Read more about the ways our volunteers have leveraged their skills to make an impact and about a few of the organizations that have benefitted.
Urban Initiatives works in the Chicago community to actively engage children from underserved communities in extracurricular activities in a safe and structured environment. Like so many nonprofits, Urban Initiatives began with a small staff, and all of their employees wear many hats within the organization. Throughout the years, numerous WomenOnCall volunteers have helped Urban Initiatives meet organizational goals that may not have been met otherwise.
In particular, Jessica Rio, a manager with the Chicago Transit Authority at the time and a professional experienced in various positions in local government, helped significantly with the organization’s grant-writing processes. With an extensive writing background, Jessica was able to offer an outsider’s perspective as well as effective ways to make the grant narrative more compelling.
Jessica began by editing one grant and suggesting language that could be incorporated into all future grant proposals. Urban Initiatives secured the grant and then approached Jessica to see if she might be interested in editing future grant proposals. She agreed and went on to review numerous grants before they were submitted. Her recommendations helped the organization have its most successful year of fundraising despite the down economy.
To learn more about Urban Initiatives, visit www.urbaninitiatives.org.
Mutual Housing California
Mutual Housing California provides affordable housing for low-income households and supports its 2,700 residents with educational and leadership resources. When faced with critical graphic design needs, Executive Director and CEO, Rachel Iskow, turned to WomenOnCall.
Mutual Housing California sought a WomenOnCall volunteer to assist in developing a brochure to increase awareness of available space in the organization’s offices and community centers. Claire Tomm, a WomenOnCall volunteer and graphic designer from Wisconsin, accepted the opportunity and began to work on the project virtually. Though miles away, she was able to gather all of the needed information via phone and email to create a powerful marketing piece.
Claire said virtual volunteering was a good option for her because of her busy schedule. While she created effective and top-notch materials for Mutual Housing California, the organization said it took more creativity to show appreciation for a virtual volunteer. “You can’t hand her a thank you certificate at an event if she lives in another state,” Rachel said. “We are so grateful for her fine work and dedication!”
To learn more about Mutual Housing California, visit www.mutualhousing.com.
Willow House, a nonprofit located in the Chicago suburbs, provides support to grieving children and families through discussion groups, workshops and community outreach. In the span of a year, Willow House engaged three WomenOnCall volunteers to assist on a variety of both in-person and virtual volunteer projects.
While searching for grant-writing assistance, Willow House met volunteer Catherine Siebel at the Chicago Meet & Match. Catherine, a program evaluation consultant, applied her professional skills to help the organization identify key metrics to articulate its impact.
Nancy Rose, an IT specialist and another WomenOnCall volunteer, connected with Willow House directly through the WomenOnCall website. She had worked with the organization previously as a volunteer facilitator for the Willow House Children’s Grief Group. When Rose saw the project on WomenOnCall, she jumped at the opportunity to use her skills for an organization with which she was already familiar. Rose helped coordinate an online pledging program for Willow House's annual run/walk which resulted in an increase in fundraising dollars compared to previous years.
And Mellonee Mayo, a graphic designer from Atlanta, leveraged her skills to create an auction book for the Willow House Annual Benefit. By communicating regularly with Willow House via phone/email, Mellonee was able to finalize the auction list and identify any last-minute items. She designed a polished and elegant book that helped the organization meet its fundraising goals.
To learn more about Willow House, visit www.willowhouse.org.
Street-Level Youth Media
Street-Level Youth Media works to educate Chicago’s underserved youth in the media arts and emerging technologies for use in self-expression, communication and social change. In 2008, the organization experienced extensive fire damage to its center. Though they located a temporary office, the organization was in dire need of a new permanent space.
The organization created a space committee to identify and establish a new home for the nonprofit. Street-Level Youth Media also recruited WomenOnCall volunteer Sonya Hene to assist the committee. With over 20 years of real estate acquisition and development experience, Sonya offered the committee insight and guidance as the organization worked with a broker to identify potential firms, interviewed architectural firms, refined the project timeline and budget and eventually negotiated a contract for the new facility. Her input helped the organization to secure a space that met its needs and could grow into a thriving location that would assist a larger number of youth from the local area.
To learn more about Street-Level Youth Media, visit www.street-level.org.
Options for Youth
When Options for Youth was seeking PR advice from a volunteer, a skill that none of the organization's small staff had, they turned to WomenOnCall. They were looking for expert advice on how to increase awareness of the relatively unknown organization’s work within the Chicago community.
Via WomenOnCall’s matching tool, Pat Mosena, president of Options for Youth, connected with WomenOnCall volunteer Angie Kolbusz. With a background in advertising and marketing, Angie was intrigued by the project and eager to learn more. She met with Pat and the Options for Youth staff and quickly came up with effective ways to help market the organization.
Angie leveraged her media contacts to secure a television interview with the Fox affiliate in Chicago. The interview offered the organization the opportunity to share its mission with the greater Chicago community.
Since then, Angie has continued to work with Options for Youth and lead portions of the organization's new communications plan. A mother of two boys (ages two and six), Angie says volunteering with WomenOnCall has helped hone her professional skills while she cares for her children full-time.
“Volunteering is a way to keep my skills up-to-date while giving back to the Chicago community,” she said. And the greatest benefit for her is seeing how her knowledge and expertise can make a profound difference for Options for Youth!
To learn more about Options for Youth, visit www.optionsforyouth.org.
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