretary of State. This contains similar information and should have also come in the mail.

Organizational Voter Guides

Many non-profits and other organizations have voter guides that state which candidates, propositions, or measures the organization supports or opposes. If there are organizations you support (think about those monthly donations you may make), check if they have posted a voter guide for this upcoming election on their website. 

If you would like to read a bit more and learn more about both sides, many non-partisan groups have developed clear and engaging guides for curious voters. We’ve collected a few of our favorites to share with you!

BallotPedia

Ballotpedia is non-partisan, neutral resource that aims to provide people with accurate and objective information about policy and politics. There are many helpful resources on their California webpage, but for this election you may find the following web pages particularly useful:

Voter’s Edge

Voter’s Edge asks you to enter your address and provides you with a sample ballot. Explore candidate endorsements, top priorities, political resumes, and even campaign donor information. This non-partisan non-profit has done the hard work for us, compiling videos from diverse sources, summaries, and organizational information on one centralized sample ballot for you to explore. They even let you save your choices so when you sit down to vote (or head to the polls), you have your selections ready to go. Voter’s Edge provides links to your Easy Voter Guide as well, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean.

CalMatters

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics. They have put together a full-service (and fully-entertaining) voter guide for California’s election:

  • Proposition Guide: Explore both sides of every proposition through an engaging 1-minute video. Scroll down for information about fiscal impacts and additional news stories to educate your vote.
  • Gimme Props: Want to gamify the process? This quiz asks a series of simple questions on each issue to help you understand which side may best align with your ideals.
  • Crossword Puzzle: Looking for further entertainment? Put your prop knowledge to work in this crossword puzzle featuring in-depth knowledge of each proposition! 

Campaign Finance Tools

While Ballotpedia contains a lot of information on campaign finance, the following resources can help you learn more about who financed campaigns supporting or opposing the contents of your ballot:

  • Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), Top 10 Contributors List, November 2020 General Election: The FPPC uses data from the Secretary of State to generate a list of the top 10 contributors to support and opposition campaigns for each proposition on the ballot. This is a great resource to explore first.
  • Secretary of State, Campaign Finance Activity, Propositions & Ballot Measures: Provides the full dataset that the FPPC uses to generate the top 10 contributors list.
  • Secretary of State, Campaign Finance: Candidates & Elected Officials: Provides a full dataset of contributions to each candidate running for a position in the California State Legislature.
  • Federal Election Commission, Browse Data: Provides a full dataset of contributions to each candidate running for U.S. President, the U.S. Senate, or the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Center for Responsive Politics, orgopensecrets.org: Provides great background information on federal-level campaign finance along with the same information as the Federal Election Commission’s webpage listed above.

Friends, Family, and Your Community

This research doesn’t have to be a solitary activity! Sharing notes and talking with others can help you process which candidates, propositions, or measures you truly want to support. You can also help others by encouraging them to do their own research – or you might even send them this blog post!

Path to Public Service Profile featuring Matthew Smith

Path to Public Service Profile featuring Matthew Smith

Name: Matthew Smith

Job Title: Business Continuity Coordinator

Recommended Reading:  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Song stuck in your head right now: “Free (with Drew Love)” by Louis The Child


What was your path into public service?

If I’m being honest, I actually kind of stumbled upon public service. I went to college at UC San Diego and when I graduated I truly had no intention of pursuing a career in the public sector. I planned to work as a sports reporter at a San Diego news station. All of my plans changed when my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I had a choice: stay in San Diego and pursue my career or return home to Sacramento and spend as much time with my father while I still could. To me it was a no-brainer. I was driving up Interstate-80 the next week. I was able to spend several quality months with my father before he passed, and I’ll never once regret making the choice that I did. 

With that being said, I still needed a job! Sacramento is home to many California state agencies and it only made sense to pursue a job with one. Week after week I sent out applications in the mail. At the time it was paper only, and let me just say that I’m so happy the state chose to allow online applications. I had a great process down: print out all the jobs I qualified for, fill out the applications all week, and send out a mass of papers on Friday. My local post office soon began to greet me by name when I walked in. I had a few interviews here and there, but not much luck until I had an interview at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS. I interviewed for two positions at CalSTRS, and although I didn’t get the first one, I made enough of an impression to get the second one.  

That was five years ago in April, and I’ve grown to love working for the State. What keeps me motivated is the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I’ve been blessed to have truly caring and inspirational people around me. At CalSTRS, our mission to serve California’s teachers is integral to everything we do and I love working for an agency with such defined, meaningful goals. Through NxtGov I’ve met people outside my agency that are just as caring and inspirational, and I’ve come to realize that people are naturally passionate when they have a clear goal in sight and are working to achieve it. Working with such great people and the ability to develop myself both professionally and personally will keep me in public service for a long time. 

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now? 

At CalSTRS I work in a very small field, Business Continuity. It’s not well known or advertised, but state agencies are mandated to have plans in place for emergencies that may occur. Business Continuity is the ability for an organization to continue critical business processes during or immediately following an emergency incident of any kind. CalSTRS’ ability to function is critical to the lives of California’s teachers and if even a day is missed there are severe consequences. It’s my job to make sure an event doesn’t disrupt business by identifying and developing plans for CalSTRS’ most critical business functions. 

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in state service? 

I would say don’t get discouraged during the whole process.  Being rejected for a position or denied an opportunity to interview can be so difficult and destructive for one’s confidence. It can make one jaded or even discourage them from continuing to apply. I think landing the job is a combination of skill and timing. Continuously work to improve your skill set and the timing will take care of itself. Whatever you do, don’t lose hope! Once you get that interview, make sure you’re connecting on a personal level with those you’re interviewing with. Sometimes the connection a hiring manager feels to you will overcome your lack of technical knowledge. 

How do you get the most out of working in public service?

Just like in life, it’s all about how much you put in it. You should be looking to develop yourself every day. Never settle or get too relaxed! Keep challenging yourself to take on new projects, develop new skills, and learn new techniques. Take as many training classes as possible. Listen to podcasts or read books to gain more knowledge of areas you want to improve in. Build as large a social network as you can, and provide value to others rather than just yourself. Have mentors and friends in other business areas to give you knowledge of the work they do. Volunteer in your community helping out in areas you’re passionate about. In general: be the best version of yourself you can be and make sure to enjoy life along the way! 


Check out our other Paths to Public Service Profiles! [slide-anything id=’1779′]

Interested in sharing your story? Let us know!

11 Ways to Support People with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Pandemic

11 Ways to Support People with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Written by NxtGov member Arthur Shemitz

We choose a career in public service so that we can be of service to the public. We believe in contributing to the common good, and working hard every day to make a better California. As individuals who have dedicated our careers to bettering the world, we are leaders in our communities.

The global coronavirus pandemic, and the catastrophe it has caused, is an unprecedented call to public service. When so many are losing so much, it is time to serve and advocate for our fellow Californians, especially the most vulnerable among us. 

While the pandemic has disrupted all of our lives, many of the people most affected and worried by the spread of the virus are people with disabilities. As you know, the most vulnerable groups are older people — 40% of whom have at least one disability — and those who are immunodeficient or have underlying respiratory conditions. 

Here’s the good news: by practicing good hand washing, socially distancing, and self-quarantining if you have symptoms of a respiratory condition, you are already helping prevent the spread of infection to the most vulnerable. But we can always do more, so we’re excited to share 11 more ways to support people with disabilities during the pandemic. Each one has its own link to reference material or opportunities to get involved, so you can easily take action.

1. Call out people who dismiss the risks

We are fortunate that the majority of the population is not at significant risk of death from the novel coronavirus. However, people with compromised immune systems or underlying respiratory conditions — such as those with certain chronic illnesses, HIV-positive people, or people with asthma — are at serious risk. Despite this, you can still find public figures saying things like “it’s not a big deal because most people aren’t at risk.” It is a big deal that members of our community are at serious risk. When you see and hear these messages, correct them and share your knowledge of the severe threat COVID-19 poses to the disability community.

Read more: When you say coronavirus will only kill the vulnerable, you’re talking about me

2. Amplify public health directives

Because COVID-19 poses a particular threat to people with disabilities, it’s important to ensure people are following directives from public health officials. This is the time to use peer pressure for good. If your friends and family members, coworkers, or members of your community organizations are not taking social distancing seriously, don’t hesitate to call them out. Lives are at stake!

Read more: How to Use Psychology to Convince People to Take Social Distancing Seriously

3. Share information responsibly

There is so much worry and concern in the air, and so much confusion around what is still a developing pandemic. This is a ripe environment for rumors, misinformation, and conspiracy theories to circulate. Share accurate guidance from public health experts and debunk false information you see on social networking sites. Unfounded information could truly be a matter of life and death.

Read more: CDC Resources on COVID-19, CDPH Resources on COVID-19, COVID-19 Disability Community Preparedness Resources

4. Accommodate remote work, even after this ends

Many people with disabilities would have always benefited from remote work because chronic illnesses make it painful for them to travel to the workplace, or because their workplace is not as physically accommodating as their home, or for other reasons but were previously told it wasn’t an option. The novel coronavirus has demonstrated that more work can be done remotely than we previously realized. Whenever these restrictions lift, keep these lessons in mind and work to normalize remote work in the future.

Read more: Disabled people have worked remotely for years, and they’ve got advice for you and your bosses

5. Check in with and run errands for loved ones with disabilities

This is a scary time for folks who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. If they start to run out of food or other essential supplies, it may be terrifying to imagine going to the grocery store and potentially exposing themselves to the virus. Proactively check in on your friends and family who are at risk, and offer to do their grocery shopping or any other errands at this time.

Read more:10 ways to help your neighbors and friends during the coronavirus crisis,” “How To Check In On Friends’ & Family’s Mental Health During The Coronavirus Pandemic

6. Volunteer (in a socially distant manner)

Even though most physical volunteer opportunities are cancelled, there are still plenty of ways to support the disability community through remote and in-person volunteering. Kelly Joy, our Director of Community Engagement wrote an article on this topic that explores Sacramento’s opportunities for giving back to our community right now.

Volunteer: You may have a lot more time on your hands, so now is the time to give back! 

Be My Eyes is an app that lets sighted volunteers provide free visual navigation and assistance to blind and low-vision people through live video.

Crisis Text Line is a free crisis intervention service available through text messaging. Individuals who experience suicidal thoughts are especially at risk during this time of isolation and disruption of normal routines, and this is a critical time to help.

Bookshare offers free or low-cost accessible ebooks to people with disabilities that make reading traditional ebooks challenging. You can volunteer online to scan books, or edit existing scans.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, which disproportionately serves people with disabilities, remains open and has an urgent need for volunteers. Normal volunteer orientation requirements have been waived, and Food Bank staff ensure that all volunteers comply with social distancing requirements.

7. Donate where it is needed most

The state of the economy, and individuals’ personal finances, have both changed rapidly. If you have money to give, now is a critical time to contribute to organizations and individuals in the Sacramento community and beyond. (Plus, the 2020 tax year will feature a $300 tax deduction for charitable contributions, even if you don’t itemize your deductions — just another reason to give.)

Donate: Sacramento COVID-19 Mutual Aid, Donate4Sacramento COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, Disability Justice Culture Club

8. Redirect some or all of your stimulus check

As public employees in heavily unionized workplaces, we typically enjoy a level of job security that others do not especially relative to many people with disabilities, who are often the last to be hired and the first to be let go. Because of that, if you are expecting to receive a $1,200+ stimulus payment from the federal government, your need may be less than the need of many in the disability community. (Of course, everyone’s individual circumstances vary and you may have a spouse or loved ones who have lost their job, or you may otherwise be economically impacted by COVID-19.) Consider whether your stimulus payment would be more effectively used to support organizations supporting people with disabilities.

Read more: #ShareMyCheck

9. Donate blood

Our hospitals are about to be deeply strained, just as blood drives traditionally held at schools and workplaces have been canceled. If you can meet the screening criteria, donate as soon as you can.

Donate: Vitalant, American Red Cross

10. Advocate for coronavirus relief to include and prioritize people with disabilities

In times of crisis, the needs of people with disabilities are often neglected or pushed aside as too inconvenient to deal with. Speak up and amplify demands for the ongoing prioritization of the most vulnerable.

Read more: #DisabilityDemands

11. Take care of yourself

You can’t be an effective advocate or support system to your friends and family if you’re not prioritizing your own needs. These are stressful times, and you deserve to pay loving attention to yourself as well. If you feel overextended, take some time to care for yourself and restore your energy.

Read more: “15 ways to practice self-care in the time of coronavirus”

This is hard and scary, and it will stay hard and scary. But with just a little investment of time, you can make this a little less hard and scary for someone else. And when you do good for others, you feel better about yourself. Our community is counting on your public service, and I’m so excited for the good you will do and are already doing. 

Community Engagement and COVID-19: 12 Things You Can Do To Help Right Now

Community Engagement and COVID-19: 12 Things You Can Do To Help Right Now

Stop Asking “Why” and Start Asking “How”

Written by Kelly Joy, Director of Community Engagement


Note: We will continue to edit this blog post as needs and opportunities are rapidly changing in our community. Feel free to reach out with questions or suggestions by commenting on this blog post! 

This really sucks. It sucks for people, it sucks for businesses, and it sucks for our community. The social fabric of our society is, for the time being, irreparably altered. Try not to ask yourself “why?” because there is no real answer. And you honestly wouldn’t feel better even if there were an answer. Instead of asking “why,” I implore you instead to shift your thinking to asking “how.” 

So “how” do we all cope with it all? The first answer is gratitude. Whenever I am stuck in a rut of feeling like the weight of the world is pressing on my chest, I challenge myself to think of something I am thankful for. It can feel difficult at the time, but it still doesn’t usually take long to think of something. For example, having a job at this time feels more like a privilege now than it did two weeks ago. I’m grateful for technology that allows me to keep in close contact with my friends and family when I can’t see them in person. At an even more fundamental level, I am grateful to have a roof over my head and food in my fridge. I feel fortunate that all of my family members are healthy — this isn’t the case for many. 

No matter how bad things feel, we can always be grateful for something. It can be easy to fall into the trap of asking “Why did this happen?” or “Why do I need to cancel this important event?” or “Why can’t I travel on this planned vacation?” or “Why does this feel so sad?” I encourage you instead to ask “How can I help?”

You may not be able to fix all of the problems in this world, but I promise you, you can do something. Take comfort in that fact. You can help. You can make a difference for others, and the bonus is that it will actually make you feel better, too. 

Here are actual, manageable actions that you can take to help others in your community. If you live in Sacramento, I have included links to local organizations actively seeking help. 

1. Donate blood

Hospitals and other medical facilities are on overdrive right now with an expected surge in patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an urgent blood shortage in many places to meet this high demand. Many planned blood drives needed to cancel with all of the recent orders to shelter in place, but blood banks are still open and strongly encouraging donations. Every donation can save up to three lives! 

How you can help: The American Red Cross has a tool to look up blood drives in your area. In Sacramento, you can make an appointment directly with Vitalant (previously known as BloodSource). Note that there are some travel and health restrictions to donate. 

2. Foster a pet

Local animal shelters have been hit with a double whammy. People aren’t coming to adopt animals right now, and shelter employees are staying home in order to quarantine or self-isolate. This leads shelters to have lower capacity to keep and take care of the animals, and some are even at risk of closing.

How you can help: If you are in a position right now where you can foster a pet —- especially a dog — contact your local animal shelter to ask if they need animal fosters. In Sacramento, the Sacramento SPCA is in need of emergency foster parents for large dogs. Added bonus: a new pal to keep you company while working remotely!

3. Support local businesses

Local businesses have been hit so hard right now. Foot traffic for restaurants is at a standstill, and people are no longer frequenting dine-in restaurants at all.

How you can help: You can do a lot even just by grabbing take out from a local (especially family-owned) restaurant that is still open. You can also purchase gift cards to use at a later time. This gives the business your money now to get them through this tough time, and you can redeem the gift card later. Some local businesses have continued to operate, but have moved sales online, including Capital Books on K, Shop Cuffs, and Oak Park’s Strapping. Many local businesses are running promotions as well, including Elevation Ten Winery, which is currently offering 30% off all wine as well as $5 shipping for orders of four bottles or more. If you’re wondering if your favorite local restaurant is still offering takeout or curbside pick-up, this spreadsheet lists local restaurants and the services they still offer. Check out their social media accounts for the latest updates.

Also, if you have a recurring payment to a local business like a gym, coworking space or child-care provider, try to keep that commitment if you can, even if the business has been forced to close temporarily. 

4. Tip Well

The workers preparing take-out orders and delivering our groceries are busier than ever and are offering us an essential service. Many of these people are also worried about contracting the virus and about the health of their own friends and family. Some are taking on this type of “gig” work because they were suddenly displaced from their normal job. You can give extra support to these people who are giving extra support to us.

How you can help: Tip more than you usually would if you have the means. Those of us who are steadily employed can do our part to keep the service industry thriving.

5. Pick up trash

You’ll be surprised how much trash is outside once you start looking for it. It’s a big, gross problem that doesn’t get better unless someone does something about it. You can be that someone.

How you can help: If you are going outside for some kind of “essential” activity, you can bring gloves and a bag and pick up trash you see on the way. This is a great way to beautify the community, and it is an especially great activity for introverts and/or those who thrive on instant gratification. You can immediately see and measure the impact of your few minutes outside making things nicer for everyone. It also comes with the bonus of giving you an excuse to spend an extra couple minutes outside.

6. Call your friends and family

Of all of the coronavirus-related content online, one of my favorites thus far has been: “Introverts: Put down your book and check on your extroverted friends. They are not okay.” Everyone is struggling right now, and just because we can’t be in the same room anymore does not mean that we can’t still support one another. And no, your extroverted friends are not okay.

How you can help: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but here are some extra things to consider. Make sure to check in on family and friends, especially people you know in high-risk groups, including ones who are immunocompromised, have underlying health conditions, are over 65 years old, etc. 

Some specific strategies: Group messages, FaceTime or video chat, Marco Polo, and call your grandparents! (And also text the extroverts.)

7. Donate

So many nonprofits are struggling right now. If you have money to donate, there is no shortage of worthy causes to donate to. There are also causes you can donate goods to as opposed to cash donations.

How you can help: Pick a cause, any cause! There are seriously so many, but some are especially impacted by this recent epidemic. Causes that are supporting people affected by job loss, medical expenses, school closures, etc. are all doing very important work that deserves support. If you are in a position to give, give to a cause you feel passionately about. If you are looking for particular examples, here are a couple to choose from:

YMCA: The YMCA has opened up emergency childcare centers for parents adversely affected by school closures (across the country, from what I can tell). Most parents — including “essential” workers like doctors, nurses, social workers, emergency responders, etc. — rely on school or daycare for their children in order to work. 

Starting Point for Refugee Children: Starting Point is a Sacramento-based nonprofit that supports newly-arrived children and families by providing them with necessities for their new lives. Starting Point is in need of basic goods such as rice, flour, sugar, pasta, dried beans, nuts and dried fruit. If you have picked up any extra of these goods in your recent bulk-shopping trips, you can donate some to Starting Point directly or through NxtGov’s upcoming drive for this charity. (Reach out and/or follow us on social media for more information on our drive coming soon!)

Sacramento Loaves & Fishes: Sacramento Loaves and Fishes is a local charity that has an ongoing needs list of supplies for people in the community who are in need of basic necessities. The list includes toilet paper, diapers, blankets, reusable water bottles, backpacks, tents, batteries, clothes and pet food. 

Save Our Local Restaurants: Mayor Steinberg has joined forces with local chambers of commerce and other community partners to support Sacramento’s locally-owned bars and restaurants from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. These business owners and employees have been profoundly affected, and donating to the Save Our Local Restaurants GoFundMe  will help these local businesses stay afloat during this difficult time. 

Mask Match: You have likely already heard about the shortage of protective gear for healthcare workers, which leaves them more at risk of contracting COVID-19. Mask Match is a platform that helps connect people with spare masks to healthcare facilities who need them right now to protect their employees. If you have any spare N95, P95, R95 or surgical masks, you can fill out an online form to be matched with an organization that is currently seeking donations.

Donate4Sac: A fund specifically created to give back to Sacramento. You may choose to have your contribution used in one of five ways:

  1. Support for Families. This funding adds to the United Way California Capital Region’s COVID-19 Local Relief Fund to provide childcare, meals, rental assistance and other essential resources for families whose lives have been disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  2. Support for Small Businesses. This support leverages and supplements the City of Sacramento’s Small Business Emergency Relief Fund for zero-interest loans to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and their employees.
  3. Services for Our Unhoused Neighbors. Providing services through area nonprofits to unhoused Sacramentans, such as emergency shelters, hygiene stations and other solutions to meet their needs.
  4. Nonprofit Support. This funding will be distributed through the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund, which will rapidly deploy flexible resources to nonprofits working with communities impacted by COVID-19.
  5. General Support. Flexible funding to provide support beyond the areas identified above and wherever it is most needed.

Choose your own: Want to find another nonprofit not listed here? Check out GreatNonprofits to find one you feel passionately about.  

8. Volunteer

If it is easier for you to give your time than it is money right now, there are a number of emergency and essential service providers that are still operating and need people like you to volunteer and help. 

How you can help: Reach out to local nonprofits and inquire about whether they are in need of any volunteers. Below are some local examples in the Sacramento area:

Sacramento 2-1-1: Sacramento’s local information line, 2-1-1, has a need for volunteers to help provide information to callers asking about COVID-19 and the city’s response. There are multiple opportunities for shifts between 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services: As an essential services provider, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services remains open and and is dealing with increased demand. There is always a need for volunteers to sort and bag food for the community, and food bank staff will ensure social distancing requirements are followed. (Donations of cash, food and clothes to the Sacramento Food Bank are also accepted.)

Sacramento Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen: Sacramento Loaves and Fishes is an organization providing hot, nutritious meals to low-income and disadvantaged people in the community. They need volunteers to help prepare and distribute meals.

Sacramento City United School District: SCUSD is asking for volunteers to provide meals for students.

CalVolunteers:  CalVolunteers has a list of California nonprofit organizations and food banks at the front lines in need of volunteers.

9. Boost morale

Remote work and social distancing are big transitions for many in our community. Even for the people who seem to be going about their day as normal, all of the drastic changes in our society have taken a toll. You can do a lot by doing an unexpected act of kindness for others.

How you can help: If you are still going to work as an essential worker, you can bring (individually-packaged) snacks for your coworkers, for example. If you are working remotely, find ways to connect with your coworkers via video. Try to bring positivity and levity to your work. You can also do something similar for others who are still working right now, even if you aren’t. You can even double up on your support by supporting a local business with your purchase!

10. Connect with the needs in your city/neighborhood

Even over the course of writing this article, the needs in our community have changed. New needs pop up while other needs are filled. Getting in touch with the needs in your local community will help you stay connected with how to get involved and help during this challenging time. 

How you can help: Hands on Sacramento is a site that constantly posts new volunteer opportunities in the local area. There is also a Sacramento COVID Volunteer Corps Facebook group that you can join to see needs people are posting in real time. There is also an ongoing Google sheet called Sacramento COVID-19 Mutual Aid 2020 that is tracking needs of individual people in the community. You can help by checking the sheet and providing some help when and where you can. #UniteSac and has an extensive collection of resources and ideas to help out our neighbors in this time of need.  Also, platforms like Nextdoor can help connect you to what is going on in your area (though it isn’t specific to volunteer or donation opportunities). 

11. Self Care

Charity begins at home. If you are mustering all of your effort just to get out of bed in the morning, prioritize taking care of yourself right now. And maybe let others step in to support and help you take care of your needs right now. 

How you can help: Give yourself permission to meet your needs without any judgment or self-criticism. Take a step back from the deluge of social media posts if you need to. In many cases, the most valuable thing we can do is to ask for help. People want to help right now, and they probably don’t know you need it unless/until you ask.

If you do feel like you need some extra help right now, there are companies like TalkSpace providing remote counseling and therapy sessions. Or if you could just use a bit of a break from this socially-distant world, here are a few resources that can help break up the routine of spending so much time at home:

12. Be part of the solution

One of the most helpful things you can do right now is something you are (hopefully!) already doing: listen to everyone telling you to practice “social distancing.” Staying home and refraining from socializing with others is not ideal, but it is what we need right now. If you are already doing this, give yourself a pat on the back. This isn’t easy, and you are already acting in a way that is benefiting the community!

How you can help: Listen to guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, your local health department (e.g. CDPH in California) and other government/community leaders, and take this seriously! These directives continue to change based on the status of the number and location of COVID-19 cases, so follow updates from these trusted sources and act accordingly.

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Jonathan Bray

Path to Public Service Profile Featuring Jonathan Bray

Name: Jonathan Bray

Job Title: Associate Governmental Program Analyst/Contract Analyst

Recommended ReadingBasic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Song stuck in your head right now: “Breakdown” by Tom Petty


What was your path into public service?

Before working for the State of California, I worked in the sales industry for a few years. In sales, I found that there wasn’t much satisfaction when it came to who you helped; it was mainly about making money for your company. I wanted a career where I could help people and use my time to better the community I live in.

I decided to change my focus on what I wanted from a profession, so I went back to school at the age of 28 to study Political Science at California State University Sacramento. At the same time, I took an Office Technician position at the Department of Consumer Affairs. I knew that this position wasn’t what I wanted to do in the long run, but I took it to get my foot in the door of State government.

Knowing I wanted to make more of a difference with the type of work I performed, I decided to focus on a specialization. I ended up choosing to learn as much as I could about the rules and regulations related to contracting with the State of California. I took all the available classes and workshops on the subject of contracts, and that helped me land a Staff Services Analyst (SSA) position with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in their Contracts and Procurement Unit.

After being an SSA for a year I was promoted in place to an Associate Governmental Program Analyst/Contract Analyst classification. In my current position, I find more satisfaction on a day-to-day basis because I am helping people and making the community a better place. Having this satisfaction really makes a difference in the type of life you live and makes the lengthy path you have taken to get into public service worth it.

What do you do in your current position, and what is something you are working on right now?

I am responsible for creating both large and small contracts for all of the Divisions within CARB. I work with many different contractors, liaisons, managers and executives on a daily basis to make sure the final contract is in its most completed form. These contracts help scientists employed by CARB conduct important research on the air we all breathe, so it is important that I do my best to create timely and correct contracts so they can be successful in their work.

Currently, CARB’s Southern California Headquarters is moving from El Monte, California to Riverside, California, and there are large contracts that have to be created to have a successful move. I’m preparing a multi-million dollar moving solicitation contract for moving services to assist with this move. Even though this contract requires a large amount of effort and might be more stressful than others, it is important that I maintain strong communication with all parties involved and keep a positive attitude about the work I do. At the end of the day, the product of work you turn in is a reflection of you and the effort you put into it.

What cautionary tip would you give to someone looking for a job in State service?

The main piece of advice I would give someone applying to State service jobs is to not be lazy. There are many positions in government that have to be filled and it is up to you as a candidate to make yourself noticed by the hiring managers. This means taking the time to write a specific Statement of Qualifications or rewriting an application specifically for a position you want. State positions are sought after by many people, so it is up to you to be sure that your application is chosen out of all the others for an interview. My mom used to tell me that getting a full-time job is a full-time job; this means that the time and energy you put in to applying for a job will only help your chances of getting one.

Also, if you are not currently in State service don’t be afraid to take a lower level position that you might think is below your pay scale. When it comes to working in public service, it’s about getting your foot in the door and proving you should have the position you want.

Final Thoughts?

Many positions for the State aren’t glamorous and don’t come with perks that you will find in the private sector. This shouldn’t persuade you to not want to acquire a public position, instead it should make you strive to get a position in public service that pays well and gives to you the satisfaction of helping others. At the end of the day, it will be up to you to make yourself a valuable candidate for the position you want.

For a while I wasn’t happy where I was within State Government and this led me to want more out of my career. I ended up applying Graduate School and I’m one semester away from completing my Masters in Public Administration. My hopes are that with this degree I will be able to achieve my career goals that I have set for myself.

Not everyone will take the route that I have taken. It is up to you to find best way to achieve your career goals within public service. Always strive to be your best self and you will be rewarded in the end.


Check out our other Paths to Public Service Profiles! [slide-anything id=’1779′]

Interested in sharing your story? Let us know!

DISCLAIMER: This is an unofficial organization that is not connected to any one government entity.