Starfish phone home

For weeks now, my cell phone hasn't been able to call into the desk phones here at the office. This started a long time ago after we switched over our phone service provider for Starfish.

It was a weird problem ... some of us with certain cell phone companies could not call into any of the work numbers. After a lot of test calls, calls to our old provider, our new provider and our cell phone companies, it seems to have been resolved. YAY!

Of course, this just means I have the ability to leave myself messages when I'm not at work....

After the Roof Stunt

With the roof stunt over, things are getting back to normal here at Starfish HQ -- though what "normal" is will change again.

We've got about a week and a half left with our awesome summer VISTAs before they head back to college this fall. They have been amazing and gotten so much great capacity-building work done.

Also, in about a month, we'll start having regular homework club again meaning we'll have Scholars here on weeknights which can be fun.

I'm back to proposal writing -- turned in one yesterday and working on another preliminary proposal that needs to go out by the end of this week. Also I'm busy with the planning for our fall fundraising breakfast. Things need to be in motion for that now to make sure we have a good event later.

Also, I'm doing some revisions to the capital grant to help that process. It's not dead, just tabled and I still have high hopes for this office not being blue for my entire year of service.


Raising the Roof on Graduation Rates -- Bob Returns to Earth

Bob has safely returned to the ground floor after 48 hours on the roof. This morning, we had a small celebration to welcome him back.

This included presenting him with the "smiling Starfish" traveling trophy -- an internal prize for staff or VISTAs who go above and beyond their job description -- and a photo collage of images from his time on the roof.

Keep reading for more photos and the final tally of mentors who have made verbal commitments to Starfish by the end of the event.
This is Bob and the WTLC booth that came yesterday afternoon for a live remote broadcast over the lunch hour.
Friday morning... notice the change in the weather with the overcast sky... the cherry picker from the tree service truck came back to bring Bob back down from the roof.

And the final tally of people who called in and made verbal commitments to be mentors during the 48 hour stunt is......


We are completely blown-away by this response from the community and the amount of media coverage we received during the past two days. All of us are a bit bleary-eyed this morning from two days of crazy work hours, but it was worth it.

And the brainstorming for next summer's event has already begun... the leading idea? Survivor: Starfish Roof.


Raising the Roof on Graduation Rates -- Above the fold

So it's bigger news if it runs with a photo above the photo in a print newspaper.

The story is technically what would likely be known as the "secondary centerpiece," but half of Bob's head is above the fold of today's Metro+State section of the Indy Star.

Here's the link to the whole article.

Right now, we've got WTLC out in the parking lot with a booth, prizes and a live broadcast. Other staff has the camera, but more photos to come later.

Raising the Roof on Graduation Rates -- The VISTA photos

Bob is still on the roof.

Yesterday afternoon, I got busy and never had a chance to post these photos. These are mostly the summer VISTA crew (along with yours truly occasionally). Without their help, this event would not be going as well as it has been. They've also just been very cool and helpful all summer long.

The count for potential mentors is hovering around 30 right now, give or take a few.
Today at the lunch hour, we've got WTLC coming to do a live remote broadcast. Expect more photos later...


Raising the Roof on Gradution Rates -- Life on the Roof

Bob has now been on the roof for not quite 5 hours.

So far, the camera has been passing from staff to staff, so I can't claim that all these photos are mine, but here are some further glimpses of life on the roof for Bob.

Up with him on the roof, Bob's got his laptop, a table and chair, his cell phone, a very long extension cord to plug his stuff through the window upstairs, a tent, sleeping bag, umbrella, pillow, cooler, and, um, bucket. I don't think I need to elaborate on what that's for.

We've gotten a number of calls from people who have stopped by on the street or saw him live on TV this morning. The current count for potential mentors is ..... drumroll please.... 30!

48 in 48 should be no sweat!

Raising the Roof on Graduation Rates -- Bob Ascends

Yes, mentoring fans, Starfish Initiative Mentor Services Director Bob Goodrum is on the roof of Starfish Initiative.

He's been up there for about 105 minutes so far, and his feet won't touch the ground for another 46.25 hours-ish.

This morning, we had Fox 59 news here doing a live shot from the roof (another segment will run on the 10 p.m. news tonight). Also, the Indianapolis Star sent over a photographer and we're expecting a reporter to come by at some point. Mitch Daniels' campaign RV was here as well (don't worry... no VISTAs were involved in any sort of campaigning activity and we've invited his challenger, Jill Long Thompson to stop by sometime too...).

We had a pretty good crowd of mentors and guests and staff this morning to cheer Bob on as he went up to the roof. The original plan had been that Bob would just climb a ladder... but his ladder was too short so he called a tree business who brought over their truck with a cherry picker and Bob rode up to the roof.

And then watched his "ride" move away.

Now that Bob's on the roof, he's taking phone calls from potential mentors and calling folks who expressed interest in the past.

More photos to come later, along with updates on the recruitment count.


Raising the Roof on Graduation Rates

Here's what we're up to at Starfish right now...

This is the actual press release we've been sending out. Want more details? Drop me a line in the comments. Or call Bob (his contact info at the bottom) to learn about mentoring.

Local Mentoring Organization to “Raise the Roof” on graduation rates
Staff to live on roof for 48 hours to bring awareness and recruit volunteers

Indianapolis, IN – Starfish Initiative Mentor Services Director Bob Goodrum will live on the Starfish Initiative roof for 48 hours to “raise the roof on graduation rates” in Indianapolis. At 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 23, Goodrum will ascend to the roof where he will stay until 9 a.m., Friday, July 25. While on the roof, Goodrum will be recruiting volunteer mentors and drawing attention to the need to improve graduation rates in the Indianapolis area. His goal is to recruit 48 new mentors in 48 hours.

Starfish Initiative’s mission is to cultivate promising, economically-disadvantaged, high school students into college-educated leaders by providing them with individual mentors, leadership training, and community service opportunities. In so doing, it is their aim to instill in each student the desire to positively contribute to his or her community. Today, Starfish Initiative serves nearly 100 high school students in Marion County in more than 20 schools. Each student is matched with a volunteer, adult mentor who serves as his or her “college coach.” Starfish Initiative is adding 100 new students to its program before the start of the 2008-09 school year.

To provide services for 100 new students in the upcoming academic year, Starfish Initiative also needs 100 new mentors. Forty-eight new mentors in 48 hours is the idea of the “Raising the Roof on Graduation Rates” campaign.

“The possibility of a Scholar going to college becomes a real probability when an adult invests five hours a month in them,” Goodrum said.

Studies show that students who have support from adults are more likely to succeed in their academic work and less likely to drop out of school.

To learn more about becoming a Starfish Initiative mentor and the “roof-in” event, contact Mentor Services Director, Bob Goodrum at (317) 955-7912 or bob@starfishinitiative.org. www.starfishinitiative.org



About three months of service left...
Currently, the work load has me overwhelmed. Too many projects, too many things going wrong at the moment. It's all very frustrating and VISTA doesn't pay enough for this much stress.


Still Alive...

I realized it's been more than a week since I wrote anything here.

With the holiday weekend and the subsequent digging out/catching up from that, I've been very busy here in the blue office.

But time for some updates on a few things and what's occupying my time and head-space.

1. The major capital grant. We didn't get a "yes" or a "no" -- rather the committee tabled our request until we can come back with some more information in August. Round two of meetings for this is beginning next week as we meet with some other vendors and get some new quotes on furniture and construction pricing.

2. Being a United Way agency.
Yesterday we attended our first ever United Way agency fair for a campaign through the local office of a major company. We learned a lot through this first one and talking to other agencies also there. This is an exciting way to get our story out into the community.
Also, in two weeks, I've got training to learn how to be a United Way Torchbearer. This basically means that I will be giving short speeches at United Way campaign events, talking about Starfish and how being a United Way agency helps us. And it gets me out of the blue office... I hope they schedule me a lot. One of my goals for 2008 was to help coordinate our first year as a United Way agency and I'm doing a lot of scheduling right now to make this all happen.

3. "Raising the Roof on graduation rates: 48 mentors in 48 hours"
More info coming on this soon, but we're planning a crazy event here at Starfish to recruit more mentors. It involves our mentor services director, our roof and lots of PR.

4. 3.5 months of service left. YIPES. This year has flown by. Yesterday at the United Way fair, there were several other VISTAs and/or VISTA alums. It's fun to meet them and talk about doing service.

5. Grants, grants, grants. The deadlines don't stop coming and next week, I'm taking two days to do a proposal writing workshop put on by the Fundraising School. Obviously, I've been having some success at this writing thing, but I'm convinced I can always learn more things to make my proposals even better.

6. Dictionary Drive. Have $20? For that, you can buy a dictionary and thesaurus set for Starfish scholar who otherwise doesn't have reference books to help them with their school work. Maybe it's just the writer in me coming through, but I love this campaign and can't wait to get these letters in the mail to donors. I know I don't make much as a VISTA, but I am giving serious thought to donating a set because it means that much to me.

As you can see, there's a lot going on. I will try to update more on some of these initiatives/campaigns as I can.


Why I'm a writer

1. Because I like words.
2. Because I don't like math

This is why I can't get the numbers in the grant application budget I'm working on to add up right now. They add up on one form, but not the other. The SAME numbers. I don't know what I'm doing wrong.

UPDATE -- July 3, 10:38 a.m.
The budget now balances.
The problem? I was trying to make $5,000 + $6,000 = $13,000, when in reality, it equals $11,000. Hence, the missing $2,000.
Now, it all adds up.

VISTA Service Ticker