It took only one person — the very first she talked to at Tuesday’s “Connect Henderson speed dating for non-profits” — for the new event to be totally worthwhile for Monica Fella of Healing Reins.
She said the longer she talked to the man who stopped by her table, the more the conversation revealed that the veteran would be a perfect new volunteer.
He was already interested in the focus her organization has, which assists individuals with various special needs in reaching their potential through interaction with horses, but didn’t really know that it existed as an opportunity for him.
“So these opportunities are so great,” Fella said about the “Connect Henderson” community engagement fair. “The ‘needs’ community knows what we all do, but not always the general public. This was amazing turnout.”
Healing Reins was one of approximately 20 organizations set up inside and outside the Pittsburg Tank & Tower meeting room at the Henderson County Public Library on Tuesday evening to educate visitors at the “open house-style” event about their activities and opportunities for volunteer and board service.
For more than two hours, attendees visited with the organizations to learn just a little bit more about what’s available in Henderson to address various needs and interests. It served to help “connect the dots” between someone’s concern and compassion for a particular issue and a way to help address it.
Just a few examples of what the attendees could learn:
- How Volunteer & Information Center volunteers build beds for kids who don’t have one, teach people how to balance a checkbook and provide free help with preparing tax returns
- That St. Anthony’s Hospice has an organized program to support people who have suffered a loss and are going through bereavement, and it offers services way beyond what’s often associated with the word “hospice”
- There are many summer programs — with maintaining reading skills while school is out as the old reliable —to keep the kids busy and engaged at Henderson County Public Library
- If you have expertise in dance, art, chess, fishing, cooking or nutrition (or some other topic you’re passionate about), Audubon Kids Zone wants to capture that and pass it on to the younger generations
- That in a new project, Friends of the Library has helped purchase equipment for the library that will allow people to convert precious family videos, slides and photo negatives from outdated formats to new media
The “Connect Henderson” event was one of the projects of the most recently graduated Henderson Leadership Initiative class.
Project creators Kate Faupel Grealish, Terry Harmon, Kara Henshaw, Sean Leavelle, Christine Martin, Nick Nation, Dee Patel and Samantha Reynolds envisioned that the community engagement fair would be valuable for both community newcomers and life-long residents who would like to know more about the community’s resources and how to get involved with one.
Grealish said her group wanted an easy framework and a project that could be sustainable for repeat engagement fairs.
“We thought it would be good for non-profits,” she said, by helping them secure volunteers as a form of economic improvement. She said six of them expressed interest in participating right away, and then they just kept signing up.
Tammy Sutton of Audubon Kids Zone said that though she “plugged into” the resources the community has to offer, she herself learned some things. She said that people looking for a place to engage and volunteer had a lot of possibilities to consider.
Fella agreed, noting that seeing all of the resources set up in the same place, sharing their opportunities, was eye-opening.
“We have a little bit of everything for a small community,” she said.