Holidays and training

I'm not going to be in the office much over the next two weeks, so this is my post to explain why.
Obviously, just about everybody knows that Thursday is Turkey Day, so the Starfish Office is closed for 2.5 days. Since I've got a 300-mile drive to get home, I'm going to not be the office for 3 days. (Who wants to work for a few hours on Thanksgiving Eve, anyway?)

Then -- next week, I'll be in Chicago for AmeriCorps*VISTA training.

But wait -- aren't you done with being a VISTA? you ask.

Yes, yes I am. Apparently VISTA alums make good supervisors for new VISTAs so I'm going to Chi-town for a few days to learn how to supervise the new Starfish VISTA members.

Last year during VISTA training, I was with the rowdy orange-dot table. Something makes me think the supervisors will be more serious than that table was.

This is a quite a change, suddenly being a supervisor. Then again, it does make sense that alums make good supervisors since we have gone through all the VISTA stuff. (No direct service!) We've got a lot of stuff to get set up in the office as well for three new people.

It is pretty exciting to have new VISTAs starting, to continue the capacity-building the four of Starfish VISTAs did last year and the eight summer VISTAs helped with. Starfish has grown so much in the last 13 months and I can't wait to see it grow more.

More on the new VISTA and being a supervisor come Dec. 8.


Check Presentation

It's time to update the money total again.

This is still from what I did during my VISTA year. The new total raised as a VISTA is: $594,000. That's right folks, we were awarded a two-year grant for $50,000 each year. I'm counting it all at once for purposes of the money total.

Yesterday, we went to a small awards ceremony for this grant.

Here's the "official" event photo.


Tell it like it is

Given the time of year, I'm doing a number of grant reports to funders.

It's not enough to just get the money -- most funders want to know what you did with their money. Many foundations ask for reports, but some don't. I'm sending reports to funders who didn't ask for reports because I just think it's a good practice.

I think it's a particularly good practice when I hope to go back and ask these same funders for a new grant.

That's not to say all reports are rosy. I think it's good to explain what challenges were faced in reaching a projected outcome. If we missed a target, I'd rather explain why, or what it made it impossible instead of trying to rose-tint the picture.

Also on the writing front is polishing off the next issue of our donor newsletter and producing another scholar newsletter. Best get back to the looming deadlines...


Starfish receives award

Here is the press release I sent out this morning... it's strange being on this side of the reporting process....

Starfish Initiative wins “Charity of Ethics” award

Indianapolis, IN – Starfish Initiative was named the 2008 Charity of Ethics at the Central Indiana Better Business Bureau “Celebration of Ethics” Thursday.

Presented by the Central Indiana Better Business Bureau and sponsored by Riley, Bennett & Egloff, The Charity of Ethics award honors a charity that goes above and beyond in its service to the community. Starfish also received a $2,000 check from Riley, Bennett & Egloff.

Starfish provides mentoring services to promising students who qualify for Indiana’s Twenty-first Century Scholars Scholarship.

“At a time of economic uncertainty, those who support our organization want to be sure that their funds are being used wisely. We are honored to be recognized as an ethical organization and know that this award will ensure donors that Starfish is worthy of community support,” said Executive Director Joyce Johnson.

In the application for the award, Starfish explained a recent ethical dilemma the organization faced – whether or not to accept students who are illegal immigrants. After consulting with United Way, local high school and college administrators, the Board of Governors and Scholar Committee decided to make Starfish services available to immigrant students who fit the admission guidelines in every other way.

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 to instill in each student the desire to contribute to his or her community. Today, Starfish Initiative serves nearly 200 high school students in Marion County in more than 30 schools. Each student is matched with a volunteer, adult mentor.

For more information on Starfish Initiative and the Charity of Ethics award, please contact Director of Advancement Bethany K. Warner, 955-7918 or bethany@starfishinitiative.org




I hope I'm not counting this twice (this money might have been in the total from the breakfast), but best I can tell, my total is now $499,000.

I'm still counting this in what I raised during my VISTA year because it's related to the breakfast which happened then.


New Look

Since the blog has a bit of a new focus with life beyond VISTA, I decided it needed some sprucing up, so here is it with a facelift.


Two Weeks Now

I've had a real job for two weeks now.

Today, I got my first paycheck. I don't want this to come off as sounding materialistic, but WOW, is it nice to have a check that will let me buy more than rent and some groceries.

What's been more worth it is coming through this experience with a set of skills that let me have a job. Granted, I stayed here at Starfish and didn't have to go through a long job hunt, but even if I'd had to do that, I'm sure I have the skills in development now that would have helped that to happen.


Halloween, Starfish style

Starfish hosted our second annual "Trick or Treat so Others Can Eat" Halloween Party on Friday night. Let me just say, it was nice to attend an event that I had no part in planning.

The party was a big hit and it was the first time we threw a major event here at our facility. We used our parking lot and garage and one common room. Even though the building hasn't been remodeled yet, it still worked really well just to hold something here. (We're still waiting for final word, BTW, on the remodel project...)

As usual, I was the event photographer, so here's a glimpse of the party.
In case you can't tell, I was dressed up like someone from The Matrix.

VISTA Service Ticker