Our November meeting was held at the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha. Jackie Schmit from the club gave us an overview of their services followed by a tour. What a fantastic venue for the community and the members it serves. Kenosha is so fortunate to have a facility that gives so many children a safe haven to express themselves. It was nice to learn that in addition to activities for the boys and girls, the club also offers activities for seniors in the community. During the day while kids are at school, the club allows seniors to come walk around the facilities and play pickle ball in the gym.
The rest of the morning was spent with Julani Bayan, Human Services Instructor at Gateway Technical College. Julani facilitated a presentation that dealt with race and speaking about things that may be uncomfortable. One of his main points is that when we talk about race in society there is one absolute truth. There is only one race on this planet earth and it is the human race. Julani then had the class do a group activity that involved discussing things that are sometimes considered uncomfortable topics such as race, religion, politics, age, wealth, etc. An open dialogue ensued, and some great conversation stemmed from the exercise.
For lunch the Mayor of Kenosha, John Antaramian, came to have an open forum with the class. The Mayor was very open with his past experiences in Kenosha politics and what he foresees the future of Kenosha entailing. Many of the questions from the class revolved around development, especially in the downtown region of Kenosha. The Mayor talked about the need to build up, meaning that taller buildings would be coming to the downtown region in the future. The Mayor also talked about the need to improve the aging infrastructure in Kenosha and specifically discussed lead water pipes.
In the afternoon we spent time with Tara Panasewicz, CEO of United Way of Kenosha County. Tara talked about the United Way mission and how the United Way spreads resources to multiple, local non-profits. Tara has a vetted board who appropriately distributes all funding throughout the community. She told us about the changing landscape in the non-profit world. One of the greatest challenges faced is that many people now are donating to things like GoFundMe and other resources that aren’t local and have no checks and balances for distribution of funds.
The rest of the day was spent with Amy Garrigan and Debra Karp from UW-Parkside. Amy helped us think about our own personal mission and values. We then created our own personalized mission statement. Amy then explained her own personal timeline and things that she valued in her life. In the future we are going to create our own personal timelines.
Debra then gave a presentation that revolved around non-profit board service. Debra gave an overview of key points to consider when serving on a non-profit board. She stressed the importance of doing your due diligence in researching the organization you are thinking of joining.
Some key questions to ask yourself when joining a non-profit board:
- Can I make the time to fulfill the expectations of the organization?
- Am I passionate about the mission?
- Am I willing to make a financial contribution?
- What motivates me to get involved?
- Why am I being asked to serve on this board?
- In what way can I make unique contribution?