As we continue to celebrate VOLUNTEER and COMPASSION month, we want to highlight our friend, Gard Jameson’s incredible leadership, volunteerism, and compassion for our community. Gard is an inspiring philanthropic leader in Southern Nevada who helped co-found Compassionate Las Vegas, Children's Advocacy Alliance, and the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada. Gard also gives his time to other organizations like Delivering with Dignity, Nevada Community Foundation, and is also a pastor at Grace Community Church. We are so grateful to have Gard as a volunteer and he uses UWSN’s Volunteer Connect platform to deliver meals to those who need them most with Delivering with Dignity! Read more about Gard Jameson below!
What inspired you to volunteer?
When I was in college I learned through Big Brothers, Big Sisters, with a young man who had Cerebral Palsy, that it is good to be a donor of funds but that the most valuable resource we each have is our time… I spent two years with little brother, Kurt and the highlight of my undergraduate career was when the police were called to Kurt’s home, because there was a marching band, the Stanford Marching Band, playing “Happy Birthday Kurt” among other songs, coming down Burlingame Avenue!
How are you supporting our community through volunteering?
My wife and I started Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada 12 years ago… to provide Free Healthcare for those without access, for those who cannot afford insurance, including Dental Care and Behavior Healthcare, vmsn.org.
Another project that I helped initiate two years ago with Julie Murray, Punam Mathur, and others, with United Way’s assistance, is Delivering with Dignity. My great privilege for the last two years has been to deliver meals every Monday to those needing help, deliverwithdignitylv.org.
Lastly, Julie Murray and I began a "whispering conversation" over 10 years ago that has become Compassionate Las Vegas, a non-profit dedicated to amplifying a culture of compassion within our community, that is connected to over 450 communities globally that are doing the same, compassionatelv.org.
My recent passion is to imagine a statewide culture of Restorative Justice filter throughout our Criminal Justice system. Our Attorney General, Aaron Ford agreed, and we have been working on it. We now have many volunteers who are serving to move our system of Punishment toward a system in which Compassion becomes the North Star. We just started Dads in Schools with the help of Troy Martinez and his daughter, Kristen, bringing dads and eventually moms into schools to create safe learning spaces, dadsinschools.com.
The Clark County School Board approved this program a couple weeks back with Superintendent Jara’s blessing.
Why did you choose to volunteer through UWSN’s Volunteer Connect platform?
I have been an advocate of United Way since coming to Las Vegas, where I helped to start the Nevada Community Foundation, at the offices of United Way in 1989. The original vision was that we needed places where there could be “whispering conversations” about the needs of the community. United Way has continued to serve as such a place. We need more conversations to amplify the critical needs within our community. Climate change, education, healthcare, workforce development, arts & culture, social services, restorative justice are just a few of the sectors that require such conversations. United Way’s byline: "Donate, Volunteer, Advocate” says it all!
What does compassion mean to you?
Compassion means “being with the suffering,” both locally and globally,
1) being able to “see the suffering, truly see it,”
2) being able to “feel the suffering, be empathetic in a deep, heartfelt way,” and
3) being able to “act responsively to suffering, in whatever way one finds to do, as a peacemaker.”
With those three elements, compassion finds its true meaning.
How important is volunteering to create a compassionate community?
Volunteering is key to creating a compassionate community. As Albert Schweitzer remarked, “the only truly happy people are those who know how to serve!