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February 2005

 

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last updated March 26, 2006

 

A Report on CapeCorps for February 2005
from Allen Larson, President, SustainCapeCod.org:

 

 

I promise that these will get shorter.

 

But there is a lot that has gone on this past month as CapeCorps has transitioned from a program of the United Way to one of the Cape Cod Center for Sustainability.

 

If you want to cut to the quick, the point is that we're off to a good start.  But we have a long way to go.

 

 

Our base of support

 

We've got a solid foundation to build on.  The Center is relying heavily on input from the CapeCorps Steering Committee that includes Ralph Nixon, Ed Mangiafico, Drew Quigley, Elizabeth Gawron, Rich Brothers, and Chris Wise, and adjunct member Barry Naegle.  It's obvious why we're relying heavily on their ideas, suggestions, and experience.

 

Rich Brothers and Elizabeth Gawron also are members of the board of  directors of the Center for Sustainability.  Others are also actively involved in this transition including Jeff Luce and David Willard of the executive committee as well as Glenn Ritt, who was the driving force behind the formation of CapeCorps at its inception.

 

January was also an active month for the planning committee for the Volunteer Expo (to be held in Hyannis on April 26).  Chip and Jane Bishop, Ken Borden, Terry Duenas, Jane Secci, Rick Gifford, Julie Brooks, Jennifer Kangas, Ruth Provost, and Glenn Ritt are building upon the success of last year.

 

Our staff -- Andria Ferrari-Ayer and our two Vista volunteers, Teri Torchia and Nora Lopes -- has  been active in the Bourne, Nauset, and Dennis-Yarmouth regional high schools.  This program alone is worth the effort we're putting into establishing a volunteer center on Cape Cod.

 

Andria has also worked with the group of people who are producing the Cape Cod Sampler CD of Cape musicians that is really going to be a wonderful product.  Carole Madru, Tony Raine, the reenergizing Dick Sullivan, Ralph Nixon, and the musicians themselves are putting together something that will benefit CapeCorps, the March of Dimes, the Red Cross, and the United Way.

And there are many others interested in finding ways to support the effort to establish a volunteer center to help sustain Cape Cod, people like  Teresa Martin and Pat Murphy of the Tech Council; Bob Dwyer of MindFrames, LLC;  Sharon Brown of Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston (OCB), which has offices in West Yarmouth and Sandwich; and Warren Rutherford.

 

And I'm sure I've overlooked someone. But I've not forgotten the members of the advisory committee of CapeCorps, the other directors of the Center for Sustainability, and the nonprofit organizations and interested volunteers to whom this effort is really directed.  The rest of this report is really intended to bring you up to date with what the many people I've mentioned have been putting together. 

 

 

Administration and operations

 

We've been working to find ways to replace the skills and experience of Margaret McLaughlin.  Margaret continues to stay in touch as she enters her next career phase in Washington, D.C.   I have asked Margaret to send me her suggested to-do list as we proceed.

 

We have defined the next phase of our growth as a three-month period that will conclude with the expo at the end of April.  In this transitional phase, Arleen Ellis has agreed to work as our interim executive director on a volunteer basis.  Arleen's background is very complementary with our mission to establish a volunteer center that relies on a technology framework or database to connect volunteers with nonprofit organizations.  Arleen worked for many years as the executive director of Computers for Seniors.  She also worked for the Girl Scouts organization, which relies heavily on its ability to recruit and effectively utilize volunteers.

 

In addition to Arleen, we are working closely with Teresa Martin, the executive director of the Tech Council, with whom we hope to soon share office space and gain some administrative efficiencies.  The key resource of the CapeCorps program's operation is the database system provided to us by the Points of Light Foundation.  We're hopeful that Teresa's input along with others who are professionals in that field will help us develop our capacity to utilize our system in a way that benefits the nonprofit organizations and individual volunteers we intend to serve.

 

And to that end, we have decided to recast CapeCorps' membership format. Starting immediately, our database system will be available to any Cape Cod-based nonprofit organization at no cost.  We will return membership fees already paid to date by the nonprofit organizations that have already committed to this year's Volunteer Expo.  This is a major decision, and its ramifications affect not only the operating projections of the expo but of CapeCorps as well.

 

The decision to forego a membership charge to a Cape-based nonprofit organization interested to utilize the CapeCorps database is made possible because the Cape Cod Center for Sustainability has agreed to underwrite the costs this year that otherwise would have been covered by charging nonprofit organizations a membership fee.  As I set forth in December in a piece that ran in the Cape Cod Times and some other community newspapers, volunteering is the best indicator of a community's quality of life.  Its importance is the underlying reason why the Cape Cod Center for Sustainability agreed to take on the responsibility from the United Way to run the CapeCorps program.  

 

 

Development

 

We'll need to find ways to generate revenues.  The expo and the Cape Cod Sampler CD are two projects that will generate more funds than they cost.  But the revenues they generate will not be sufficient, and we will be working actively to develop other sources of funding realized either by generating it ourselves or by obtaining funding support from other sources.  We will not compete for grant money from sources that would otherwise be available to Cape nonprofit organizations.  We will develop allegiances with individual donors of sums both large and small.  We will also seek to obtain the services and resources we need from business sources. 

 

 

Information technology

 

The value of what we offer to volunteers and nonprofit organizations is a direct function of our technology base.  We are working with the Cape Cod Times, proprietors of the "Village Green," to find ways to more effectively integrate our database and our  Web site with their print and Internet resources.  We have engaged in some early discussions with the Tech Council as well as technology service businesses and consultants that will lead to a plan of action and cost projections that we will build into our budget.  We are of the view that this is the one area in which we cannot rely on volunteer support to operate dependably.  We will need to raise the funds necessary to accurately maintain our database.  We also will need to develop a strategy that maximizes the value of this information to the volunteers and nonprofit organizations we serve.

 

 

Outreach

 

The success of CapeCorps will be defined by the extent to which it links volunteers and nonprofits.  And in this transition stage, our success will depend on our ability to retain the interest of nonprofit organizations and our community overall.  We need to demonstrate that our commitment to establish a volunteer center is a permanent one.  We need to convince a somewhat cautious public that volunteering is essential to sustaining Cape Cod.  The first step in this sequence will occur on February 17 when we meet with the advisory committee to present this outline in a discussion format.  Another important step in this sequence will occur on April 26 when we bring together both volunteers and nonprofit organizations at the expo.  And in between and after, reaching out to local residents, businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations will continue and succeed to the extent that we are able to encourage members of our advisory committee, our board of directors, and others to act as our ambassadors.

 

 

Special events

 

Each of these areas incorporates special events and activities like the expo and the Sampler CD within their scope of work.  In a sense then, these first four categories of activity comprise standing committees that are permanent and ongoing in their activity.  Special events committees will form for a one-time purpose or re-form on a recurring basis to produce programs like the Volunteer Expo that we intend to host every year.

 

 

Conclusion

 

This report just touches on the thinking that has taken place in each of these contexts over the past month.  The energy level is high.  The commitment is firm.  And there's a long way to go to be sure.  I started by mentioning the many people whose effort will make the volunteer center a success.  Their input is the clearest indication that we are on a course that will lead to real benefit and contribution to the region in which we live.

 

As these remarks raise questions or concerns in your mind, please let me know what they are; and I will be sure to answer you in depth and with as many facts and perspectives as I can bring to the question.  We need you to make this effort worthwhile.  Thank you for whatever input you can provide. --Allen Larson

 


 

GOOD NEWS:  CapeCorps Meets the National Standards for Volunteer Centers