I have a soft spot for Volunteers with Tom Hanks and John Candy because it's one of the rare movies about the Peace Corps and where Tom Hanks doesn’t portray the “good guy.” Instead, Hanks plays Lawrence Bourne III, a wealthy playboy with a gambling problem who accidentally joins the Peace Corps while escaping his bookie. Candy plays Tom Tuttle, a do-gooder volunteer who also lives in the village where Bourne is assigned. At one point, Bourne explains his lackadaisical attitude towards making a difference in one short line, "It's not that I can't help these people. It's just I don't want to."
I spend many evenings a month with different voluntary organizations in my neighborhood. I enjoy meeting my neighbors and learning about what they care about, but I often wonder why it’s the same dozen or so people. Most of my neighbors want positive change in the community and believe it's important to be part of the democratic process, so why don't they show up? Can a nonprofit somehow figure out who is likely to volunteer and who isn't? What makes someone stop being a Bourne and start being a Tuttle?
You hear the word a lot. Coalition of the Willing. Christian Coalition. Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Coalition Against Gun Violence. Two hundred million hits for the word on Google. Why are there so many? What are the benefits? Disadvantages? How do you decide whether to join?
Coalitions are a group of like-minded people aligning themselves long-term to meet common goals. Nonprofits form coalitions to provide services, to educate, or to advocate. Before jumping into a relationship with another organization, you should think through the implications to ensure you are maximizing the benefits to your stakeholders.
Originally published on the Global Communities website.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley (BGCMV) has been an integral part of the Floreciente community since it opened its first club in the neighborhood in 1994. Their presence has since expanded to include a Teen Center as well as administrative offices for the entire Quad Cities area. Whereas the BGCMV is highly regarded among community members for their youth programming, their Administration Building – located in the center of the neighborhood – needed to be repaved to deter people from leaving their cars unattended on the lot.
Several additional buildings, public infrastructure, and other services in Floreciente also needed improvements to make them more welcoming to residents. Neighbors, business owners, and representatives from local organizations that work in the Floreciente neighborhood began to meet monthly to identify and prioritize community needs. They also worked to identify projects that would increase community pride and participation and civic activities in Floreciente early on to draw more neighbors to their cause. Popular suggestions included undertaking beautification projects, planting flowers, addressing transportation issues, creating play areas, and celebrating together.
Includes professional topics, as well as thoughts about Chicago politics. I also keep a blog on Medium that includes these, as well as more personal posts.