A virtual volunteering trailblazer, Jayne Cravens has conducted and promoted online service work for decades. When traditional volunteerism shuddered to a stop in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic exploded, Jayne rolled up her sleeves and got to work, extending her skillset to help keep organizations near and far afloat.
Perhaps as a result of her online prowess, the 55-year-old Portland, Oregon resident is seemingly everywhere, doing everything, in the name of service. From promoting culture and arts for Washington County, Oregon, to mentoring former colleagues and people living in Afghanistan and Ukraine, Jayne is making a difference whenever and whenever she can, from the comfort of her own home. The self-described curious volunteer is changing the world, one keystroke at a time.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I’ve volunteered my whole life. I’m curious and want to see things first hand. Volunteerism lets you have first hand experience without a filter, that helps me connect more personally with causes I believe in.
Describe your volunteerism.
I connect with people online to support and promote causes, including: Cultural Coalition of Washington County, Oregon, WorldPulse, League of Women Voters Oregon – Washington County Unit, Forest Grove, Oregon’s Public Safety Advisory Commission (PSAC), Adelante Mujeres, Bpeace, TechSoup, and as a frequent contributor on various platforms like Wikipedia and reddit to promote information about volunteerism and community service. In the past, I’ve also helped on site with World Oregon, with Forest Grove, Oregon’s Public Safety Advisory Commission (PSAC) and with a local temporary family shelter via Family Promise. In addition to my work with many nonprofit organizations, I also independently serve former colleagues and people living in Afghanistan and Ukraine with their work to help the people of their countries; as an occasional contractor with the UN, I have developed relationships that I continue through mentorships, mostly by helping individuals to navigate education and career goals.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
As a volunteer with Bpeace, I worked on a project for months that ended up not working out. The organization gave me an award for that work honoring my tenacity. I realized in that moment that it’s not about the number of hours or the end destination, it’s really the journey. I felt more valued with that recognition than I ever felt volunteering on other projects where I was supposedly successful.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
We have to actively connect with each other and have shared experiences. There’s no better way to build our society than through volunteer engagement.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your service?
It’s most rewarding when I’ve learned something and I have a lot of fun doing it.
How have you continued to volunteer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
I have had the luxury that volunteering online wasn’t unfamiliar to me. I’ve helped organizations get used to a new way of working with volunteers. I’ve served as an ambassador to help other organizations conduct online volunteerism – some didn’t even know how to have online meetings!
What do you want people to learn from your story?
Try to remember that the priority is the organization and its mission is not what you might want to do.
In two words, what does volunteering mean to you?
How can readers help?
The TechSoup online community welcomes your questions, advice and participation. Please visit their website for more information about how you can connect.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Jayne Cravens? Find local volunteer opportunities.