By: Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communications Director
More than 5,000 volunteer leaders gathered at our Nation’s Capitol June 19-22 for the largest gathering of its kind – The Points of Light’s Annual Conference on Volunteering and Service.
When you go to a conference of this size people always ask, “What did you learn?” I find it is not so much about what I learned, but it is more about being inspired, rejuvenated and hopeful for change to come.
Talk about inspiration – My first session that I attended was called; Mobilizing Youth for Change presented by the Youth Advisory Council of GenerationOn. This group of 14 teenagers from across the US blew me away with their poise, confidence and forward thinking. These kids, and yes, I mean kids, are changing the world. Take a moment to read their bios and be inspired too.
Next up was the opening plenary, titled “The Spirit of Service.” The plenary is to get you jazzed up and excited for what is to come over the next few days. I love finding out who the guest speakers will be because they are always people of influence, power and great statue. Once again, this year did not disappoint. We opened with the Mayor of the District of Columbia, The Honorable Vincent C. Gray, and closed with one of my favorite motivational speakers (who I had the chance of meeting and talking with when he was in Green Bay for the Green Bay Chamber Annual Meeting last fall) J.R. Martinez, U.S. Army Veteran, Author and Actor.
My first day closed with a networking event just for Red Cross volunteer managers from across the US. There were about 50 other volunteer managers there as well as Jim Star, VP, Volunteer Management and Kim Gube, Volunteer Relationships Manager for National Headquarters.
Getting that time to “talk shop” with my fellow Red Cross volunteer managers and bend the ear of the people at the top is invaluable. The volunteer management department has been turned on its head this past year with the launch of Volunteer Connection. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a great tool, and one incredible step for the American Red Cross in being OneRedCross, but with change comes lots of questions. Volunteer Connection was definitely the big topic of discussion over our beverages and appetizers.
Looking back now, on that first day, it was perfect! A day filled with inspiration from all angles: youth empowerment, empowerment from the top and empowerment from within my own organization and peers.
Stay tuned for day two…… Jody
ps. To view additional day one pictures from the conference click HERE.