Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Last Day

Hi Everyone,

Today was my last day working on the Gulf Coast.  Though my last official day as Director was 16 May 08, Friday, there was really no way to not work on HOGC stuff until I actually leave the Coast.

So, I thank everyone for their support of Hands On Gulf Coast, our mission and the work we do.  I also thank everyone for their support during our years of transition, evolving as the needs of the Gulf Coast communities evolve.  It's not always been easy, but the constant evolution is necessary to continue to stay relevant to the recovery effort.

I thank my staff, AmeriCorps members, and long-term volunteers who really deserve the credit for making Hands On Gulf Coast what it is.  

Caitlin Brooking is now the Acting Director of Hands On Gulf Coast.   I know she'll do well in her role.  Please give her the support she needs as she takes over amidst a challenging time.

My experience in Biloxi, MS has been one of the most challenging and rewarding in my life.  It sounds cliche, but it is true.  Where else do you spend 18+hrs a day working and (usually) feel great about doing it?  We build homes and community for those ravaged by Katrina and ignored by many recovery systems and processes.  This work, helping others, is so critical, that the gravity of its impact helps buoy you over the rough seas and setbacks.

I am proud to have served the residents of the Gulf Coast.  I am proud that each of you felt the same compelling desire and need to help the Gulf Coast and chose to spend your time with us.  Please continue your support of the recovery efforts, in general, and Hands On Gulf Coast, in particular.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Independence Update

It's been about six weeks since our last update on Hands On Gulf Coast's transition from program of Points of Light & Hands On Network, to a local nonprofit governed by the community.

In the intervening six weeks, somethings move quickly, some things move slowly.  What's new?
  • We agreed that becoming an independence nonprofit is the best way to meet both the needs of the community and the needs of the national office.  As part of this process we explored the option of partnering with Volunteer Gulf Coast.  Both organizations want to promote and encourage the Gulf Coast communities to become more deeply engaged in community building efforts through volunteer projects, however both organizations agree that the rapid move to independence required of Hands On Gulf Coast does not allow sufficient time to thoroughly explore the range of partnership opportunities.  Because partnership and not duplicating services is critical, Hands On Gulf Coast's Advisory Board agreed that Hands On Gulf Coast should move ahead with independence from the national office, then circle back with Volunteer Gulf Coast and the United Way to hammer out the details of a solid, community changing partnership.
  • Recruited board members like Bob Fell - just now retiring from the City of Biloxi and going into business building homes - and Lee Gentry - Clinic Administrator for Coastal Family Health Care.
  • We developed, voted on, and adopted by-laws and articles of incorporation.
  • Began the process of establishing accounts and credit in the name of the organization Hands On Gulf Coast
Of course there is quite a bit more to do, such as establish a payroll service, obtain insurance, get to fundraising, but we're working on them bit by bit.  We're also working with the national office to reconcile financial records so that Hands On Gulf Coast starts out on solid financial footing.

Through all of this, Hands On must work through the transition of a number of key staff.  Sara Hamilton, Associate Director, left at the beginning of May.   Today is my last day of work as the Director, though there will be many days behind the scenes helping out.  At the beginning of June, Sue Cole, Operations Assistant, and Erica Winslow, Mold Educator, both leave and will be sorely missed.

So not only is the organization's status transitioning, so too is the staff.  Though there will be bumpy times and challenges ahead, you will see new organization and structure emerge.  It will be stronger and better able to focus on what's most important - the meeting the critical needs of the Gulf Coast Community through volunteer work.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

YouTube Channel

About two months ago, I established a channel for HOGC videos. Because we've been busy with volunteers and transition details, we haven't had much of an opportunity to post videos.

Last week, I prepared two slideshows for a presentation to a region meeting of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, yes the Internet people) registrars and registrees in New Orleans. Unfortunately, for all my tech savvy, I was foiled by a slow computer and was not able to show the photo collages of the Gulf after Katrina hit (courtesy Hands On USA volunteers and FEMA) and of Hands On Gulf Coast volunteers working.

You can see them here:

As well as on our YouTube channel.

More to come in the future.