Well folks, it’s official! My two year anniversary with Community Connection was just last week (Um, edit … I started writing this post in May, just after my May 17th anniversary … it’s now June. Things get so crazy here!). Can you believe it? I can’t! What is hardest to believe is the amazing things I’ve learned in that time. For my own reflection and to pay the experience forward, I’d like to share some of those nuggets with you today.
- Partners are a gal’s best friend! I really do mean it! And not just because CC only has 3 full-time staff! When I first started, our agency partners were a huge help in getting me acclimated to Athens. Now they’re like coworkers to me and I’m not sure what I’d do without them.
- No matter how old I am, I will never stop enjoying playing with markers, scissors, glue and the like. The day I got to go shopping at Hobby Lobby for work, Julie said, “It’s like you’ve come to life!”
- It’s really exciting to get to wear shorts to work – until I realize that means I’ll be outside in the 90+ degree Georgia summer heat, leading a volunteer project with people who are also struggling with the boiling temperature. But still, fun to wear shorts to work.
- No matter how fancy the event is, you will most likely end up on your hands and knees at some point. Or carrying boxes and giant tables. Or if you’re like me, dropping a table on your foot. So if you’re running a fancy event, just make sure your outfit either allows you to do all the dirty stuff or you bring a change of clothes for set-up and clean-up. It’s inevitable, no matter how many volunteers you recruit!
- Margaret Mead is quoted as saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Maybe Community Connection hasn’t changed the world, but it certainly has made a lasting impact on the Athens and surrounding communities. What would have happened if our founders in the early 1980s hadn’t decided to take action when they realized the need for a centralized information hub in Athens? Would United Way have eventually brought 211 to our community? Would someone else be running the volunteer center? And that would mean AT&T might be hosting “A Taste of Athens”! Blows.My.Mind.
- Most of the time, individuals donate to organizations they feel are needed in the community and deserve to be supported. But sometimes, people just want to pay
for what you’re offering. To stay afloat in the nonprofit sector, you need to invest time in both sets of donors. This means you need to maintain stellar performance in the community at all times, for those who want to know their donation is making a difference. AND you have to constantly be on the cutting edge in terms of creating new fundraising opportunities to engage new donors. I’m really proud to say I was a part of the first and second annual Taste 10K events so far, and it was great to see how many people loved the “product” we were offering and now know about Community Connection because of it!
- Edit to #4 – no matter what day of the week it is, you may be required to carry large boxes or dirty food trays from one location to another. Or you might be tying off balloons outside (and lose one, like I always do). Or emptying out and draining coolers of drinks and month-old “ice”. Or spinning cotton candy. Or pouring 300 bottles of beer into a dunk tank. Bottom line – be prepared for anything if you work in the nonprofit sector.
And the greatest thing I’ve learned and experienced is that this town is filled with some incredibly giving and loving individuals. Be kind to the people you encounter in your daily life because so many of them give back to this community in extraordinary ways, and may not be recognized for it. So thank you to all of the wonderful interns, volunteers, board members, agency employees and committed community members I’ve come across in my time here so far.
Looking forward to more fun and learning in the future!