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  1. Who is behind PMD?

    PMD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1992 in Boston, Massachusetts. PMD is entirely run by one paid staffer, volunteer board members, directors, and officers who also hold full-time jobs and other responsibilities. After running PMD as an unpaid volunteer while working for several other charities coordinating volunteers and writing grant proposals and newsletters for an environmental charity, Executive Director and Founder Lori Tsuruda was finally hired to work full-time for PMD beginning in November 2001.

    As of April 2013, more than 6,600 volunteers have given 60,000+ hours helping 125 charitable groups in Greater Boston by participating in 985+ PMD projects. PMD volunteers are of all ages, with many people ages 20 to 65.

    PMD relies on financial support from individuals, corporations, and foundations.

    Similarly, PMD relies on volunteer supporters to maintain our web site. (To conserve our limited resources, we communicate about upcoming PMD events via a private e-mail list rather than US mail. Furthermore, we email specific, PDF project details to each person who signs up to participate.)

  2. How do I participate in PMD Community service projects?

    After learning about particular PMD service projects by e-mail, web site, or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pmdorg), check your calendar for your reliable availability.

    If there's a match, register online before the sign up deadline. You can find the registration link by visiting http://www.pmd.org/events.phtml, clicking on the project, and scrolling down to HOW. Provide all of the required information, Then you will see a confirmation screen-but receive no confirmation email message.

    Then the week before the project, you will be sent PDFs that contain information on the agency we'll be helping, what to expect, what to bring, how to get there by car and by public transit, map, and release form.

    On the day of the project, you travel to the project site prepared to participate (with breaks) for the entire project time span. You will also learn how your work supports to mission of the agency served.

    PMD projects typically involve 12-20 people. A good number are usually first-time PMD volunteers or repeat volunteers who are working on the same PMD project for the first time, so it's not cliquey.

  3. Are PMD community service projects accessible by public transportation?

    Nearly all PMD projects are accessible by public transportation. If a project is not, PMD advertises and organizes alternative transportation, usually car pooling among volunteers.

  4. How does PMD find projects?

    Mostly by word-of-mouth. We hear from our volunteers, agencies who we have helped in the past, agencies who were referred by agencies that we have helped in the past, etc. PMD projects are hands-on, non-clerical and non-fundraising in nature, and they are typically planned two months or more in advance. We seek work that could not be accomplished without volunteer help and resource. If you know of specific agencies that need specific work projects completed, please contact Lori at 781-963-0373 or email and request our Answers to Frequently Asked Questions by Charities.

  5. Are there any PMD projects during the holidays or late summer?

    PMD purposely organizes no projects on Thanksgiving and Christmas and fewer in August. We have found that less volunteers participate in PMD projects during the summer months (when they are actually most needed) and that during the holidays there is an overabundance of well-intentioned volunteers and volunteer groups that typically overwhelm the needs and the staffs of most charitable organizations. In addition, during the holidays and summer most volunteers are often unable or unwilling to commit to participating at the levels required for successful PMD projects (e.g., signing up in advance and participating for an entire project time span). PMD does organize holiday volunteer opportunities on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Easter, and the weekend closest to St. Patrick's Day.

    PMD organizes projects helping Hearth's Ruggles Affordable Assisted Living and Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Easter, respectively, holidays when it is more difficult for these charities to attract volunteers.

    PMD encourages you to start a new tradition, volunteering in the summer time (when there are volunteer shortages) rather than the hectic holidays in November and December.

    If you would really like to volunteer during the holidays, please plan ahead early - contact the volunteer coordinators at local shelters and other community agencies. They would be happy to tell you about their upcoming volunteer opportunities. There may not always be a match between their needs and your availability. Remember, volunteers are generally needed more during NON-holiday times when regular volunteer participation dwindles, especially at the beginning of the new year and during the summer, but also on the "let down" days immediately following major holidays.

  6. My group wants to do a community service project. Can we participate in PMD projects?

    Yes and no. The volunteer opportunities advertised on the PMD web site and email list are geared for individual participants, not groups of them. Individuals must sign up themselves, and groups must have prior permission from PMD to advertise specific PMD volunteer opportunities to their members.

    PMD offers Corporate Partnerships for companies' and other groups' community involvement programs. Please contact PMD for sample projects and pricing.

    Corporate Partnerships involve one-time projects during business hours. PMD enables participants to work together as a team, enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and learn about and discuss topics of interest. With PMD's expert guidance, organization and planning, experience, and community connections, corporate partners develop successful projects and community relationships. PMD corporate partnership projects involve hands-on tasks, team work, and learning goals. PMD handles all details so that participants can simply show up and jump right in. Project selection and associated expenses are driven by a company's values, goals, timeline, and budget.

    PMD Corporate Partners include Novartis, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, and Alkermes. Please contact Lori Tsuruda at (*82)1-781-963-0373 or email Lori for more details about Corporate Partnerships at your place of business or in the community.

  7. Why can't I signup my friends to volunteer with me?

    PMD requires that individual volunteers take responsibility for their own participation beginning with signing up for the projects themselves. When someone tries to sign up a friend, too often the friend doesn't take this commitment to participate as seriously, which in turn impacts the charities we strive to assist and the rest of the volunteers.

  8. Why do I have to sign-up by project sign-up deadlines to participate in PMD projects?

    Volunteers who sign-up by the project sign-up deadlines enable PMD to plan quality community service projects that enable us to (a) send detailed project information PDFs with needed tasks and preparation tailored to the number of volunteers (b) be more confident there will be enough volunteers to complete what we estimate we can accomplish, and (c) make sure that we have the appropriate tools, materials, and other resources for the group.

    Though PMD has sign-up deadlines, if more help is still listed as being needed at http://www.pmd.org/events.phtml after the deadlines, interested volunteers are welcome to call 781-963-0373 to inquire if volunteers are still needed and if so, to sign up. Due to the last-minute nature of these sign-ups, people who call must have email or access to a fax machine (or be willing to participate without the benefit of a map) to receive the detailed project information in advance.

  9. Why do I have to provide my address and cell phone number to sign-up for the email list and for each project?

    We require that you provide at least your complete USPS mailing address and one phone number so we can accurately communicate specific project information and last minute changes for projects for which you have explicitly signed up to participate. We do not share this information. If there are repeated problems with returned email, we will also call to make you aware of them.

  10. Why can't I arrive late or leave early?

    PMD needs volunteers to commit to participate for the whole project, not just part of it, because we need people to work as a team from start to finish, from becoming oriented to cleaning up. Early on from volunteer feedback, we found that people who arrive late or leave early consistently do not feel as satisfied about the work accomplished because they do not see how the work site looked at the beginning or when it was completed, respectively. Since PMD only asks for single project commitment and not weekly commitment or membership dues, we think it is reasonable to ask folks to commit to participate for a whole PMD project.

  11. Why do PMD email and project packets repeatedly discuss my commitment to participate in the entire project and the consequences of not doing so, losing my PMD volunteer privileges?

    Unfortunately, not everyone takes their volunteer commitments seriously. (In fact, many people have blatantly told us so!) PMD expends its very limited resources on project planning, tools, and materials so that people can easily volunteer to make a difference to recipient charities. When volunteer "spaces" are underutilized and/or we are unable to complete all the work needed due to unexpected understaffing, we fail the charities we strive to serve.

    If you are a responsible volunteer, just disregard these references since you already know that you will be participating. If you do become ill or something serious happens to a loved one, then please consult those contingency directions that require you to CALL, not email, PMD, at least 24 hours before your PMD project begins.

  12. Once signed up, why am I repeatedly asked to call PMD if I need to cancel?

    PMD strives to plan sufficient tasks, tools, and materials for the number of volunteers signed up to participate. Charities depend on PMD, and thus our reputation as being reliable, self-sufficient, and great to host. When volunteers cannot participate, we need to know by the day before at the latest, so we can adjust appropriately. We ask you to call us (and leave voicemail), NOT use email, so that we will learn this information as quickly as possible. (When we are at a project, we are focused on the volunteers and cannot check for email cancellations.) Sometimes there are people on a backup list who we can activate to participate in your absence. When we are unexpectedly unable to complete all the work needed due to understaffing, we fail the charities we strive to serve.

  13. I have other commitments on Saturdays. Does PMD ever have projects on Sundays or weeknights?

    PMD organizes projects on Sundays several times a year. Sunday projects are more challenging to plan because they do not usually attract as many participants as Saturday ones and because the recipient charitable groups must find staff willing to work with us on a Sunday.

    PMD also organizes occasional weeknight projects, but these tend also to attract fewer participants given how difficult it can be to leave work on-time, travel to a project site, work a few hours, then return home late. If you want PMD to offer more weeknight projects, please be sure to sign up and then then participate in them.

  14. I would like to volunteer with my child. Does PMD organize any projects suitable for children?

    PMD occasionally organizes projects that are appropriate for children to participate if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian who can work alongside youth under age 16. Youth-friendly projects contain relevant restrictions and wording in their descriptions. These projects usually involve outdoor work or painting signs for the Walk for Hunger (typically the first Saturday in March).

  15. I am required to perform community service. Can I document my volunteer hours with PMD?

    If you require documentation of your participation, please complete and bring any required forms with you when you volunteer (and/or prepare a form letter) so that the PMD project manager can immediately sign it at the conclusion of the project, enabling you to complete your documentation as quickly as possible and to minimize bureaucratic burden on overextended charity staff.

    If you request post-participation documentation, please provide the following details and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the PMD project manager. If you forget, then at least two weeks in advance, and provide Lori Tsuruda with the complete name, title, and USPS mailing address of the addressee to Lori. Indicate whether a PDF will suffice so that PMD will not have to subsidize the cost of postage for your special need.

  16. Why can't I sign up more than one month in advance?

    General PMD policy requires that volunteers refrain from signing up more than one month in advance of a project. Since we have found that most people cannot reliably commit and participate reliably in PMD volunteer projects if they sign up more than one month in advance, this policy serves to minimize the effort spent signing up, confirming, canceling, and confirming cancellations. Rare PMD service projects, like running the annual Blue Lobster Bowl of the NOSB, require earlier sign ups so that participants will receive appropriately sized, official garments, and so we can schedule advance training and specific room assignments. Occasionally service projects for charities requiring sexual offender record checks also require more lead time since this process is not yet automated.

  17. Can I still sign up to volunteer if the sign up deadline has passed?

    Yes if more volunteer help is needed AFTER a sign up deadline, sign up to participate by BOTH calling and emailing PMD at 781-963-0373 and lori@pmd.org. Please be sure to specify the project date and to give an email address that can accept PDF attachments.

  18. Does PMD have a privacy statement?

    Yes. It is PMD's policy not to share personal contact information, not even with the charities we serve. Furthermore, we never add people to our email list without their explicit request/approval. PMD collects contact information so that it can communicate with volunteers about specific service projects for which they have signed up and/or participated.

    In terms of our fundraising solicitation list, we do generally add anyone who volunteers for a PMD service project, particularly since we rely on our volunteers for financial support. Anyone can ask to opt out by emailing PMD.

    Please email PMD to correct your contact information or to confirm that you do not want personal information shared outside the organization.