Resistance is futile

I'm feeling a bit Borg-like today. (In case you don't know the reference, the Borg are good old aliens from Star Trek that have technology grafted into their bodies.)

Our office administrator is on a well-deserved vacation this week and so everybody is the office is getting a turn for a day with her phone headset.
Today is my day.
Answering phones is not a job that's routinely something VISTAs do because it's too much direct service and not capacity building, but when everybody has to take a turn, it's OK.
The only problem (and OK, I'm whining here) is that the headset isn't comfortable. It sort of pinches. And pokes. And after a few hours I want to take it off.
Oh well. It's just for a day.


Conference Coma

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I traded in my blue-painted, windowless office at Starfish for a number of windowless hotel conference rooms during the 2008 Governor's Conference on Service and Volunteerism.

After two days of sitting in workshops, I'm still sort of in conference coma. I think hotels must pump something into the air or use special light bulbs or some other nefarious means (like in the pitchers of water always on the tables) by which to keep people at a conference placated and docilely moving from one workshop to the next without a major revolt. Maybe like general anaesthesia it has some lingering effects...

Anyway, today I'm back in the blue office, trying to get projects done and figure out what it was exactly that I learned at this conference.

The high point of the conference was one session on program development. I'm not a program development person, per se, but in the grant writing, I write program descriptions all the time. I also write goals, outcomes and objectives and now, finally, thanks to this workshop, I understand the difference between the three.

I put my new-learned definitions on the dry erase board in the blue office this morning, just to help myself remember them and to have them easily visible when I'm writing grants.

Aside from that, I went to 7 other workshops, many of which were outright duds and some of which were only somewhat helpful. I think other people in my office had much better success in the workshops they picked, so I guess the conference wasn't too bad as a whole.

Also, there were tons of VISTAs there, including folks I hadn't seen since PSO in Chicago in November. It was very fun to catch-up with them and hear how their projects were going.

Now, it's nose to the grindstone to get a newsletter and a postcard out pronto.


I really shouldn't complain...

But we have no heat again.

Last time, it turned out the furnace wasn't connected to the gas line so it wasn't possible for it to run. Such cannot be the problem a second time.

We have the HVAC guy coming some time this afternoon. Meanwhile, I can't attest to the quality of the newsletter I'm producing when I can't feel my fingers! (The solution here could be to just go home and run up and down five flights of stairs in my apartment building where the elevator is also on the fritz. I'm sure I could warm up doing that...)

Not having heat for a morning is really pretty insignificant compared to the situations of those living in poverty. We have shelter from the incessant rain outside. Even with no heat, the thermostat still says it's 64ish (though falling) in here. We have lights, clothes, water, food. Ditto about my apartment; the elevator may not work, but really, the five flights of stairs aren't bad for me, just inconvenient.

So while I'm cold, I guess I have a lot to still be grateful for.


In the swing

So back from vacation and I felt like I have to get back into the swing of things.

Yesterday was the first day back and I felt like I bounced back and forth between a number of projects, including starting into a new grant proposal.

The grants count yesterday changed to 5-4, as we got another rejection. They say you're supposed to call the funder who rejected you and ask them why you were turned down. I did just that and came back with no helpful information.

But yesterday I also had an application waiting for me on my desk from a foundation I sent an LOI (Letter of Inquiry) to in early February. This has launched me into a new grant proposal that involves research and a whole full proposal that's mostly all new information. It's sort of exciting because it involves writing new material instead of cutting and pasting together parts of previous applications.

And planning for the fall fundraising breakfast is moving forward. We're close to officially having a location for this. I announced it internally yesterday but embargoed that information, so I had best play by my own rules and wait until the appropriate time to release it.


Another Hat and Breaking Up is Hard to Do

The class in college I took on publication design is useful again as I was involved in a redesign of the newsletter we send monthly to Starfish Scholars.

After getting the newsletter in the mail yesterday, I spent some time today turning the publication into a template so the April edition will go much more smoothly when it comes time for layout. In college, I used to do design work weekly to get our campus paper to print. Granted, then I was using QuarkXPress and here I'm using Microsoft Publisher, but the basic principles of design are still the same. So are techniques like setting up style sheets so that all the headlines and body text in subsequent issues look the same.

What I can't figure out to do here is how to post a screen shot of the newsletter. Trust me that it looks snazzy.

In wearing my other hat of event planner for our fall fundraising breakfast, I am getting closer to having a location nailed down. It's down to the top two. This morning, I called up the most expensive location (which was holding the room for us) and told them they were too expensive for our budget.

Hanging up the phone after leaving this voicemail message, I turned to my VISTA office mate and said, "I feel like I was breaking up with them."

I think it'll feel worse when telling the runner-up because our top two contenders are both working hard to come up with a plan that fits our needs. I know it's just business and it's not personal for the event planners at the venues either, but still. Breaking up is hard to do.

Oh and I'm setting aside the VISTA hat for a few days of vacation until next Tuesday. Look for posts to resume some time next week.

VISTA Service Ticker