Tuesday, April 29, 2008


It is difficult for me to make this posting. I have decided to step down as Director and leave Hands On Gulf Coast, effective May 16, 2008.

I started with Hands On USA, arriving just days before they handed over the operation to Hands On Gulf Coast. I was there at the transition when Dave Campbell said, “Do you want a job? I just set you up for an interview in 20 minutes.” From day one with Hands On Gulf Coast, I have helped manage the organization, taking over as Director in January 2007.

Still, I came down like everyone else, a volunteer. Hurricane Katrina directly impacted my family – my grandmother and one of my uncles lost their homes in the New Orleans region. I knew I would be down. I thought it was just for three weeks.

Many of you have never met me because I prefer to work quietly behind the scenes. I enjoy the world of spreadsheets, budgets, computers, and yes, people. I worked with a great team of people to make your experience at Hands On Gulf Coast as rewarding as possible.

The opportunity that I was given to help manage, then lead Hands On has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.

I also have to announce that another pillar of Hands On Gulf Coast will leave on May 2. Sara Hamilton, now the Associate Director, came from Chicago Cares, the Hands On Network affiliate in, you guessed it, Chicago. She arrived in June 2006, after a week-long volunteer experience in April 2006.

She came back and immediately jumped in to manage our volunteer programs. After six months, the massive AmeriCorps program was handed to her with the simple directive “make it happen”. She developed, implemented, and managed one of the most effective AmeriCorps programs in Mississippi. Did I mention that she had no prior AmeriCorps experience and she had six weeks to recruit and enroll the first round of members?

Yes, Sara has been one of the other quiet presences at Hands On Gulf Coast that has kept the organization moving ahead despite transition and tumult.

Caitlin Brooking, currently the AmeriCorps Program Manager, will step into the role of Acting Director after I leave. She will hold that post until we hire an Interim Executive Director.

To ensure the delivery of quality volunteer service, we will be hiring an AmeriCorps Program Coordinator and additional administrative support, in addition to the Development Specialist who will focus on fund raising for us.

It is only appropriate that as Hands On Gulf Coast the organization transitions, so to does the leadership. It’s the next step in the evolution of what started as an idea in Thailand after the tsunami.

Thank you to each of you for your support of Hands On, the Gulf Coast, and this leadership team. The Gulf Coast and Hands On will continue to need your support in the months and years to come.

Chris de Veer

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