As the ball dropped celebrating another New Year Eve in the books, new and exciting changes have come to our local United Way. As we headed toward the holiday season, we listed a job description to fill our vacant Community Engagement Coordinator Position here in the office. We also worked hard to rank the incoming DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership interns, one of which would become part of our team this spring semester. To our delight, we were able to hire Jennie Chalmers as Community Engagement Coordinator, a veteran of the work of United Way as a former staff member in the Rock River Valley region. She brings, energy, excitement and strong competencies to our work here, and we are thrilled to have her aboard. After rankings and a round of interviews, we were thrilled to be paired with Sierra Turner who is set to graduate in May and is sure to be an asset to a lucky nonprofit in the market for a dedicated and enthusiastic staff member.
As the clock ticked 12:01 on January 1st, 2019 came to be, our organization began a special year in our history as well – the anniversary marking the start of our 90th YEAR of service in DeKalb County! From our humble beginnings as the DeKalb Community Chest, through our years as DeKalb United Way, and after our merger in 2014 with the Sycamore United Fund when we became Kishwaukee United Way, each chapter has brought new and exciting challenges and changes. We could not be prouder of our legacy of service, the hundreds of thousands of dollars we have invested in local programs, and our commitment to caring for those in our community who need a hand up toward a richer and more stable future.
So, now that we all have survived the Polar Vortex of 2019 (and survived having a teenager home for 6 snow days in a row…) we are on to the many projects and programs that will keep us on out toes this first quarter. Programming for Money Smart Week 2019 ~ DeKalb, Lee & LaSalle is in full swing as we prepare for kids reading programs, engagement in the schools, activities at Kish College & NIU and numerous FREE program session to share tips and tricks around financial wellness. I will head off to Milwaukee in February for a week long professional development conference where I hope to gain best practice tips from my colleagues in the region as we all continue to strive to do what we do better, smarter and more creatively. (I might be sneaking away one evening that week to see Sir Elton John in concert… ♪ Can you feel the love tonight ♪ #bucketlist) March will feature our Annual Meeting reporting on past progress and celebrating successes. Look for a change in format as we plan to highlight specifically our 2-1-1 efforts, and use our meeting as an opportunity to support and grow this valuable resource. Before we know it, annual agency allocation time will be upon us, and our Board members will embark on making critical decisions about funding our partner groups. Preparations will begin, too, for our summer Day of Caring Event in June, cementing relationships with local workplaces and businesses and offering a chance for fun, interactive volunteer service opportunities for all ages.
And so – as is customary as a new year dawns, January is often a time for resolutions. I have come up with a few for Kishwaukee United Way. I resolve to:
- Engage our new staff and intern in meaningful work that will further our goals and objectives.
- Work to improve our outreach and engagement around 2-1-1 to continue to get people the help they need.
- Empower the staff and volunteers I work with to lift up our organization and our mission.
- Continue to serve others, share information and grow our resources to help folks LIVE UNITED!