West Central Meeting Notes - June 16, 2009 


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Volunteer Management Network Meeting – West Central Region
June 16, 2009
John Wood Community College
Quincy, Illinois

Welcome and Introductions

  • Dr. John Letts, Vice President of Student Affairs of John Wood Community College welcomed those in attendance.
  • Scott Niermann of the Serve Illinois Commission welcomed attendees and shared the statistic that 2.6 – 2.7 million volunteers are serving around the state in a variety of different types of agencies (i.e. non-profits, government agencies).
  • All in attendance (about 25 people) introduced themselves. A range of agencies and positions were represented, primarily from Quincy, Macomb, or Peoria.

Serve Illinois Commission Updates


  • Review of RFPs for 2009–2012 AmeriCorps grants is near completion; grantees will be announced soon.

New Executive Director

  • Ted Gibbs, recently appointed Executive Director of the Commission, joined the meeting via teleconference to introduce himself and answer questions. Gibbs previously served as an AmeriCorps member, oversaw the Illinois Learn and Serve program, and served as a Commissioner. Gibbs stated that the Commission has the support of the governor to move volunteerism forward in Illinois.
    • Per a question from Mary Kubasak, he responded that current priorities include the following: increasing service opportunities; increasing the state volunteerism rate (currently 27–28%, want to increase the rate to be in the top 15 of states); and filling Commission spots (12 are to be filled). Gibbs also stated that Governor Quinn desires to bring integrity back to boards and commissions and listen to constituents throughout Illinois. Those interested in serving on the Commission can visit appointments.illinois.gov.
    • Jeff Turnbull asked how the Commission will be utilizing stimulus money, and Gibbs responded that according to federal guidelines, stimulus money from the Corporation for National and Community Service will be distributed to existing AmeriCorps grantees. For more information, individuals can visit recovery.illinois.gov.
    • Gibbs' contact information is ted.gibbs@illinois.gov or 312–814–3303.

Serve America Act

  • Scott Niermann spoke about the Serve America Act. He explained that it is a bi-partisan act to reauthorize the Corporation for National and Community Service. While the act was passed in April, now the federal agency (CNCS) has to give "marching orders" to those it affects.
  • The act is slated to go into effect October 1, but it also has to go through appropriations (i.e. Congress has to approve funding to carry out the changes that the Serve America Act outlines).
  • A summary of the Serve America Act and other information can be found at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Changes to Serve Illinois Website

  • Scott McFarland shared changes that have been made to the Serve Illinois website, serve.illinois.gov. For example, there is now a unique page for each VMN region and information on conferences around the state. Other changes are also in progress.

Illinois Volunteer Management Network – West Central Region Updates

West Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference

  • Elizabeth Swisher gave an update on plans for the 2009 West Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference, scheduled for October 29 at Wesley United Methodist Church in Macomb.
  • This will be the third year for the conference, and the goal is for it to grow and become more regional in nature. To that effect, a regional conference planning committee has been formed; about 14 people are involved so far.
  • Committee meetings take place monthly and plans are moving in a positive direction. For example, a conference logo has been created, save-the-date cards have been mailed, and the committee hopes to develop a conference website.
  • Committee members are currently seeking RFPs for workshops. Swisher distributed RFPs to the group and encouraged them to consider submitting a proposal or sharing the information with others who might be interested in presenting. RFPs are due to Nancy Jameson by July 1.
  • Those who wish to offer input on conference planning are encouraged to contact any committee member.

Peoria Area Volunteer Center Project

  • Jeff Turnbull discussed the possible development of a Volunteer Center in Peoria.
  • A number of individuals in the area are interested in starting a Volunteer Center, and they have come up with the name of the Central Illinois Volunteer Information Center (CIVIC).
  • The RSVP office in Peoria has space and computer software to support the project, but the big concern is staff. They are exploring the possibility of getting a VISTA member to help with operations.

Illinois Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD)

  • Pam Schaffer, Regional Director of the American Red Cross, shared information on VOAD, which is a national organization with state and local chapters.
  • The formation of the local VOAD group in Quincy was spurred by a flood that occurred in 1993.
  • VOADs are coalitions of many different organizations (i.e. non-profit, faith-based, government) that come together in the event of a disaster to respond to community needs.
  • VOADs focus on four C's: cooperation, coordination, communication, and collaboration.
  • There are currently 11 VOADs in Illinois, and they would like to see representation throughout the entire state.
  • At the Illinois VOAD's most recent quarterly meeting, members discussed the topic of an "Aidmatrix" in Illinois. Backed by FEMA, the Aidmatrix is an online portal to coordinate assistance (supplies, volunteers, funds, etc.) in the event of a disaster. Illinois has an Aidmatrix team that hopes provide training and resources on the topic. Members also listened to a keynote address on the pandemic and participated in dialogue and debriefing at the quarterly meeting.
  • Schaffer encouraged people to get involved in a VOAD and/or talk to their local Health Department, United Way, or other relevant agency about starting a local chapter.


Attendees enjoyed refreshments and an opportunity for networking.

Resources for Your Nonprofit

Illinois ResourceNet

  • Kathie Brown of the U of I Extension distributed literature and spoke about the Illinois ResourceNet project, the overall goal of which is to bring federal grant dollars back to Illinois.
  • Through Illinois ResourceNet, assistance is offered to agencies that wish to apply for a grant. Resources provided include Grant Alerts, webinars, conferences, technical assistance, and other training and education.
  • Organizations interested in receiving assistance can register on the Illinois ResourceNet website. A staff member will then follow up to discuss the organization's ability to manage a grant.
  • Brown stressed that grant development is an ongoing process and that it is important for organizations to learn from and build on their experiences. She suggested creating a "cheese book" that contains the standard information that most grant applications require (i.e. mission statement, strategic plan, demographics of area served, budget/financial information, and annual report).
  • Brown also mentioned that demonstrating collaboration and partnerships greatly increases the chances of a proposal's success.
  • The Illinois ResourceNet project is funded by a three-year grant from Grand Victoria. While nothing is definite, others have expressed interest in continuing to fund the project in the future.
  • The long-term vision of Illinois ResourceNet is to create a new structure/system in Illinois in which organizations and communities are equipped with the capacity to acquire more federal resources.

West Central Illinois Philanthropy Center at John Wood Community College

  • Pat Woodworth, Director of Library Services at JWCC, spoke about the West Central Illinois Philanthropy Center, which is housed at JWCC.
  • The center was formed by a group of five different organizations and is supported by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation.
  • The West Central Illinois Philanthropy Center provides information on foundation grants and other funding sources for non-profits. It is a resource available to anyone during the library's regular hours. Individuals can visit the center's website via the John Wood Community College website, but some resources can only be accessed on campus.
  • Woodworth encouraged people to stop by any time for assistance.

New Business & Opportunities for VMN Leadership

Goals for 2009

  • For meetings, a goal is to have a standard agenda with regular updates, followed by professional development opportunities.
  • The Commission would like to form regional leadership groups – this is a work in progress.

Volunteer Management Landscape Survey

  • The Serve Illinois Commission is planning to conduct a survey to assess the current state of volunteer management in Illinois. It will be distributed via email, and everyone is encouraged to participate.

Volunteer Recognition

  • The Commission has developed an ad hoc work group to look at statewide volunteer recognition.
  • The Commission has free certificates available that anyone can order and use to recognize their volunteers.

Days of Service

  • September 11 has been deemed a new national day of service in the United States. It may be the culmination of a "summer of service" that is mentioned in the Serve America Act, but details are yet to be publicized.
  • There are many days of service throughout the year, such as Make a Difference Day, Join Hands Day, National Volunteer Week, National AmeriCorps Week, Global Youth Service Day, etc. Participating in these days can be a good opportunity to raise awareness for volunteerism and involve community members in service projects.
  • Scott McFarland asked attendees to send him information on days of service that are not listed on the Serve Illinois website.
  • Illinois LeaderCorps members revised a "cook book" with numerous service project ideas; this resource can be shared with others.

Next Steps

Future Meetings

  • Next meeting will consist of networking at the West Central Illinois Volunteerism Conference (October 29, 2009 in Macomb).
  • Following the conference, the next meeting will take place in January – location TBD.
  • How can we increase meeting attendance and grow the network? Several people offered ideas and suggestions such as inviting people in other communities (i.e, Jacksonville) and reaching out to the networks of those already involved.

Submitted by Elizabeth Swisher, AmeriCorps*VISTA and Deanna Lang, AmeriCorps*VISTA, Western Illinois University and Volunteer NOW, Macomb, IL.

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