Week 7: Nearing the end

by Kelsie Fields, Westerville Symphony

As we go into the 7th week of the fellowship, many of us are nearing the end of our projects. This holds true for me as well with the Beethoven 5k taking place this coming Sunday!

We are in the long-stretch of finishing up our swag bags, ramping up our marketing efforts, and pushing to reach out registration goal! I have been leading our marketing plan and developing our email campaigns and social media posts to help get the word out.

The race will take place around Westerville and kicks off at the Westerville Sports Complex. We are still working out the final behind-the-scenes logistics details, and organizing this 5k has given me even greater insight into all the workings of an event. Organizing 5ks is slightly different from planning other types of fundraisers because most of the time (if not always), the 5k is outside, and this leads to the need for permits, insurance, and other clearances with the local government. These are all things I hadn’t thought of before but something I will definitely keep in mind for future events.

One of the reasons I really enjoy development work is the opportunity it provides to interact with different kinds of people. Events make it even easier to meet new people because the audience always changes with the type of event!

Summer in Columbus is one of the best things in the world, so I’m sad to see it waning. There’s so much to do and see, even in the suburbs! I’ve really enjoyed getting to experience more of what the Greater Columbus area has to offer. Between farmers markets, free concerts (such as the one at the Columbus Commons we all attended last week!), and local 5ks, there are so many ways to engage with others, support local businesses, and have fun!

 

 

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Going once, going twice, SOLD!

Happy Sunday!

I have a lot to catch you all up on! These past two weeks with Hope Hollow have been what I’d like to call a “beautiful chaos”. For those of you who have planned a fundraising event, you may know what I am referring to. Fundraising requires meticulous planning and coordination, lots of creativity, supportive volunteers and friends willing to help prepare the venue, and of course prayers (loads of them). When the day of the event finally arrives it almost feels as though you can’t breathe your sigh of relief until that first attendee arrives. However, a week has passed and we are still in crunch mode. Receipting the generous donors, thanking sponsors, returning and delivering supplies we borrowed, accounting the costs and at the same time managing to still run a nonprofit.

BUT aside from all of that, I am so pleased to announce how wonderfully the fundraiser turned out. We had over 150 attendees and volunteers, the weather was miraculous (considering Columbus was experiencing what seemed like monsoons just days before), and Hope Hollow was able to inspire its audience through its mission. Shortly I will be able to share the exact amount of funds raised from the event. I do know that because of “A Garden Party” and the individuals that continue to believe in our mission, Hope Hollow will be able to serve so many more children and young adults. It truly was a magical night (as cliche as that may sound). I was moved by the selflessness of those who donated to such a wonderful cause.

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As I am typing this, I am constantly referring to Hope Hollow as “we”. I truly do feel as though I am a part of this fabulous nonprofit. I have said in past blogs how I may be bias, but even over the course of 7 weeks I have grown to admire this “job”.  “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I have used this quote multiple times to describe my experience to friends and family when referring to my fellowship this summer. In a PowerPoint I created to be shown at the fundraiser, there was a quote that I’d like to share from a woman who Hope Hollow has provided services to in the past. She said, “Hope Hollow is more than a non-profit, they have become family”. So many of those we help have the same feelings toward Kevin and Jane. They invest so much of their time and energy to make strangers feel comfortable, supported, and loved.

 

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So many of my friends and family drove up from Cincinnati, Ohio to support me and Hope Hollow at “A Garden Party”.

I am so proud to be part of the non-profit community here in Columbus, Ohio!

Best,

Abby Wocher

 

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Golfing, Giving, Cooking, Caring

This week was super unique at Ronald McDonald House, especially since it started off on Monday with one of our biggest fundraising events of the year! The 31st Annual Joe Mortellaro Golf Classic was a HUGE event, with over 400 golfers that were split among 5 different golf courses in the Dublin/Powell area, along with several more staff members and volunteers. I had SO much fun helping out and took on a variety of roles throughout the day, including registration, collecting money and signs, and driving a golf cart around to make sure things were going smoothly and to thank golfers for their participation. I even got to take a shot at one of the holes, along with a few other staff members, and learned that my golfing skills are not quite up to par.

I was amazed by the generosity of the participants at this event. Throughout the day, they gave generously to RMHC, and demonstrated that they recognize and believe in the purpose behind the organization. They seemed genuinely excited to be a part of giving. Following the tournament, all of the golfers, staff, and volunteers met for a big banquet at one of the golf courses, Scioto Reserve. The event was so elegant and fun, and was a true celebration of all that had been accomplished and given for the children and families of RMHC. I can also now say that I’ve been to a party with Urban and Shelley Meyer and Chris and Lori Holtmann. (So cool btw).

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Coach Urban Meyer and his wife Shelley, along with Chris and Lori Holtmann, joined us at Scioto Reserve after the Golf Classic and donated some incredible ticket packages, raising thousands of dollars in support for RMHC.  (Photo courtesy of RMHC of Central Ohio)

A highlight of the event was listening to one of our RMHC families tell their story about what the House has meant to them, including 7 year old Ashton, who created superhero paintings to be auctioned at the event and stood up in front of hundreds of people to share why he loves the Ronald McDonald House. The audience was extremely receptive and bid generously on his paintings, and Coach Meyer even signed the paintings to drive donations even higher. It was incredible to see the community come together around Ashton and his family and RMHC as a whole to show so much love and support.

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Ashton with some of his superhero paintings, which were sold at the banquet with the proceeds benefiting RMHC 

I also had the opportunity to shadow with the volunteer management staff on Thursday. I spent the morning checking and cleaning rooms with a volunteer group from Nationwide Insurance before hanging out at the desk with Kate (Volunteer Director at RMHC), who provided an overview of the administrative side, which includes keeping the master schedule, contacting additional volunteers when the House is short on staff, writing thank you notes, coordinating projects for large volunteer groups, organizing training sessions for regular volunteers, and much more. I admire the fact that Kate is able to balance all of this so well. Managing people is HARD-I learned that as an RA-and she manages a lot more people than I ever did! RMHC is blessed with thousands of volunteers every year, but it takes dedicated staff to coordinate so many people coming in and out of the House.

After meeting with Kate, I spent some time observing our first ever “Team Cuisine” meal group. Team Cuisine aims to simplify the meal preparation process for our meal groups (because cooking for 100+ people can be intimidating!) and to create more nutritious meals for our families. To participate, meal groups simply provide a donation to RMHC, and our staff members do all of the shopping and planning for the menu. The meal group then shows up to cook and serve the food, and they get unique, small group instruction time on preparing nutritious meals with a professional chef!

I was amazed by my time shadowing the volunteers at how innovative the people who work in the House are and how much time they spend trying to tailor the services provided to meet the needs of our families. For example, cleaning might seem like a simple and routine task, but RMHC’s volunteer force takes extra care to sanitize thoroughly and frequently, with some of our little guests with compromised immune systems in mind. Similarly, the diverse and nutritious meals offered by Team Cuisine are the direct result of observing children and other family members with special dietary restrictions and needs staying in the house in an attempt to serve them better.

It was truly heartwarming to see two crucial aspects of successful non-profits this week-an extremely generous community that sees the significance of the work being done here, and a group of staff and volunteers that care with all of their hearts and constantly look for ways to serve children and families better. I’m so proud to be interning at such an amazing organization and will certainly take the example they have set in terms of community connections and dedication to the purpose of their work with me wherever I end up in the future.

-Courtney

 

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Lead On

This week I had the chance to sit down with the Executive Director of Ohio Wildlife Center, Dusty Lombardi, for a few questions. I was primarily interested in her personal take on nonprofit leadership as I’m reading the book that all of the Columbus Foundation Fellows were given on our first day called The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide. This book highlights the importance of solid leadership so that the passion driving a nonprofit is able to outlive the leader, a common issue in small nonprofit organizations. Ohio Wildlife Center was founded by Don Burton in 1984 and served as Executive Director until his passing in 2014. Dusty, then stepped into the Executive Director position, and has led the organization successfully ever since.

I asked Dusty about her personal keys to nonprofit leadership and the first thing she said to me is that it’s crucial to be diverse as a leader. This means when surrounding yourself with people, utilizing resources and even investing money, do not put all your eggs in one basket (snake, duck or chicken). Differing voices and opinions can work to strengthen the organization by bringing the best ideas to the top. She also emphasized the importance of being trustworthy and sound. In a nonprofit organization it is vital that your employees trust your competency and morals and perhaps even more importantly, so do your donors. We are asking people for their money so they must believe strongly in our mission and also in our ability to accomplish that mission.

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Executive Director, Dusty Lombardi with Chair of the Board of Trustees, Jeff Walker

I was also curious to ask Dusty about the threat of burnout and how to stay inspired. We’ve discussed this in our fellowship cohort meetings and it can be a very real issue, especially in the nonprofit sector covered in red tape and limited funds. She told me, “It’s easy to stay motivated because of what we do.” “What we do” is take broken animals, animals often caught in the destructive path of human beings, and we do our best to fix them. Sometimes this is not possible. But other times– wonderful times– it is. Those are the moments when you take mental pictures, stow them away in the back of your mind and pull them out when the going gets tough. She spoke of Torch, a red tail hawk brought into the hospital after being caught on fire due to power lines. Torch has since then made a miraculous recovery, sprouting feathers and there is, once again, light in his little dark eyes– he’ll be ready for release back into the wild soon. Stories like these are the positive reinforcement that we need to keep going.

My favorite part of my interview with Dusty was when I asked her what she may have learned in her time at Ohio Wildlife Center. She replied, “The dedication of the people in a small nonprofit is so different than any other environment. Nobody’s going to get rich, that’s not why they’re doing this. They’re doing it to be a part of something larger than all of us.” I think that’s what I’ve learned too. These are people who care with a capital C. It’s not an afterthought or an absent-minded donation toward a cause to alleviate some deep-rooted guilt. They live and breathe caring, not only about our organizational mission but also about each other. There are i-appreciate-you-just-because post-it notes, birthday cards, sorry-about-the-loss-of-your-guinea-pig cards, and occasional surprise Amazon gifts from Logan on their desks and littered about the office. They’re not just passionate about animals, they’re passionate about people too. That’s what makes leadership work.

 

Olivia Adkins

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Without change, there would be no butterflies.

I am not sure who said the quote that I decided to title my blog this week (I tried to look it up and could not find anything), but whoever you are, you are really on to something.  Change is all around us, especially in nature as seasons change the color, size, and function of plants and animals. In my opinion, butterflies exhibit change the most gracefully of all the tiny creatures. The Audubon staff and I spent a lot of time this week marveling at the transformation that was taking place right before our eyes from caterpillar to chrysalis to beautiful butterfly.  Katie, Victoria (the MetroParks interns) felt like proud moms as the damp and frazzled butterflies emerged from their safe chrysalises into the world.

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We went through some heartache when a few of the caterpillars came down with the “black death” and did not survive to the chrysalis stage, but that made it all the more sweet when we got to release these survivors into the wild. These butterflies inspired me to believe that beauty can come out of change. Transitioning from college to a 9-5 job has been a challenge, even though I am working at a wonderful place with amazing people. I am moving out of my apartment I have lived in for 2 years next week and I have barely started packing up because I really do not want to leave my cozy home. So thanks, caterpillars-turned-butterflies, for reassuring me that sometimes its okay to change environments in order to get some pretty neat wings.

In other news, I got to build my garden this week and plant a whole bunch of herbs in it! It was a blast that should have been awful considering the heat, but I absolutely loved every second of it. Shout out to Anne, I could not have done it without her!

IMG_7513Pictured above is a tasty mix of basil, sage, parsley, lavender, mint, rosemary, tarragon, curry, and stevia. The gardens have to lay horizontal on the ground for the next 2(ish) weeks so the herbs can take root then we will display them outside the center.

Mark August 9th on your calendars and you too can learn how to grow your own herbs at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Until next time!

Peace and trees,

Tori

 

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Week Seven: Girls, Who Run the (Non-profit) World

Week seven has been awesome, inspiring, and best of all filled to the brim with girl power! I have bragged plenty about my coworkers but this week our executive director, Jennifer, and our Development Director, Kelly, killed it every day and they have left me fired up to make some serious change in our community.

Our week started with a meeting at CoHatch (seriously love this place in downtown Worthington) with Tania from Porttion. We were able to sit down with her for about an hour listening to her organization’s purpose and how it intersects with ours, and her organization offered to donate their leftover (super healthy, might I add) food to the pantry every week! And as if that wasn’t enough, we are partnering with Porttion to plan a donor appreciation event. This meeting was my absolute favorite part of the week because it was jam-packed with ideas, saying “yes” to ideas that haven’t been done before, and community partners coming together to support each other, not compete with each other. And best of all, all of the movers and shakers involved were women! If nothing else, this fellowship has inspired me everyday to keep pursuing my passions and  to not underestimate my abilities.

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Kelly (left) and Jennifer (right) sitting outside after our meeting at CoHatch, soaking up our successful meeting!

This week we also had a Steering Committee meeting for our annual fundraiser which focused mostly on continued gathering of sponsorships. Other than meetings, my week consisted a lot of integrating our organizations data into SalesForce from Sumac, a big change that is very time-consuming but is also very necessary… Another task that seems mundane but is crucial to the operations of a non-profit.

My last thought for this week is another ode to the women I work with, surprise, surprise. On Thursday morning I walked into the office to find Kelly, Jennifer, and Janet (our part-time communications staff member, who is also incredible) brainstorming ideas for our 10th Anniversary Celebration! This is not until 2018, mind you, but they already have so many good ideas that I was delegated to start taking notes of them on our chalkboard. These women think way out of the box and do not set any limitations on their ideas.

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This is the sign that lives on the door of mine and Kelly’s office, featuring an actual quote from Jennifer, our executive director.

With them, the answer is ALWAYS yes, and the follow-up includes “Ok, so how are we going to do this?”. That has got to be my favorite part of this team- they haven’t made it this far, and this fast, by saying no. Every single person here is willing to work outside of their comfort zone for the improvement of his or her community, and that’s this week’s reason why I love the Worthington Resource Pantry.

 

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Community Engagement

Hello again! Just to refresh everyone’s memory, my name is Jake and I am working with Green Columbus throughout the duration of the summer. This week I was struggling to think of a topic to talk about, but then I remembered an event that I went to last week, leading me to write about real world community engagement efforts in the non-profit sector.

I’m sure as all of you know, community engagement is tough. Nothing is worse than the feeling that comes after planning an event and wondering if anyone will actually participate. As a college student, I have been lucky enough to be a part of multiple organizations at Ohio State, but I thought that my engagement in organizations would end after I graduate; and I assumed that ‘s what a lot of people experienced. This past week I have come to realize that I was completely wrong in my assumption: people love to be a part of a community and aid in any that they can.

Last week, I sat in on a Greater Columbus Growing Coalition meeting. The purpose of the meeting was just to inform the general assembly of upcoming events and meetings. I was there to speak with a City of Columbus Land Bank employee about their framework for creating green spaces in Columbus. When I heard of the meeting, I thought that there would only be a handful of people there, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There were probably around 50 people that attended, and all of them wanted to help their community.

By attending that meeting, I realized that community engagement does in fact extend past our college years, but also I learned that people like a sense of community. Members of a community want nothing more than to make their community feel like a home.

So, my advice for you next time that you are worrying whether people will come to your event or not is to take a deep breath and understand that there is a community out there that cares about your cause as much as you do.

Until next time,

Jake

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