June 19, 2018
TO: CDC Advisory Board Members & Working Group Members
FROM: Margot Kelley (Advisory Board Chair)
RE: Much Gratitude and a Few Policy and Best Practices Updates
The St. George Community Development Corporation is an organization for the people, by the people. Nearly all as volunteers, we work together to make our community stronger and more resilient. We’re coming up on our first anniversary (AMAZING!), and I wanted to take this opportunity to say a whole-hearted thank you to all of you and to reflect on what we’ve learned about working on so many different kinds of projects, with so many different people involved.
We’ve learned that we needed some internal structure. To that end, the CDC is being overseen by a small Board of Directors, currently Don Carpenter, Rob Kelley, and Linda Small. I serve as an ex-officio member to link the Advisory Board and the Board. Day-to-day operations are run by Alane Kennedy.
We also learned that we have more good ideas than we have time and money. Alane keeps a list of everything we’ve all told her “would be a really good thing for the CDC to do.” Thanks to the enthusiasm and efforts of all of you, the CDC has been able to try a LOT of things this year, has learned a lot, and is going to continue to pursue the things that worked and let go of (or tweak) the ones that weren’t so successful.
The Board created guidelines for what projects it needs to vote on and what projects we can just run with. When we on the Advisory Board have ideas for projects, they are evaluated either by Alane or by the Board. For many projects, we need only Alane’s approval. For others, we need to bring proposals to the whole board. For projects that require limited resources (less than $250) and limited time commitments (for example the ACA selection help sessions), Advisory Board members or working groups can simply go to Alane and ask if she can facilitate the event. Successful events that are intended to become annual events—like the Thanksgiving Dinner—don’t need to get re-approved each year.
For medium and large projects—those involving more substantial time and/or money—approval must come from the Board. Such projects will likely emerge from the various efforts of the working groups. A good example is the “Got Internet?” project, which was undertaken by the Broadband working group. Alane has a rubric that folks interested in doing this kind of project fill out, and can help the group develop a pro forma budget, and those go to the Board for their vote. Crucially, these projects are run not by Alane, but by the group, who reports back to Alane on how their efforts are going. Therefore, these projects need a dedicated point person and a larger level of energy and commitment to make them happen.
As volunteers working in our community in new ways, we have discovered some of the edges of what we can and cannot (or just should not) do. We’ve over-stepped a few times, and the selectmen or town manager have let us know. Those moments have helped us better figure out how we fit into the community. For me, a key example of that has been learning how to speak about the CDC without slipping into speaking for the CDC. Since I sit in on the Board Meetings and have been involved from the outset, I feel pretty in-the-know. But only the Board and Alane can make commitments for the CDC.
And we keep learning about the importance of safety and discretion. As we go along, I’d like for us, as an Advisory Board, to think through how to ensure that we and others in our community are as safe as possible when engaged in a CDC activity. I suspect that over time, we will decide that we need to institute safety guidelines for volunteers. Luckily, so far common sense seems to be working! We also want to make sure that we honor people’s privacy. While we are not obliged to be HIPPA compliant, if we try to exercise that level of discretion, we will keep our neighbors’ confidences and their confidence in us.
The other thing that I, personally, learned is the incredible breadth of talents, skills, passions, and energy that so many have been eager to contribute to good causes. I knew from my time on the School Board that St. George has a very generous population, but time and again, I’ve been inspired by people stepping in, helping out, and being kind behind the scenes.
Thank you, and here’s to Year Two!