|Posted by HALO Award on July 2, 2018 at 5:10 PM|
Cindy Walkenbach, Volunteer Awardee, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Please give a brief explanation of what you do at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.
I’m President of the two hundred-member RSABG Volunteer Organization and a member of the Garden’s Board of Overseers. My regular volunteer assignment is as a Nature Interpreter (docent) leading tours for elementary students and adults and supporting a wide variety of community and educational events.
When and why did you first get involved with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?
I began volunteering on a limited basis in 2009 and became a regular volunteer in 2011 upon completion of the required Garden training. I love nature and being outdoors and always knew that once I retired, I’d want to volunteer here.
What motivates you to stay involved at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?
I thoroughly enjoy the interaction of introducing children and adults to the native plants and animals that are part of our California heritage. I also appreciate the camaraderie of the wonderful people who volunteer and work at the Garden: well-educated, committed, passionate folks who love the natural world and strive daily to preserve it.
What is your favorite memory of volunteering with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?
Several years ago I lead a tour of second graders from a local Title I school, and it was apparent that most children had not been in a natural setting like the Garden provides. I remember one little girl in particular whose excitement was palpable. At the end of the tour when asked what she had learned, she threw up her arms with great enthusiasm and exclaimed, “I just LOVE NATURE!” I think of her each time I lead a tour.
What has surprised you most about working with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden? What do you wish other people knew about Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?
The diversity of the Garden’s activities is amazing, but prior to volunteering, I simply knew it as a lovely, peaceful place to walk. What it really is, however, is a fabulous 86-acre outdoor “museum” devoted to preserving California’s native plants which represent 25% of all U.S. flora. It houses the botany graduate program for Claremont Graduate University and is a major plant research center with an extensive library. Its conservation and restoration programs operate a seed bank, cultivate native plants for areas devastated by natural disasters, and it houses the tenth largest herbarium in the U.S. with over 1.2 million species. In recent years, it has developed a retail nursery of native plants and has become a lovely venue for weddings and special events.
What would you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?
The opportunities here are countless and appeal to many interests. One can cashier in the gift shop, pull weeds and tend plants, quietly catalogue in the research library, or create lovely bouquets for events as a member of the Native Design team. One can use skills acquired over years of working or try totally new things to do. Volunteers can commit to regular assignments like becoming docents or simply help out occasionally for events and projects. What is truly special are the friendships formed among volunteers and with very appreciative Garden leaders and staffers whose gratitude for the volunteers is demonstrated often. A sense of “team” pervades the organization and the common thread that links us all is our collective commitment to protect, preserve, and educate our community about California’s amazing native flora.
For more information about volunteering with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, please visit www.rsabg.org/volunteer/volunteer
|Posted by HALO Award on June 1, 2018 at 2:50 PM|
Last week the 2017 HALO Award awardees had their first peer learning session as Cohort 7 at the LA84 Foundation. This was the first of four peer learning sessions that will take place during the HALO Award program year. At these sessions, HALO Award awardees focus on relationship building amongst the cohort organizations, addressing specific volunteer program issues, participating in facilitated discussions by Blue Garnet, and hearing from guest speakers, including HALO Award program alumni.
The HALO Award is a capacity building effort to strengthen and sustain nonprofit organizations by supporting volunteer programs and recognizing and rewarding volunteer doing exemplary work in their communities. With that purpose in mind, this first peer learning session focused on reflecting on the role of volunteer programs in organizations, as well as, evaluating each organization’s current volunteer program and addressing their strengths and weaknesses. This activity allowed for cross-organizational discussion that revealed themes of common challenges and approaches from the organizations.
Katie Geyer & Keren Taylor, WriteGirl
Cohort 7 was also guided through an “Empathy Mapping” activity that tasked participants with putting themselves in the shoes of their volunteers so that they could understand the volunteer experience from a new perspective. This revealed areas of strength and potential improvement in their programs.
It was an exciting first peer learning session for Cohort 7 – stayed tuned for the upcoming release of the 2018 HALO Award Application for Cohort 8 this month!
|Posted by HALO Award on February 27, 2018 at 5:30 PM|
On Thursday, February 15, 2018, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation honored the 2017 HALO Award winners at the historic Marion Davies Beach House in Santa Monica. It was a warm, sunny day full of joyful celebration to recognize some of the most inspiring volunteer “angels” in our community.
Of the 60 total applications received, a Selection Committee, comprised of local nonprofit and foundation leaders, selected six Los Angeles-based nonprofit organizations to be the recipients of a $25,000 grant - $20,000 for the nonprofit to strengthen its volunteer program and $5,000 to a nominated volunteer to honor his or her outstanding service to the organization.
From left: John Maceri, The People Concern; Kristina Deutsch, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation; Nancy Stiles, Lake Avenue Community Foundation; Liza Bray, Partners for Children South LA; Simon Lopez; Goodwill Industries of Southern California
Not pictured: Angel Roberson Daniels, The Angell Foundation; Jeff Kim, California Wellness Foundation
The 2017 awardees, which include Elizabeth House, Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), Los Angeles Center for Law & Justice, Pasadena Educational Foundation, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and WriteGirl were officially announced last November, but came together for the first time at the Luncheon to celebrate and publicly recognize their nominated volunteers.
Each year, the Foundation invites an influential individual or organization to speak to the value of service in the nonprofit sector. This year, guests were gifted with an inspiring, heartfelt message from Fred Ali, President & CEO of the Weingart Foundation which works to advance fairness, inclusion, and opportunity for all Southern Californians, especially those communities hit hardest by persistent poverty. Fred shared why service & volunteerism have been and continue to be important parts of his journey in philanthropy.
Keynote Speaker: Fred Ali, President & CEO of the Weingart Foundation
Immediately following the Luncheon, organizations wasted no time kicking-off their year of capacity building support, the third piece of the HALO Award, by convening for a program orientation. At the orientation, the newest awardees had the opportunity to learn from and be encouraged by two past HALO awardees: Anne Viricel, Executive Director, San Bernardino Symphony (2015 winner) and Nancy Stiles, Executive Director, Lake Avenue Community Foundation (2016 winner). Over the next year, the six organizations will receive support in the form of peer networking sessions and one-on-one coachings led by the Foundation and Blue Garnet, a strategy and management firm for social change organizations, to strengthen organizational capacity around volunteerism.
The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation looks forward to working with another group of amazing organizations!
Deborah Enterante, Nancy Norris, and Kate Rhymer (Volunteer Awardee), Elizabeth House
Keren Taylor & Clare Sera (Volunteer Awardee), WriteGirl
Alex Nataren & Lilia Aguilar (Volunteer Awardee), Heart of Los Angeles
Russell Faucett & Cindy Walkenbach (Volunteer Awardee), Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Jacqueline Chun, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation & Annabelle Rosborough, Southern California Grantmakers
|Posted by HALO Award on February 7, 2018 at 2:30 PM|
On January 24, 2018, the 2016 HALO Award awardees met for the last time as “Cohort 6” for their final peer convening at The California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities. The organizations reflected on their experience with the HALO Award program and how their volunteer management capacity has evolved since receiving the Award. All six organizations highlighted that formalizing their volunteer program with the creation and development of a volunteer management plan was instrumental in pushing their efforts to the next level, but perhaps what most notably echoed throughout the room during their last formal meeting together was gratitude for their new “HALO family.” In her reflection, Kim Goldberg-Roth, Executive Director of Strength United said, “Sometimes in nonprofit you feel alone in your struggles, but then you get in a room [at a HALO Award peer convening] and you realize that you are not alone.”
It was obvious from their first meeting at the HALO Award Luncheon in February 2017 that this group would form a special bond. They exchanged ideas and supported one another not only during their four peer learning sessions, but also outside of the designated program time, taking full advantage of the HALO Award experience.
The convening also included a panel discussion represented by past HALO Award awardees including Kate Berman, Community & Corporate Relations Manager at The People Concern, and Kristen McGuiness, Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager at CASA of Los Angeles. Each program alum shared their own organization’s stories, including how they are managing to sustain the efforts developed during their HALO experiences.
While the last peer convening is always bittersweet, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation wishes Cohort 6 great success and looks forward to staying in contact to hear of their progress – especially at the first-ever HALO Award Alumni Convening this April. Stay tuned!
Margaret Morrow, David Daniels, & Sandra Madera, Public Counsel
Hayk Tahmasian & Gabe Middleton, human-I-T
|Posted by HALO Award on February 7, 2018 at 2:05 PM|
Cibele Souza, Volunteer Awardee, Strength United
Please give a brief explanation of what you do at Strength United.
I'm an In-Home counselor. I work with families struggling with substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other challenges.
When and why did you first get involved with Strength United?
I started with Strength United in September 2013 because I heard great things about their community program.
What is your favorite memory of volunteering with Strength United?
I have several favorite memories. One of them is with a teenager who was struggling to finish high school. One year after concluding the Family Preservation Program with her family, she contacted me to share that she was starting a college program!
What has surprised you most about working with Strength United? What do you wish other people knew about Strength United?
Strength United has amazing supervisors. Strength United makes a difference in people's lives by all the support and programs they offer to the community.
What would you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with Strength United?
It's a challenging population to work with, but if your heart is in it, you will have an amazing experience.
For more information about volunteering with Strength United, please visit www.csun.edu/eisner-education/strength-united/volunteering
|Posted by HALO Award on December 2, 2017 at 12:55 AM|
Last month, Cohort 6 met for their third peer convening at The California Endowment’s Center for Healthy Communities. At this point in the HALO Award program year, the six organizations are well into the creation of their volunteer management plans. These multi-year strategic plans are designed to increase the capacity of the organizations through the improvement and strengthening of their volunteer programs.
During this session, participants were guided through a discussion to identify potential risks in implementing their volunteer management plans, as well as specific ways to minimize and address these potential barriers proactively. Additionally, three organizations presented “Spotlight Cases,” in which an organization has the opportunity to “spotlight” a specific issue or challenge in their volunteer program and then receive feedback and suggestions from their peers to address the concern. These peer-to-peer learning opportunities are highly valuable to the Cohort.
Danette Martin, Program Officer, Corporation for National & Community Service
In the afternoon, Danette Martin, Program Officer at the Corporation for National & Community Service, joined the convening to share about the Corporation’s AmeriCorps VISTA Program, a national service program that supports efforts to alleviate poverty by engaging individuals, 18 years and older, in a year of full-time service with a sponsoring organization. Danette explained the upcoming application process and highlighted the potential impact of mobilizing AmeriCorps volunteers to support organizational capacity and growth. This presentation was well-timed as Cohort 6 continues to refine their volunteer management plans. The intimate setting allowed participants to ask Danette organization-specific questions on ways they could utilize AmeriCorps volunteers as additions to their volunteer management plans.
For more information about the AmeriCorps VISTA program and the recently released 2018 Request for Concept Papers and application process, please visit the Resources page on the HALO Award website. From there you can access information about individual programs, application deadlines, and Danette Martin’s direct contact information.
|Posted by HALO Award on October 31, 2017 at 6:10 PM|
Blue Garnet is a strategy and management firm for social change organizations seeking to translate vision to reality and go from good enough to truly great. In 2012, Blue Garnet joined the HALO Award team to lead the capacity building training throughout the grant term.
What notable evidence of impact have you seen in your direct work with the organizations?
We are incredibly fortunate to partner with the Foundation in learning and capacity building over the past five years. Over this time, not only have we seen remarkable changes in individual awardee organizations, but we have also developed evidence of this change from data collected across all cohorts to date. We can confidently say that participation in HALO leads to changes in awardees’ mindset and approach toward volunteer management. Specifically, awardees:
See their volunteer programs as a strategic part of, or an asset to, an integrated whole;
Recognize the importance of investing in volunteer management capacity to support organizational growth; and
Translate this into tangible actions (e.g. making time to plan, formalizing key roles and procedures, building infrastructure, broadening organizational buy-in)
How do you think the award’s approach supports the growth of both the volunteer program and organizations?
The Foundation considers growth of the volunteer program and overall organization to be integrally linked. Volunteer programs can be a smart and cost-effective way for organizations to expand their services; at the same time, organizations are hard pressed to scale up without the “X” factor that a strong volunteer program can provide. As a result, HALO was intentionally designed to formalize and bolster volunteer programs, while further integrating these programs with the rest of their organizations. For example, many awardees now consider volunteer programs a key component of their strategic planning process, helping them maximize potential use of all their key assets and capabilities.
How do you think the HALO Award program fits in the landscape of nonprofit capacity building programs in our region?
HALO stands out for its focus on volunteer program management. By combining financial support with technical assistance to build volunteer management capacity, the Foundation has create a real “niche” for itself in our region. This focus on volunteer management capacity really allows the Foundation to invest its limited resources to make a substantive difference with awardees.
What also stands out is the continuous learning that takes place as part of HALO. By soliciting feedback regularly, HALO design is always being refined, helping the Foundation to make the most of its investment along the way.
What are some opportunities for other funders to support volunteer programs?
The HALO Award offers a great example of how a modest investment in volunteer management capacity reaps a great return. HALO leverages limited funding dollars to help an organization take its volunteer program to the next level. We see a range of opportunities for funders to support volunteer programs. For example:
Recognize the value of volunteerism – Ask your grantees about the value volunteers bring to their organizations. Talk to them about how volunteers advance their mission, augment their program delivery and help foster a culture of philanthropy within their organizations.
Invest in strengthening volunteer programs – Understand what it takes to create and maintain a quality program, then find ways to support that. This can range from direct funding to recruit, support and retain the “right” volunteers, to capacity building to make strategic use of volunteers. Volunteers are effectively part of a nonprofits “talent” pool, and as such, require planning, learning and infrastructure to ensure this talent is committed and qualified for its “jobs."
Talk to us – This is just a starting point. We (Blue Garnet) and the Foundation have many more ideas and would be happy to share more!
For organizations who want to formalize or strengthen their volunteer programs, what is one piece of advice you would share with them?
To nonprofits: Just do it! Take the time to sit with colleagues whose work involve volunteers and focus on what is important together. Based on our experience, for most nonprofits, this means 1) better understanding your volunteers, 2) formalize the work you need done, and 3) develop a plan to align these two. Sounds easier said than done? Then our second piece of advice would be this: Apply for the next HALO Award!
To funders: Don’t start from scratch! Talk to your colleagues and grantees. Share what you are learning and doing. And encourage your grantees to apply for HALO!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
One thought to leave you with: In the broader field of management science, great companies are great because they are able to get the “right” people in the “right” seats on the bus. We often think of human resources in terms of employees, but volunteers represent an amazing and under-tapped resource. Our hope is that our sector can learn to embrace the role volunteers play, in so doing harnessing the power they bring to our missions, communities and impact.
Left: Way-Ting Chen, Co-founder & Partner, Blue Garnet
|Posted by HALO Award on October 17, 2017 at 3:50 PM|
At Cohort 6’s second peer convening in August, the Foundation invited Social Venture Partners (SVP) Los Angeles to lead a half-day Fast Pitch workshop for HALO Award grantees. SVP Los Angeles works with individual philanthropists to realize greater impact with their giving, strengthen nonprofits, and invest in collaborative solutions. Their Social Innovation Fast Pitch program trains nonprofit leaders to powerfully communicate their story, while connecting them with leaders in the business, philanthropic, and nonprofit communities.
Cohort 6 with SVP Volunteer Coaches
How does the Fast Pitch program build the capacity of and/or benefit nonprofits?
We work with a cohort of nonprofit leaders over two months, supporting them in developing a powerful 3-minute pitch to share who they are and how they connect to the work, why their organization is critical and impactful, and what they like to ask people to do in support of their great work. They work intensively with our coaches and receive written and verbal feedback from coaches and peers, as well as videos of their practice runs. It’s an incredible amount of feedback on something many of us do regularly – pitching our work – and yet rarely receive feedback on. The program culminates with an inspiring event where the nonprofits deliver their pitches to an audience of 600 philanthropists, nonprofits, and corporate leaders.
Beth Winton, Lake Avenue Community Foundation with a Volunteer Fast Pitch Coach
Why Fast Pitch? What is the secret to storytelling effectively and efficiently in 180 seconds?
Three minutes is a surprisingly long period of time – much longer than your typical elevator ride! Bring yourself into your storytelling! So often in nonprofit work, we tell ourselves it shouldn’t be about us, but we find that when leaders share what connects them deeply to their work, they’re far more likely to inspire people to action.
Rachel Black, Foothill Unity Center presenting her Fast Pitch
What/Who is the ideal candidate for the Fast Pitch program?
We focus on supporting emerging nonprofits and programs that have innovative solutions to pressing social problems, and we look for leaders who are eager to learn and grow.
Besides Fast Pitch, in what other ways can an individual or organization engage with SVP?
We are really excited to have just launched a nine-month Accelerator Program to support systems-change nonprofits in accelerating their growth and impact. We also now offer specialized Fast Pitch workshops for organizations that want to bring us in to work with their teams. And because we are built on an engaged philanthropy model, we always welcome new “Partners” to our community – individuals eager to contribute their time and money in supporting these incredible nonprofit organizations.
Alli Simon, Christine Margiotta, and Sharon Stratton, Social Venture Partners LA
For more information about Social Venture Partners, please visit socialventurepartners.org/los-angeles/
|Posted by HALO Award on August 29, 2017 at 3:55 PM|
Denise Yusuff, Volunteer Awardee
What do you do at Centinela Youth Services?
I am a volunteer mediator. I volunteer for the victim offender restitution program and the families able to resolve situations program.
When and why did you first get involved with Centinela Youth Services?
I became involved with Centinela Youth Services in 2014. I wanted to volunteer for an organization that improved the chances for our youth, enriched their lives and gave our youth an opportunity to overcome obstacles. I am very invested in making sure that our youth have the best opportunity to move beyond their current situation and have an enriched future.
What motivates you to stay involved at Centinela Youth Services?
I love seeing youth become empowered to take ownership of their actions and handle conflict in a positive manner. These are invaluable life skills that will put them on a path to success.
What is your favorite memory of volunteering with Centinela Youth Services?
My favorite memory was a tender moment between a family. The youth took complete ownership of her actions and acknowledged her parents’ actions were out of love and concern. The session was a complete breakthrough and very productive.
What has surprised you most about working with Centinela Youth Services? What do you wish other people knew about Centinela Youth Services?
The skills you learn to help others are life skills you can put to use in your daily life. Everyone is great to learn from. You just feel good being there. It's a win-win for everyone involved and the community at large.
What would you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with Centinela Youth Services?
Sign up! You won't regret it! The benefits to the community and for yourself are tremendous.
For more information about volunteering with Centinela Youth Services, please visit www.cys-la.org/mediators-con8
Tonie Neuwirth, Volunteer Awardee
What do you do at Lake Avenue Community Foundation (LACF)?
My title at LACF is Data Coordinator, where I process donations, prepare acknowledgements, select and correct mailing lists, and identify data for various reports about donations and donors (like who were the new donors for a recent summer campaign).
When and why did you first get involved with LACF?
In 2002 or 2003 LACF’s partner church, which shares offices with LACF, ran a capital campaign. Being newly retired, I was looking for an area of service and having a computer background, I volunteered for the campaign. There was a continued need at LACF, so I stayed on after the campaign.
What motivates you to stay involved at LACF?
It is hard to say what the motivation is totally, but it includes the ongoing need for what I do, the folks I work with (it is a “family”;), and being part of something bigger than myself. LACF is a small organization and we have had staff come and go. It has really been a privilege to provide a degree of constancy that enables the work in my area to continue and to support new staff where their need and my skills intersect. LACF has become a home away from home.
What is your favorite memory of volunteering with LACF?
It is hard to select a favorite memory. First, I would say that before important meetings or events we get together to pray, like when our Executive Director has an important lunch, meeting or tour of our programs. At one time, LACF included homeless outreach and I got to know some of our guests. Occasionally, some old friends stop by and it is always good to see them. Currently, all program areas work more closely together than before and there is more of a team feeling which is good. Just this last weekend some of us in the office got together for a potluck lunch and painting pictures with acrylic paints.
What has surprised you most about working with LACF? What do you wish other people knew about LACF?
The Lord keeps us humble at LACF. Finances are pretty lean at times and we have to belt tighten. It is no longer a surprise, but it was at the beginning. Our name currently includes the name of our church partner Lake Avenue Church. I would wish there was a way to clearly communicate we are a separate organization and we could use their direct support of our work.
What would you tell someone who is interested in volunteering with LACF?
There are many areas where people can serve, from administration to working in programs. If you want to be part of the tutoring program there are several areas you can serve other than tutoring, like helping with reading and enrichment programs. You can choose the age level you want to work with. You are not in this alone as there is training and support all along the way. If you want to be a mentor you will be matched with a student and have a mentor coach that will support you all along the way.
For more information about volunteering with Lake Avenue Community Foundation, please visit http://www.lakeavefoundation.org/vounteer/
|Posted by HALO Award on June 16, 2017 at 7:15 PM|
Last month the 2016 HALO Award awardees met as Cohort 6 for the first time for a peer convening at The California Endowment – Center for Healthy Communities. This was the first of four peer convenings that will take place during the HALO Award program year. At these peer learning sessions, HALO Award awardees focus on relationship building amongst the other cohort organizations, addressing specific volunteer program issues, participating in facilitated discussions by Blue Garnet, and hearing from guest speakers, including HALO Award program alumni. HALO Award peer convenings are thoughtful, strategic, and interactive for participants.
This being Cohort 6’s first peer convening, there was a strong focus on not only getting acquainted with the different organizations and their volunteer programs, but also on getting to know one another individually. The impact of the HALO Award does not end with a single grant and year of program support; the program design encourages awardees to become a family of nonprofits who have shared experiences in the program that they can lean on and be resources for long after the end of their award year.
In addition to relationship building, organizations had time to reflect on their volunteer programs, answering questions about program approach, challenges, and successes. This activity allowed for cross-organizational discussion that revealed themes of common challenges and approaches from all the organizations.
Participants were then guided through an exercise where they envisioned what volunteers experience when working with their organization. This activity challenged organizations to think about the volunteer experience from a new perspective, revealing areas that needed further exploration to improve the quality of their volunteers' journeys.
It was an exciting first peer convening, full of thoughtful conversation – we can’t wait for our next convening!