Summer Sweep

This summer season saw a lot of activity across our organizations – from our internal working s to our external relationships. Ready, set…summer updates…GO! We started the warmer months with the engagement of a NGOLD intern from NIU. Sarah worked with us on social media and outreach efforts. She helped us to prep for our largest volunteer event, Day of Caring in mid-June. Armed with our bright yellow tees, the Day of Caring Committee, and staffers Sarah, Jackie and I embarked on a tour of the agency projects happening that day. We saw a multitude of gardeners, painters, organizers, and folks delivering & serving meals. We were excited to have some families and kids along — even 5 year old Jack harvesting strawberries at the VAC Community Garden! Props to Roger Kyler Photography for capturing our crew in photos that morning. June also was the start of our early campaign season, with Target Distribution leading the way as a premier partner. IN addition to our speaking to team members about our work, we were lucky enough to be involved in a HUGE — I mean HUGE…clothing giveaway. We mobilized local agencies who had a need for clothing & home goods, and helped Target donated gaylords full (my new word…) of clothes to local kids and families. Target continues to be a strong community partner, as we look forward to a special day of volunteer outreach with their team in the near future.

July came in with a bang in two ways — the first was with traditional fireworks on the 4th, but the surprises continued on the 5th when our six-year coordinator of Outreach and Finance, Jackie DiNatale resigned just after the holiday weekend. 🙁 Plans were made quickly to wish her well on her next adventures, and, as Sarah’s internship ended, I found myself alone trying to ascertain the best path forward with staffing. Our Executive Board stepped in and we rallied to host a Organizational Mapping meeting toward a larger strategic discussion of where we were headed, and how we wanted to get there. Kristin Miller, local consultant who we had been impressed with in committee work organizing and participating in DCNP’s Nonprofit Day, walked us through a development and board assessment plan, and we are off & running! We plan to hire some temp help with operations and November’s Taste of the Vine, but all is moving forward in a meaningful way.

August began with a visit to Bloomington, IL where myself and two Board members checked in with United Way colleagues from across the state at the United Way of Illinois Annual Meeting for updates on the state budget, human service issues, and more. As we gained perspective on what was happening with the 211 initiative – a first call for help phone number to refer people to services – we shared our progress toward making 211 a reality in DeKalb County. Funding models, collaborative partners and methods to get this project done are in the works with a hopeful March 2017 rollout. And soooo….after a much needed and restful fishing adventure with my parents, hubby and son prior to school starting, I was able to brace myself for my only child’s FIRST day of high school. Time sure flies! (I wasn’t allowed to take a first day of school picture, (PLEASE mom…) but I rest in the knowledge that every project I undertake, every late night or early morning meeting I have, and every new person that I introduce United Way’s work to, helps us make this place we call home a rich, vibrant, and healthy community for all. Onward Fall – here we come!

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