In the last 5 days, I have been the recipient of two amazing honors. The first was to be honored as a 2014 National Geographic Traveler of the Year. The second was to be honored by The News & Observer as “The Tar Heel of the Week”. For those of us who live in North Carolina, being named “Tar Heel of the Week” is a really big deal.
This blog is to announce the MAV Award (Most Amazing Volunteers), which is a new award created and presented by me.
Plain and simple, there would be no Pack for a Purpose without the amazing, incredibly talented, and caring volunteers who created and now maintain Pack for a Purpose! The total time they have committed to Pack for a Purpose over the last five years has been over 16,300 hours.
Yes, I had an idea. However, lots of people have ideas that never come to fruition. Mine became a reality because I make awesome chocolate mint chip cookies (from scratch) and because I was a “Lego” in a previous life. My skills are baking and connecting. Because we started Pack for a Purpose with no funding, we needed to rely on volunteers. I chose my homemade cookies (not the kind of cookies you find on websites) as a way to reward their generosity. My cookies (made on demand and served hot from the oven) became the “coin of the realm”.
I believe whenever you need help, you always start with friends. They are the people who will be there when you need them. Fortunately for me, I have amazing friends with skill sets and talents beyond my wildest dreams.
Before you can have a website, you have to have a web designer and a web master. Our web designer, Erik, and web master, Justin, have been instrumental in insuring that the Pack for a Purpose website is engaging and maintained to the highest professional standards. They do all of this work as volunteers while in their real life they are the team behind Prolifix Design.
The Pack for a Purpose board is comprised of dear friends who have all the skills that are needed to set up and sustain a non-profit. Our volunteer Board members are our Treasurer Kristen who is an accountant, Cindy our attorney, Scott, our secretary, (Scott is my husband- who made the mistake of leaving the room while we were assigning jobs). The two Board members at large are Jan (the god-mother of Pack for a Purpose who works on our video production among other things), and Keith, our really “at large” board member, as he resides in Washington, D.C.. Keith has many years experience working with international non-profits (NGOs) and like the rest of the board, brings great expertise to the mix.
Social Media is critical to spreading the word about any non-profit. Our second intern, Brittany has continued to volunteer for the last 3 years after her college graduation. Brittany is our “Pinterest Princess” and also is responsible for our Instagram postings. The inspiration to include Instagram came from Andrew, who interned with us from North Carolina State University during the spring 2014 semester. Our “Twitter Mister” Adam assumed this job in August and we hope he will keep tweeting to “infinity and beyond.”
Then there is the unglamorous but critical need to maintain accurate data. This involves contact information for over 450 (and growing) participants on our website, tracking supplies received every trimester throughout the year, recording the number of people who benefit from the projects on our website and keeping track of volunteer hours monthly. This is a “2G” network. Giavanna and Gina generate the reports we need and make sure all the data we track is entered properly and saved. They also generate the supply requests we send out every trimester.
Bob and Lindhani are two guys who are part of our “Behind the Scenes” volunteers. They both work to make sure all the outbound and inbound links to and from our website are working. Bob designed a custom program to specifically scan inbound links. This greatly reduced the number of links that Sara (who volunteers from Philadelphia) needs to manually check each month.
I have been incredibly fortunate to connect with professionals all over the world such as Sue in New Zealand and Monica in Ecuador who have been willing to learn about Pack for a Purpose and brainstorm and develop ideas which have advanced and improved our website.
While all the volunteers and interns are not individually mentioned in this blog, they all have enhanced our non-profit with their valuable skills and insights. Our local colleges and universities continue to be a source of outstanding young talent. They provide the additional hours we need every week to maintain our website and expand our reach.
For those of you who enjoy details, below are the links to PfaP Portraits.
I created The MAV Award to formally recognize the incredible contributions made by the extraordinary volunteers of Pack for a Purpose! Everyone of them is a winner!