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: http://www.AFXfit.com 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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President’s Message for December 2016


Joy to the World is a classic carol written in 1719 by Issac Watts. While this is almost over 300 years ago, the theme is still very relevant. Joy is defined as the emotion evoked by wellbeing; to experience great pleasure or delight. Can’t we all use more joy in our lives? Isn’t it a great feeling when we can bring joy to someone else?

During the holiday season it is important for us all to reflect on how much joy our volunteers bring to their assigned tasks, the clients they serve and to our organizations as a whole. The passion and drive with which our volunteers fulfill their duties is amazing and should make us, as the leaders of these volunteers, feel joyful and have a spirit of gratitude. Last year in America, 62.6 million people volunteered! Imagine the impact that was felt and the joy that was shared.

The holiday season is a busy time for everyone and volunteer administrators are no exception. My hope for all of you this season is that you take the time to view all the tasks and projects, not as things you have to do, but as things you get to do. Sometimes just framing the way we think about things a little differently can change our perspective and our attitude as we proceed.

Wishing you all the many joys of the season!

See you in January,

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

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October Meeting Recap

Great Discussion at October Roundtable

First a huge thanks to Rodney Lofton from Diversity Richmond for welcoming us into a friendly venue and giving us an overview of the many programs and resources available to the LGBTQ+ community through the organization.

We also learned that the highly successful Diversity Thrift store makes it possible for the organization to offer grants to other nonprofits.

Updates on professional development shared by members:

  • Whitney Guthrie has been accepted into the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program.
  • Sheryl Luebke attended a conference on Palliative Care which brought together hospital and hospice care workers and volunteers.
  • Kate Bausman participated in a FEMA volunteer management program.
  • Terence Barber, a new member of GRAVA, discussed what a great resource GRAVA has been in his professional development.

We were still buzzing about the amazing presentation on “Creating an Inclusive Environment” by Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC).  Tawana Demery and Melissa Daniel Gilmore kept the momentum of the discussion going by briefly recapping that presentation and using a discussion group format to encourage all of our volunteer professionals to chime in.

Melissa reminded all to examine your own lens, ask tough questions, and acknowledge the role of institutional bias.  Both she and Tamara encouraged the group to watch the TED Talk featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which points out “The danger of a single story.”

Tawana provided a relevant anecdote about a simple conversation in a car on the way to a luncheon broke down longstanding coolness between her and a co-worker when they were able to frankly share information about their different cultural backgrounds.

With chocolate in our hands courtesy of our leaders, we broke into four groups for animated discussion of these 4 questions:

  1. What areas of diversity are most challenging for your organization?
  2. What is keeping you from being as effective as you want to be in addressing prejudice?
  3. What are some actions that you can take to foster greater inclusion and equity in your organization?
  4. What do you need others to do to foster greater inclusion and equity in your organization?

Thanks to Melissa and Tawana for leading the discussion, to Jen Miller for helping to procure this great meeting space, and as always, to Kate Bausman for a delicious breakfast. See you November 3 for a special International Volunteer Management celebration!

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President’s Message for October 2016

van-morrison“Bright Side of the Road” by Van Morrison is a classic. One of the lyrics is “Let’s enjoy it while we can. Help me share my load, from the dark end of the street to the bright side of the road.” Think about our jobs as volunteer managers and advocates of volunteers. We are always striving and helping to “share the load” for our organizations by connecting volunteers to meaningful work. We know we can “enjoy it while we can” if volunteers are placed in assignments where they feel they are making an impact. When we have done a solid job of recruiting and screening volunteers we are on the “Bright Side of the Road.”

We have learned in our last two GRAVA sessions the importance of being intentionally inclusive. Our presenter, Jonathan Zur, challenged us to ask tough questions and to recognize that it’s hard to be intentionally inclusive because there’s so much that we don’t know, that we don’t know. We can “help share the load” by examining our own lens, asking tough questions and acknowledging the role of institutional bias. Start to have conversations about diversity and inclusiveness with the leaders of your organization. If we all start to do this, we will move from the “dark end of the street to the bright side of the road!”

If you missed the October Roundtable, please pick up a Diversity Organizational Audit Checklist when you check in at the November meeting. This checklist is a way for all of us to begin to “share the load” in regards to diversity and inclusion.

Make plans now to attend the IVM Day meeting on Thursday, November 3rd. It is going to be quite the celebration!

Hope to see you there.

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

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