Join us for a March Networking Social

For great networking and fun socializing, be sure to make plans to attend GRAVA’s networking social at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday, March 23 from 5:30 – 7pm.

Register here.

vmfaA perfect opportunity to bring that colleague or friend who has been thinking about joining GRAVA. Immediately following, docents will provide exclusive tours!

  • Click here for a map
  • Free and ample parking
  • Only $5 admission
  • Cash bar and free appetizers provided
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Save the date for GRAVA’s Annual Conference!

GRAVA is thrilled to announce we’re bringing the Fixler Group to Richmond for our 2017 Annual Conference! Registration opens in March. Here’s what to do in the meantime.

More details coming soon – hope to see you there!

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President’s Message for January 2017

untitled“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was a hit by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell in 1967. We were reminded of the importance of keeping our eyes on the mountains during our January workshop. What a wonderful way to start the year! The workshop got us all thinking about the importance of going through the process of creating our own personal philosophy statement in regards to our work with volunteers and what fuels our passion. The statement should provide a context and a guide for our daily work as well as incorporate the ethical core values and principles. We are to consider our roles as leaders and how does that fit with who we are personally in the community, the larger nation and in the world?

So, as you plan for strategic volunteer involvement, advocate for your volunteers, attract and onboard your volunteer workforce, prepare volunteers for their roles, document volunteer impact, manage volunteer performance and acknowledge, celebrate and sustain your volunteers, GRAVA is here to support and help you along the way. It is going to be a great year as we keep our eyes on the mountains!

Excited to hear about progress made on your personal philosophy statements and updates on your professional development at our next meeting!

See you in February,

Melissa M. Gilmore, M Ed., CVA
GRAVA President

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January Meeting Recap

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At our January GRAVA meeting on “Defining Your Philosophy of Leadership,” we were happy to be on Sesame Street, hosted by Community Idea Stations and our board member, Brynn Markham.

Katie Campbell, CVA and immediate past Executive Director of the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA), led us through a step by step process to begin developing a personal philosophy statement.

Katie shared the characteristics of a strong personal philosophy statement, and stressed that it is about you, not your organization. It should focus on the present, what you believe about your role as a leader of volunteers, no matter where you work. Your statement should be consistent with our professional core values and principles.  Katie provided this handout  with more details about the value and characteristics of a strong personal philosophy statement.

To get us started on creating our own personal philosophy statement, Katie provided a worksheet with questions to spark our thinking, such as “Why do you do what you do?” and “How does your role as a leader of volunteer engagement fit with who you are a person?”  She encouraged us to start by responding with simple words, phrases and ideas.  She suggested that we use this as a jumping off point and continue to write, revise and reflect on why we engage volunteers, discussing these questions with staff colleagues and finding a GRAVA buddy to further discuss. See Katie’s PowerPoint here.

“The intrinsic elements of service to others do not change – no matter what words we use, what we call ourselves, how we are compensated, or who we are.  Embracing this philosophy means letting go of the notion that there is only one way to operate, one way to climb the mountain, one path to follow.  There are many trails worth exploring and we need not fear we will get lost as long as we keep our eyes on the mountaintop.” ─Katie Campbell, CVA

After Katie’s excellent workshop, Melissa Gilmore, GRAVA president, announced that the group’s professional development scholarship will be renamed the Katie Campbell Professional Development scholarship, in recognition of Katie’s 30+ years of leadership and excellence in volunteer engagement as she retires from her position as Executive Director of CCVA.  Katie also had a gift for all of us as she brought ample books from her library to share and everyone went home with a book to continue our learning.

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November Meeting Recap

International Volunteer Manager’s Day Celebration – November 3, 2017
Hosted by Ellen Costlow and Special Olympics – Virginia

The Theme for the Day – Volunteer Management. One Job. Many Hats.


Many thanks to Brynn Markham, Professional Development Chair for GRAVA, for bringing so many great props and so much energy to the celebration. Brynn made sure that everyone received a GRAVA tote bag so we can share the message when we are shopping or running errands. She also brought wonderful hats to be used for photo ops in front of the IVM “wall.” Part of the photo ops included great signs which highlight the variety of “hats” we wear as Volunteer Managers: Magician, Trainer, Motivator, Interviewer, Manager and Miracle Worker.

Delicious ham biscuits and a giant Sugar Shack donut shared space on the refreshment table with lots of delicious fruit and the usual array of goodness which Kate Bausman, Hospitality Chair, provides.

After Melissa welcomed our crowd and new members introduced themselves, Joanna Brown, from the Salvation Army, spoke about the newly opened Community Kitchen in East Richmond. The management of the kitchen is looking for nonprofits who would like to use the space to teach classes or develop programming which will benefit the youth and their families so it can become a robust community gathering place.

Ellen Costlow provided an overview of the initiatives of the Special Olympics – Virginia crew and spoke about the efforts to create unified sports opportunities for youth with and without intellectual disabilities. Efforts of volunteers are directed towards programs which address health, education, community building, as well as sports. These programs address inactivity, intolerance, and social isolation. Ellen and the Team are doing amazing things.

Brynn Markham encouraged volunteer managers who are interested in Peer2Peer Mentoring, formerly called “the Buddy Program” to contact her so that she can put folks interested in specific topics together to benefit their professional development.

Then we introduced Judy Long, our presenter. Judy, who is a certified Personal Trainer, has been working officially in the fitness industry since 2012. Her program for us focused on identifying symptoms of being stressed and productive ways to de-stress which won’t send our systems into a downward spiral. With that in mind, Judy led us through 5 Steps to De-stress and provided a flyer to take with us to remind ourselves of those 5 Steps. I have already been putting her suggestions to work in my life. You can find out more about programs Judy offers at her company website: and at her Facebook page: AFX Fit & Boot Camp RVA.

We captured as many of the amazing Volunteer Managers as we could for a group photo at the end of the meeting, and they all appear very relaxed!  Great job, Judy!

In December we will take a break from our workshop schedule but be sure to mark our January 5, 2017 workshop on your calendar. We will be at the Community Idea Stations, 23 Sesame Street, Richmond 23235.

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Membership Update

welcome.jpgHello all GRAVA members and potential members,

I want to tell you why I joined GRAVA and what I get out of attending the monthly meetings. I was new to the nonprofit world when I took over the job as the Field Operations Supervisor at FeedMore. Even though I worked with recruitment of people and management and I was an avid volunteer I needed to know I was heading in the right direction with training, retention, and recruitment.  The person that previously held my job was a member and so I inherited her membership. I have renewed twice since then!

First let me share that I was welcomed into the family of Volunteer Administrators at GRAVA; we have awesome meetings, great trainings and wonderful opportunities to network.  If you are a new member thank you for being a part of this wonderful organization. If you are not just come one time — I think you will be pleased with what is happening.  

I hope to see you at our next meeting!


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Professional Development Update

risePeer2Peer Mentoring

For those of you that have expressed interest in Peer2Peer Mentoring, please watch your email after the holidays for an update so we can get going in the New Year. If you’re interested in participating in this rewarding program, and haven’t already done so, please email Brynn Markham and let her know. We will work to match you to other GRAVA members relevant to your interests.

GRAVA Scholarship Awarded

Congratulations to Sara Beauchamp, Volunteer Manager with Communities in Schools! Sarah was awarded a $100 scholarship to apply toward the cost of her professional development. She will be participating in coursework at the University of Richmond’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Sara will be taking a class on storytelling in the nonprofit sector that she hopes will prepare her for a special project with Communities in Schools that aims to establish a “storybank” for their volunteers’ experiences. We look forward to hearing Sara share more about this after she completes this coursework, in January.  

What Have You Accomplished This Year?

If you’ve completed coursework, earned a certificate or certification, please let us know, so we can share with your fellow GRAVA members. Seeing colleagues accomplish their goals is inspiring and can spur others to do the same. If you’ve completed any kind of professional development, email Brynn Markham, so she can share your accomplishments!

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