Watch the Replay
The Power of We:
Lynchburg’s Newest Nonprofit Expo!
with Jessica Arrington and Sarah Grant
There is a growing desire for collaboration among nonprofit organizations!
Power of We Lynchburg is a premiere nonprofit expo serving the Lynchburg community. It is designed to connect local nonprofits to the general public and to one another for the purpose of unity and usefulness. There will be an opportunity for nonprofits to network, a chance to be a winner of our raffles or $500 scholarship and to be empowered and celebrated at our Empowerment Hour Rally, FREE of charge.
The goals of this event are:
- To develop a strong sense of Unity in the Community!
- To bridge the gap between nonprofits and community members for the sake of usefulness and unity.
- To empower the community to actively know and use the resources that are available.
- To provide education on the 10 Keys to Empowering a Thriving Successful Community.
Please join us on September 29, 2018 (Rain date: October 27th) from 11:00am-4:00pm at the Tree of Life Ministries Outdoor Venue. There will be a food truck round-up and much more!
Our greatest desire through Power of We for the leaders of nonprofits is that you are known, heard, connected, valued and supported by the community you serve so you may be able to continue to keep the mission in focus, create bandwidth for celebration and tread the waters of collaboration for the joy of unity and usefulness.
We recognize the potential of Power of We Lynchburg to evolve into a movement across our nation and around the globe.
If you’d like to bring the Power of We to your community, visit: https://thepowerofwelynchb.wixsite.com/website to get started!
Download the event flyer below:
Follow Power of We on Social Media
Join the Interview Live HERE
Watch the Interview
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Welcome back to The Nonprofit Exchange. It’s Hugh and Russell. Russell, how are you on this fine day?
Russell Dennis: Greetings from the mountain west. Welcome, everybody, to The Nonprofit Exchange, where we are going to talk about the power of collaboration. You folks down in Lynchburg are going to get a chance to have some fun this weekend attending an event that our guests are putting on.
Hugh: Absolutely. We are going to talk to them about what they do in real life, but this is amplified life. Jessica and Sarah, please introduce ourselves to our audiences.
Jessica Arrington: Thank you so much. I’m Jessica Arrington, and I am the assistant community engagement manager for Rise Against Hunger here in Lynchburg. I help with the school feeding and disaster relief programs that we have there. We are helping to feed orphanages and schools around the world in over 80 countries. We also work with churches, schools, and nonprofits, businesses, and civic groups to package the meals. They host meal packaging events. We have a good time. It’s hands-on impact. I definitely enjoy what I’m doing.
Sarah Grant: My name is Sarah Grant, and I am the founder and director of a very young nonprofit called Community Restoration Initiative. We go by CRI, but usually people who see us online call us Cry, so I have to keep correcting people. We are not Cry – we are CRI. We provide support systems and mentorship to youth and families in the areas of Lynchburg’s seven hills. There are different neighborhoods in each of Lynchburg’s seven hills. We serve youth and families who we like to refer to as having indirect access to health support systems. The way that we determine who needs our services, the environments that we create as a means of building support systems and mentorship is we identify youth and families who maybe are surrounded by a lot of friends and family, but the diversity in their support systems and resources is limited. We have muse mentorship, we have a family environment, and we have a program for 1st-5th grade children. I oversee that.
Hugh: Give us a little background on who Sarah is.
Sarah: Sure. I grew up in New Jersey. I heard about this school named Liberty University that had my major. I couldn’t really decide where I wanted to go. After a less than 48-hour visit to Lynchburg, I had decided that is where I was going to go to school. I moved here when I was 19. I majored in Exercise Science, nothing related to the field I’m in. I just happened to go with a group of friends to serve at a food bank in downtown Lynchburg. I met all these kids that had grown up exactly the same way I did and fell in love with their families. I got connected to a group of amazing young people who wanted to do something for those kids on a week-to-week basis. One year led to another from 2011 until now, that has become what my life is centered around. Not just spending time with youth and kids in need, but figuring out how we can give them a voice and elevate them to a place where they can address their own needs. I have fallen in love with the very established part of Lynchburg, not necessarily the transient group in Lynchburg, but people who are very established. I fell in love with them. That is what my life revolves around now.
Hugh: More about Jessica.
Jessica: I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, but I came to Roanoke, Virginia. I was at Hollins University for undergrad and studied communications. I was also in the Batten Leadership Institute where I got my leadership certificate. Then I decided to stay on the staff there. I was the graduate assistant to the VP of Student Affairs, and Housing and Resident Life on the on-call staff there. I got my graduate studies completed, and I got my Masters in Justice and Legal Studies. As I completed my education, I asked what is the next step. What do I want to do? Where do I see myself contributing to the community? I remembered throughout undergrad, I was volunteering with Rise Against Hunger. I would do meal packaging events with the chaplain of our university. I said, Okay. They have posted a job. Is this real? Is this reality? Can I work for a place I volunteered with for so many years? Yes, absolutely. I applied and became the assistant community engagement program manager.
We worked our way up to packaging over two million meals just in our location alone. We are only one location out of 35 locations across the U.S. and six international locations. I am fortunate to be able to work with a huge organization that is global and having global impact and local impact. My desire, similar to Sarah, is to advocate for youth and children, to advocate for those who are not acknowledged as having a voice in society.
It is so phenomenal that we also have other programming with Rise Against Hunger where we have agriculture and farming programming because the meals that we package are not going to end hunger alone. It is going to take helping to sustain those communities. We are helping to educate them on farming and get access to the framing equipment. Any crops that will bring revenue to their community and sustain throughout all conditions of weather is what we are doing. We have been doing that for a while now. It’s been making a difference. We give microloans to women in the countries we work. Mom and baby nutrition is a huge program that we work with. It starts there as well. It starts in the womb to have nutrition for the baby. Clean water. That is a huge thing as well. Having clean water and water filters because oftentimes if you don’t have the clean water, how can you make the meals we are sending? We want to make sure we cover all those areas. And sanitation.
Hugh: We had Ray Buchanan on last year as the founder of Stop Hunger Now, which is now Rise Against Hunger. Then we had Rod Brooks on. You’re in the section with those people who are in the trenches of leadership with this organization that you serve. I will say that I have known about it for years, but it’s a really important program which is going to end hunger in our lifetime. It’s a big deal.
The two of you have conspired to produce an event called The Power of We. I want to probe on the leadership piece here. Out of every 100 people that have a great idea, only three people will do anything about it.
Sarah: Those are real statistics.
Hugh: Three people will actually do anything. Two of those will not succeed. I have seen pretty large amount of energy coming to this. Talk a little bit about why you did this. What was the journey like? How did the two of you connect?
Before we do that, I am going to share a screenshot. You have already seen this, Jessica. Do you see that? People on the podcast won’t see it, but I will have it in the transcript. This is Ray Buchanan. This is the organization that you serve. I know more about this than I do what Sarah is doing. This is Ray, who is surrounded by children that you are working with around the world. You are in so many different countries. You are working for a very successful nonprofit. You are in a key leadership position. You and 140 of you around the country. It’s a powerful movement. You have repositioned your skillset to do something unique. Talk about how this came about and what it took to make it happen.
Jessica: For me, I do warehouse logistics in my role, but a big part of my role is community engagement. I took it and ran with it. I knew there was a huge desire in Lynchburg for collaboration. I have been at leadership trainings with you, Hugh. I have been in different conversations. I had personal conversations one on one. Hearing it over and over, I said, Okay. I am a doer. I want to make this happen for you guys. I want to make it happen for myself and our organization. I know I can’t do that by myself. I said, Who are those people I wouldn’t mind partnering with? It started out with one of my co-workers. She had referred Sarah. Sarah and I met, and we didn’t know each other beforehand. I didn’t know about CRI beforehand, and she didn’t know about Rise Against Hunger. By us networking, by us talking, having that first meeting and conversation, she was sold. She said yes. We were talking about it. We started having these planning meetings and digging deep into what are we going to provide through this event? What are the outcomes, goals of the event? We want to celebrate what has already been done. We don’t want to say that what we are doing is better than any other expo or fair that has been done, but we want to be able to add to that success. That was important for us as we were sitting down and collaborating and deciding what to do for this event.
Hugh: Did you model this after something else you had seen, or did you think this up from scratch?
Jessica: Definitely from scratch. Especially the trunk case component of the event. I know that we were going to do it outdoors. It was going to be an outdoor venue. I know that resources are limited in regard to getting tables and having to rent those tables and chairs. I thought, Why not do a trunk case? It is a good way to creatively display the resources of the nonprofits.
The other piece is the rally. A lot of times, why did you add a rally component to this event? Rallying means you are coming together because you all agree on the same thing and you want to celebrate that. You are empowered by that thing, whatever that is. I said we can come together on the spirit of collaboration and celebrate the nonprofits for what they are doing in the community. It is a rally.
Hugh: How many different entities do you expect are going to show up?
Sarah: We have between 30 and 35 different nonprofits who will be there. We have noticed through invitation that there are definitely certain categories of nonprofits that signed up before we could even ask them to sign up. Different categories where we could almost not get a response. It was exactly a common theme. Certain ones that wanted to be there couldn’t wait. Certain ones that were hesitant, but they were in as soon as they had information. And some that we just couldn’t even get in touch with. It was super intriguing. It wasn’t just one nonprofit to the next, but certain sectors of nonprofits. That was very interesting.
Hugh: Is SynerVision leadership Foundation going to be there?
Jessica: Yes, definitely.
Sarah: Of course.
Jessica: Another component of our event is that we have a resource area. We thought of key players and organizations that service our community through a roundtable leadership training, Hugh and SynerVision. We also have a family services organization that is going to be there because they provide a lot of resources to nonprofits. And also the Greater Community Foundation for Lynchburg is going to provide resources because they provide a grant application process and scholarship that nonprofits can apply for.
Hugh: Yay. I guess I better get my stuff together before Saturday, shouldn’t I? I used to travel far away to do things like this. It’s really nice to have it ten minutes from home.
Russell, what are you hearing here? Do you have some comments and questions brewing?
Russell: What little bit that’s there is on the gray side, but that’s okay.
Jessica: Russell, you should come and package meals with us at an event. You won’t need a hairnet.
Russell: I don’t like those anyway. Thanks for the work you’re doing. By the way, if you get stuck getting things organized, call Leigh Anne. She can help.
Russell: The work you’re doing is really great. It’s doing something for the first time that might be a little scary for people, but I think that will change as people get there. What are some of the benefits that the community is going to get? Some of those nonprofits that participate. I am going to assume it’s not too late for people to join in if they want to participate.
Sarah: No, it’s not. Our deadline for registration is Friday night, midnight. Our deadline to be on the map and enter the raffle is Thursday night. We are keeping it open until Friday night. I think I could answer that question in two different ways, one for the Lynchburg general public and also for the nonprofits.
I come from both sides, but very heavily from the nonprofit side. I have just had the most incredible opportunity to always be very tightly connected with other grassroots nonprofits. We lean on each other. We share resources. We create together. We ask about how we can do events together. Sometimes we connect really well, and it’s an obvious match. Sometimes literally as leadership, we just need to say, This is crazy. Why are we doing this? Get it out, then move on with the day. Something we want so badly for nonprofits for the leadership, for maybe even just the representative who showed up that day and was feeling burned out, for them to step into this world or continue in this world of friendship with other nonprofits, and then collaboration from there. Collaboration is going to happen more easily if you’re friends with the leadership in the other nonprofits, or if you have this mutual enjoyment and admiration of each other. For nonprofits, we also want them to know about each other. We want them to know about resources that are available to them that they had no idea about. We want them to be encouraged and to feel valued. Just to get this boost when they leave, Wow, people wanted to know about us. They wanted to hear more. They didn’t just want to receive; they wanted to give.
For the general public, we do think that everyone who is coming for the most part has this awareness of maybe like a category of nonprofits, and they are very entrenched in one that resonates with them, like social justice or animal welfare. You might tend to gravitate toward that category of nonprofit. We want a heightened awareness of the spectrum. This is crazy, but I didn’t realize that, shoutout to WNRN, they were a nonprofit. Didn’t cross my mind. Just a different category that I hadn’t thought about. People need to know that, so you know that they need resources. We want to educate on the different categories of nonprofits. We also want them to have face-to-face conversations with the faces behind the organization, further than social media, further than showing up as a volunteer one day. We want education, and we want people to know how you can receive resources from them and how you can give to them. Do you want to add to that?
Jessica: Yeah, I also think there will be opportunities to have face-to-face conversations about job opportunities and volunteer opportunities. It’s difficult to have to go to each office around our city. Why not do it right there? Everyone is there. You can talk to them then. We also have a food truck round-up. Everyone loves a food truck round-up.
Sarah: And a DJ.
Jessica: We will have a DJ with live music. We will have performances at the rally. We will also be giving away items. You don’t want to miss that. The items we will be giving away to a participating nonprofit will be a $500 scholarship. You didn’t have to go through the process of applying because that is something I have heard of tons of times. Depending on the grant, it is necessary. You need to apply and put all the financials together. But for this celebrating you and what you’re doing, we are for it. Just participate. You register, and you are in the drawing. We are also giving away a SynerVision package. We are giving away a rebranding package from Jacob Hunter Design. He also designed our logo on the page, as you can see, which is phenomenal, to encompass what Power of We stands for. Joining hands, coming together. We also have gift cards to different meeting places like Ledo’s Pizza, the great meeting venue. We have Market at Main. The Whiteheart. For you to meet with your clients. It doesn’t have to be in your office. Some nonprofits don’t have an office space, so it will be great for them to give back.
Russell: Power of We has such a chance to become a movement instead of a one-time thing. You are serving a lot of the same people, and that is where collaboration is good. I have just signed on to an affordable housing task force here in Aurora because we are dealing with homelessness. We have more agencies climbing on board. It’s remarkable when people get together and do things.
The rally is a military term. Rally point. There is a network for former military called Rally Point. It is bringing people together to make a huge push. A rally point is a point where troops get together to make a big push.
An expo and a rally are different. This is outside of what I was thinking. I am curious how you decided that combining an expo with a rally would be a way to generate some interest and bring people together.
Jessica: As I mentioned before, acknowledging the community fairs and expos we had before where we are able to show people the resources of nonprofits and phenomenal ways to connect. We divided the time up. Between 11-2 will be the expo. At 2:30 will be the welcome and getting started, then the empowerment rally. It is not just a rally. We are using this time so that members of our community and nonprofit leaders who can speak for five minutes, no more than five minutes. I call it an empowerment shot, a shot of wisdom, on why that component or type of nonprofit is important and adds value to our community. Where would Lynchburg be without that type of nonprofit? For example, advocacy and social justice. Where would Lynchburg be without that component? Where would we be without food and nutrition nonprofits? Where would we be without shelter nonprofits? It’s that. Being able to hear from those folks and be empowered and know that what you are doing is viable and adds value to the community. Giving away those giveaways and having a good time with the artists who will present.
Russell: What are some of the wins that you have experienced as a result of deciding to do this?
Sarah: That’s a good question. Some of the wins. I have spent a couple months calling nonprofits inviting them. Personally speaking, but a win for me has been to connect with at least ten nonprofits that I didn’t have a relationship with before. One of the overall wins is getting this general buzz or vibe. Oh my goodness, we need this. We want this. Let’s do this. I’m guessing come back to us a week from today and we will be able to share with you another win that the people who expressed wanting this so badly are going to have this huge encouragement. That was good. That was what we needed. Did you want to add onto that?
Jessica: Another one would be those nonprofits who weren’t able to make it, they sent a message saying, “We can’t make it, but we are excited about this, and we support it. We will share the flyer on our social media pages. We will encourage others to come.” They have been supportive in that way if they can’t attend the event.
Hugh: Go back to Russell’s question about combining the expo and the rally. Give us more in depth. How is it going to play out during the day? What are the components of the rally? What is the reason I should be there? I will. But if I were hearing about this for the first time, what is a compelling reason for me to be there?
Sarah: That’s a good question. First of all, I want to mention that this event is really awesome that we are planning it together because I am super passionate about the expo, and really pumped about it uniquely. Jessica is the eternal optimist. She is super pumped about the rally. While we are both excited for both parts, it has worked out perfectly that we are drawn to different parts of it. I will give you the plug for the expo, and Jessica can answer that question for the rally.
Hugh: If you are going there, define what you mean by expo.
Sarah: Sure. We have a couple different things in Lynchburg. One thing is Get Downtown. You can walk around, and you can meet different businesses. They will have some of their items for sale or talk about their business. We wanted something that was special like that just for nonprofits. By an expo, we wanted to create for them an opportunity to put on display for the Lynchburg general public that was walking by whatever they wanted Lynchburg to know about them. As I was making calls, we said you want your booth/trunk case to add value to you. We want you to put on display whatever best represents who you are and what you want Lynchburg to know about you. I don’t think I could give you a better definition than what we mean by expo. I think it would be cool to see different ways people interpret that. Your platform for face-to-face conversations to display who you are to Lynchburg.
Jessica: The general public can experience your resources on site as well. For example, Special Olympics. They will showcase their sports. They will have a basketball hoop. That is a good example. That draws people to their trunk case.
Hugh: Sweet. So you talk about this rally thing now.
Jessica: The rally component is important because that at the end of the expo, all the trunk cases will be shut down. The focus will totally be on the rally. It’s not like there is something over here and something over there. All attention will be on the rally. When we start the rally, we will welcome it with an emcee to kick it off and give that energy. We are giving energy to all those who are in attendance. Once we do that, we will do the first giveaway, which is awesome. Then we will go into the first performances. We will also have some speakers start, giving their input on how their component or their category of nonprofit is adding value to our community. You want to hear that. You want to hear where Lynchburg will be without the nonprofits we have. We will go into more performances and giveaways. It is only one hour. We are not asking you to be there for a long time. It is just one hour to empower, inspire, and uplift you to keep doing what you’re doing in our community. It’s free. That’s why you should come. I am not asking you to pay anything. Just to be inspired and empowered. People need that. You need to be motivated. You need to be refreshed. Come get a refresh. You are working so hard.
Hugh: You said performances. Go into that a little more.
Jessica: We have some artists who are going to be presenting. We have McKinley. He is going to- Cartwell. He is a singer and performer in Lynchburg and surrounding areas. He has done some events in our community and gives back in that way. We also have Ashley Johnson who is a musical artist in Lynchburg. We are also supporting local artists in their craft. That is cool, too.
Hugh: Russell, I think we need to point out that this is Lynchburg, Virginia.
Russell: I love what you’re doing. I would love to see some Facebook Live. I’d also love to see some people who have benefited from the work that a lot of these organizations are doing. Raving fans. Interviewing them. Have them talk about their experiences with your organizations. That would be phenomenal.
Hugh: When you started announcing this, did everybody jump on board right away? Or were some people saying they were too busy? I bet you got a variety of responses.
Jessica: All of the above.
Sarah: We had “Yes, tell me where to sign.” We even had some people push back a little and say, “How is this different form this event or that event?” We had people say they can’t be there due to the Virginia 10 Miler. We had the whole spectrum of responses. Absolutely, yeah.
Hugh: I am running the race, and then I am coming.
Jessica: We appreciate you for that.
Sarah: We will have some food trucks waiting.
Hugh: I told Russell that was my anniversary date with my wife. What better thing to do on your anniversary, right?
Sarah: I have to agree with you.
Hugh: Then we will come spend the day with you guys. You are having different presentations during the day? What are some of those?
Sarah: The expo is set up so that Lynchburg community members come and go from one booth to the next. There is music playing, food trucks, and then you walk from booth to booth. The only time there will be presentations is when we transition into the rally. The presentations will run through the course of the rally from 2:30-3:30.
Jessica: That way we don’t take away from those conversations you can have face to face.
Hugh: What does SynerVision bring to the table? We represent collaborative thinking, as you know from the symposium. Jessica attended the Lynchburg symposium. Russell has taught at a couple of them. We had the founder of Rise Against Hunger as one of the presenters there. You know what is behind the work that we do to empower the work of nonprofits. What do you think we will bring to the table on Saturday?
Jessica: I definitely want to take this moment to thank SynerVision. Not only was that workshop the moment that I had that Aha that we should do this, but I also-
Hugh: Say that again. I want people to hear you.
Sarah: You weren’t letting that one slip by.
Jessica: You led some small group discussions at the training where we were able to talk with each other as nonprofit leaders. One of the things that came up was the desire to collaborate. We were talking and sharing ideas and saying we wanted to do, do, do. We didn’t leave feeling like we were actually going to do anything. We didn’t have action items set in place. But it was very encouraging and motivating for me because I was like Aha! We should do this. That was how this started, was from that workshop. I really appreciated that opportunity, that platform, that think tank.
Hugh: Stirring it up. That was what I do.
Jessica: The reason why we invited SynerVision to come to the resource area was because we don’t want any nonprofit not to know about these opportunities to grow as leaders of nonprofits. We want to have you there for that purpose as well.
Hugh: We will be giving away a program as part of your door prizes. We are going to offer people a chance to sign up for a free leadership program as well in addition to that.
Jessica: I think that will be great.
Sarah: We have a lot of nonprofits that are coming that have one or two people on staff that are new, that are starting up. We are excited to connect them with you. I think they will thrive from the training that is going to be available to them. I think probably more likely they may not have heard about because they are in this sink or swim mode.
Hugh: Maybe we ought to think of some follow-up discussions after this day, Jessica, that I would be happy to facilitate with you. What did people discover? You had an idea at my symposium. One of the breakouts during lunch was on collaboration. The mayor was there. Bishop Younger was there. The president of the symphony was there. Jessica was there. We had a large group stay for that. There was 30 of the attendees at the breakout session. We went and got lunch and came back. We had an informal discussion. There were several collaborations that happened there, one of which was the RAMP church, they made arrangements to sing with the symphony. Little did I know at that moment that I would be the conductor. I was cheering them on. Later they asked, “Why don’t you direct that concert?” Amazing things happened that day.
What I perceive myself to be is a catalyst for people to begin to think differently. That is what you are doing. You are putting together an opportunity for people to get out of their rut and think differently. I am going to kick it back to Russell. He has been taking us in, and he probably has some more comments and questions for you.
Russell: My new title I have taken on this year is Possibility Engineer. There is a lot more possible, the more people you have, the more hands makes the work lighter. It is about focusing in possibilities instead of challenges. You can do that when you come together. It’s all about having great outcomes for the organization. Great outcomes for everybody. What is the big outcome that you’d like to see take place as a result of doing this event? What is the big impact that you want to make on the community? How will that affect the way things go moving forward?
Jessica: When I said previously about being able to refresh the leader and retool the leader, that is important. If they don’t get that chance to do that, then they get burned out. We know how oftentimes nonprofit leaders are doing give different roles in one position. They can burn out easily. I think this is the most important thing I want to come out of this is they feel celebrated, they feel empowered, and they feel like they are adding value to our community. Also, the general public sees the value the nonprofits are bringing to our community.
Another long-term outcome we want to see is collaborating with other individuals and leaders in our community to put together and finalize an online directory of the resources in Lynchburg. That is important because we all have different packets and lists that we all use from different places. They are valuable. We need one place for all of those resources. If I am coming in to town for the first time and I don’t have a lot of items and I need a place to stay, I need to know what number to call to know where I can stay for the night or get certain resources with easy accessibility. That is what we would like to do long-term as well.
Russell: Everything is there, and it is fragmented. A lot of the movement that we have going here, this movement toward being able to have those conversations. We have to get in a room together. We can do a lot more together than we can alone. That is tremendous. That is huge. I know you like to see that grow further.
Power of We, Lynchburg. Do you see that as more of a movement?
Jessica: I think that Power of We is an initiative. That is embodying the spirit of collaboration is alive and well in Lynchburg. As I have been talking with other people who like our page that aren’t in Lynchburg, they may be in Baltimore, they may be in Roanoke or other cities, they’re like, This is something we need as well. I definitely think it can be replicated in other cities. I would love to help those individuals who want to take the lead on that. We want to train them and give them the tools they need to do the same thing in their area.
Sarah: I think a paradigm shift sometimes requires a tool, not just you wake up one day and think differently, but it requires tools or opportunities for that. something tangible.
Russell: That would be good. I know you will learn a lot and find out a lot. Those people who are involved will be gushing over. When you go to look at how it all went, more ideas will come out of it. There will be more people to listen to. I am excited. It sounds good. What we are doing in Aurora just around homelessness, you are probably onto something. That is something I want to share with the task force here. Maybe we can put something similar together. I will be watching.
Hugh: For those people who are watching us on Facebook, we have a poster here. There is a link for your website, Jessica. I have that on the page at nonprofitexchange.org. You have a powerful logo here. We will have a sponsor presentation and then give you a last chance to offer some encouragement for people who have an idea brewing, but they are afraid to step out because they might fail. I have seen you forge ahead with this and not worry about failure. That is inspiring. Before I go to the sponsor mention, talk about what were some of the leadership challenges that you all had to raise the bar on for yourselves to pull this off?
Sarah: That’s a great question.
Jessica: For me, I would say balance of time. I think Sarah agrees as well. Not only were we planning for this event and this initiative, but we also had to make sure we were doing our roles and responsibilities with our nonprofits. We had to balance our time accordingly and plan ahead. That was crucial to keeping our commitments to each other and to our community.
Sarah: Absolutely. I will jump into brand new things with my flag flying in the air. Yet I am mortified of failure every single time. Every time. I am afraid of being in the middle of a parking lot with nonprofits saying, “Where are the people?” Or people saying, “Where are the nonprofits?” Or food trucks saying, “Where are the people?” These kinds of things could keep me awake at night from the day that we decided to do this. It’s definitely been an obstacle for me to overcome this fear of failure and say, Well, can I measure what failure is? No, I can’t quite measure what I’m thinking of as failure. So I am going to decide what success is and just keep moving forward with planning. Every single time I come to a big event, like this wonderful and terrible opportunity to face this fear of failing over and over again until I start to become more laidback.
Jessica: Another thing that we did that was crucial in the planning process and accepting failure is allowing key people in our community into our think tank, into our planning sessions, who have done things that are similar to this event and can add wisdom and some critique. In that same vein, accept that critique and criticism. Not take it as something personal, but take it as something valuable that will add to our planning. We had to shift some things as we went along. That’s okay. Our initial idea isn’t the same as what we are doing, but that’s okay. We enlarged it and increased things and shifted gears to make sure it’s adding the value that we want to our community. That’s important. Not to be afraid of change along the way, especially when you are in the initial stages.
Also, we have already set our evaluation meeting for after the event to figure out how many of our goals we met and achieved. Like you were saying, figure out the testimonials and the outcomes. How do we want to go forward for next year? This is something we want to see happen annually. We don’t want a one and done type of event. This is something we want to keep going.
Hugh: I think Russell and I both will tell you that one of the great strengths of leadership is the power to change and the power to be flexible. It’s not power as much as it is the wisdom. The wisdom of leadership. I am guilty. Maybe other people are, too. I get stuck in the rut. Here is where I am going. Nothing is going to get in my way. It’s okay to have the dedication like you did and the vision like you did; however, if it’s not working like you want it, then let’s change it. The Power of We. I am going to do a sponsor message. Then I want you to speak about what it is that is driving you and how you can encourage other people to take their dream and put it into reality. We will let Russell close out for this week.
*Sponsor message from United Methodist CyberCampus*
As you are leaving us with a thought, The Power of We is a powerful event because we have powerful leaders. What thoughts would you like to leave people with, Jessica and Sarah?
Jessica: I would say our desire for The Power of We is for you all to feel connected, empowered, inspired, and to know the nonprofit organizations and resources within our community. We want to be able to continue this initiative and to make it stronger. We value your input and feedback, so please let us know what you think afterwards.
Sarah: To add to that, the encouragement for someone that has an idea and may think more along the lines of my husband, who pokes holes in things and sees the risk versus me who can’t see those things ahead of time. Whether you are on one side or the other or anywhere in between, I just can’t think of a better way to learn and to grow in the field that you’re in and what you’re passionate about than to surround yourself with people who have more wisdom than you, and then to do. I have never found in my many years on this earth a better way to grow than to act. With that wisdom, to change and to ask people for their advice, and to listen to it. But the acting upon an idea is where you solidify things that you otherwise are just hearing about, solidify them as tools that you have at your disposal. Powerful. It’s powerful to act.
Jessica: That’s why our purpose is unity and usefulness. This event is for the purpose of unity and usefulness. Let’s come together and make this event useful to whatever your needs are, whatever your desires are.
Russell: That’s it. It’s this power of collaboration. We can do together what none of us can do alone. The Power of We needs to be a movement in your mind, not just something that is a one-off. We start somewhere. Knowledge is power when it’s applied. It takes up space when it’s there. But when it’s applied, it’s power and powerful. We can do a lot more together. I am looking forward to hearing more about this and seeing how what you’re doing can blaze a trail for nonprofits everywhere. Like I said, I am a possibility engineer. There are always more ways to do things. There are people who are sitting in this audience who are thinking that something sounds crazy that is in your head. Write it down and share it with somebody. Don’t get discouraged if somebody tells you 8,000 reasons for why you can’t do it. Just go talk to some more people. If you are the smartest person in the room, run like the devil and find another room.
Thank you very much for coming. It’s been a pleasure to get to meet you and get to know you. I hope to spend some time with you in the future. Hugh will be there on Saturday. I will be there in spirit. I just believe that the work we are doing here should be supported. We support one another. There is strength in numbers.
For Hugh here at The Nonprofit Exchange. We are here. Check out the website. You will find this available. Don’t listen to it just once. Listen to it again and again and again. Continue to feed yourself that encouragement.
Hugh: Thank you, Russell. Thank you, ladies. I think there may be a Power of We Denver in the future.
Russell: This Power of We thing is going to be everywhere, Hugh. You better get used to it.
Hugh: Thank you all for a good session of The Nonprofit Exchange.
Jessica/Sarah: Thank you so much.