June 23, 2011
I first saw Alana as she began working as a volunteer in the Red Cross shelter. We talked briefly and I learned she was a high school English teacher.
On her first day she demonstrated that she was there to work hard. I watched as she completed her assigned tasks and then found other work to do. She swept the floor, moved boxes and served food. She later took it upon herself to organize the shelter’s library of donated books and to teach a girl how to shoot a basketball. Read the rest of this entry »
June 20, 2011
I spent two weeks in Joplin, Missouri immediately following the EF-5 tornado that destroyed much of that small town. I was there as a member of the disaster relief team of the American Red Cross.
In Joplin I talked with many survivors of the storm. I toured the indescribable destruction inside the tornado’s footprint. I even became acquainted with several of the people who lost their homes and were staying in the Red Cross shelter.
The more I got to know the people of Joplin, the more I was inspired by them. Although they seemingly had lost so much, they were grateful for what they still had. Although they greatly appreciated the support coming from every part of the nation, they felt no sense of entitlement. Although they faced an uncertain future, they were hopeful and believed that better days would come. Read the rest of this entry »
November 5, 2009
I think committees are a colossal waste of time. Too often they focus on process rather than impact. The typical agenda emphasizes “coloring within the lines” rather than creating collaboration. Attendees are probably there because they are required to be, not because they necessarily have something to contribute.
Over time, a committee tends to take on a life of its own. It creates work to perpetuate its existence. It looks for problems to solve in areas where problems didn’t exist until they were created by problem-solving committee members.
When I’ve chaired committees I’ve often struggled to understand why the committee was originally created and why it continues to exist. I’ve been a member of committees where I was able to catch up on my reading while held hostage by PowerPoint presentations intended to torture me with a meaningless dump of information. As a nonprofit leader, I’ve staffed numerous committees where I wondered how to best use the time of busy volunteers who thought committee work was a good way to be engaged in a worthwhile cause.
Read the rest of this entry »