Volunteers Helping the City

February 13, 2009

The San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders is looking to volunteers to help the city through these difficult times according to Helen Gao, a Union-Tribune Staff Writer.

Sanders is spreading that message as the city faces budget shortfalls that could exceed $100 million in coming years. In his State of the City address last month, he announced a goal to double the ranks of volunteers to offset cutbacks in city services.

 Turning to volunteers during difficult times

Turning to volunteers during difficult times


There are thousands giving their time or money in San Diego but there are many challenges faced when trying to figure out where volunteers can serve when some jobs require special skills or training.  The result of the hard work that goes into organizing the volunteer programs and the volunteer work is very rewarding to the community.

  • Friends of the San Diego Public Library raised more than $254,000 in fiscal year 2007-08 to benefit the system. The money has paid for books, rugs for children’s reading areas and supplies for craft workshops.
  • The Police Department also depends heavily on free labor to supplement its operations. Volunteers take minor-crime reports over the phone, direct traffic at accident scenes and comfort victims.
  • The department’s Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol, highlighted by the mayor in his State of the City speech, averages 450 to 500 members.  Retirees in uniforms make welfare checks on shut-ins, patrol around schools and issue citations to those who park illegally in disabled stalls, among other duties.

Volunteers who give their time or money provide the much needed support to our libraries, parks, police and fire departments.  We need to continue doing our part for our communities especially through these tough times.

Kelley Holland’s New York Times piece on volunteers and professionals points out that

Volunteer work can help unemployed professionals keep their spirits up, make new contacts or even to try a new field.

“Three-quarters of people find jobs through being out there, engaged and meeting people,” said John A. Challenger.

However, if volunteering remains a high-commitment activity, this trend will continue: “More than a third of the 61.2 million who volunteered in 2006 didn’t donate any time the next year.” [source: Corporation for National and Community Service]

Most professionals want to volunteer, at every stage of our careers. What we need are more high-impact, low-commitment opportunities to serve.

As the New York Times article points out, the benefits of volunteering to professionals are substantial, and include:

  1. Learning new skills and improving existing skills.
  2. Making new contacts and deepening existing contacts.
  3. Keeping our minds sharp by working in a different environment than we’re used to.

The benefits of volunteering to people entering (or re-entering) our careers are also substantial, and include:

  1. Learning new skills and making new contacts.
  2. Keeping our spirits up while we look for jobs.
  3. Offering new items to include on our resumes, that embody our values and showcase our commitments and follow-through, and that we have a service-oriented attitude.

In both cases, people can contribute something meaningful to a cause we believe in, and also benefit our careers while doing so. Volunteers and careers belong together, like chocolate and peanut butter.

You got to serve somebody.

January 7, 2009

Om thinks Renkoo is rebooting, and we’ll be the first ones to admit that 36 million Booze Mail users on Facebook platform isn’t worth a whole lot, even as Facebook passes 150 million users. As Andy Grove put it, “You can’t build an empire out of this kind of concoction.”

But Om, we’re not bored at Renkoo. And we’re still building Facebook and MySpace applications. So what has changed?

We believe an important mission has found us. And we believe we’re just getting started.

We believe the first four years of Renkoo were our boot camp, where we learned all of the skills we can now employ to help people serve.

We believe that Monday, January 19 — MLK Day — is an opportunity for everyone to find an opportunity to serve.

We believe that Craig Newmark was onto something big when he explored the metaphor of a Craigslist for service.

We believe that a lot of other people also believe that 2009 is the year of service. This is going to be big — and millions of Americans are going to participate. And corporations too.

We believe, like Arianna Huffington, that Obama isn’t the only one being inaugurated on January 20th. We are all stakeholders.

We especially feel this way after noticing that today the Presidential Inauguration Committee launched USA Service dot org. This is one step closer to Obama’s service agenda becoming real. Next up: passing the bipartisan Serve America Act into law.

So Om, stop being so cynical, and Sign Service Nation’s Declaration of Service. America has a lot of work to do in 2009, and we all have an opportunity to serve. Om, we invite you to be part of the solution.

And Om, there’s more to life than a business model.

Goodness begins in small steps.

Renkoo was founded on March 1, 2005, with the belief that we could build a great application that employs the Internet to bring people together.

Version 1 of Renkoo lasted about two years. We built a website — Renkoo.com — that helped people decide when and where together with real-life friends. We learned a lot about building social applications and helped pioneer Dojo Toolkit in the process.

Version 2 of Renkoo also lasted about two years. We decided it was better to take your applications where people are — the social networks — and as a result we learned how to build an entirely different type of social application. We built a half dozen popular applications on Facebook and MySpace that got used by more than 36 million people over a half billion times. These applications were not fulfilling to us because although they were entertaining, they did not help people help other people.

Version 3 of Renkoo is about to begin. We will apply everything we’ve learned — from cutting-edge JavaScript and CSS technology, to our understanding of how applications spread on social networks — to a new domain that we find very fulfilling.

From this point forward, we will serve the mission of helping people help other people.

100 Millionth Drink Sent

September 23, 2007

Booze Mail launched on June 29, and now, less than three months later, Booze Mail users have sent 100 million drinks.

Our users now send over 3 million drinks a day. That’s a lot of cheer around the world! Remember: send drinks, not war. 🙂

Three Martini lunch!

3 Million and 3 Mentions

September 21, 2007

1. Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times:

They came up with the idea of enabling Facebook users to send drinks — a cold beer, vodka martini or something fictional from “Harry Potter” or “Star Trek” — to their friends. In two months, Booze Mail has… served 50 million drinks…

2. Justin Smith, Inside Facebook:

Unlike most experimental apps, Booze Mail took off: it’s currently the 15th most actively used application on Facebook, with over 300,000 daily users and 3,000,000 total installations.

3. Jeff Nolan, Venture Chronicles:

…As evidenced by the fact that they have 3 million Facebook users, it is clear that there is something there “there”.

Alrighty then.

Renkooks agree: nothing says fun like a dragon boat race. What’s a dragon boat, you ask? Why, it’s quite possibly the greatest sport you’ve never tried or watched! Imagine yourself in a huge canoe with 20 paddlers, a drummer, and a steers-person in the back. Now, paddle as fast as you can against seven other boats. Crazy delicious fun and potentially a place to meet your mate! Yar!

Renkoo dragonboat!

To celebrate our love of the big boats, Renkoo helped sponsor a local dragon boat team, Ripple Effect. Now’s your chance to see them in action! As we noted in our weekly newsletter, the S.F. International Dragon Boat Race is this weekend at Treasure Island. Come out to cheer on our team, sample excellent food, and enjoy a world class view of San Francisco.

Just look for a group with our fancy logo which we just happened to put up this week in their honor. Paddles up!