Putting It All Together via Information Orillia - VC Spotlight


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Putting It All Together via Information Orillia - VC Spotlight

  1. 1. OVCN’s Volunteer Centre Spotlight Written by Kevin Sutton, Communications & Community Engagement Coordinator September 4, 2013 Putting it All Together! Information Orillia assembles picnic tables and community contributions This summer, teams of Orillia High school teens gathered to build their skills as part of the ChangeTheWorld: Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge. The campaign calls to action youth aged 14 to 18 years to volunteer through a wide variety of exciting community initiatives. Orchestrated by the staff of the Volunteer Centre, Information Orillia, ‘Tables By Teens’ engaged 25 youth volunteers in assembling picnic tables. Inspiring youth to donate their time to an event can be challenging, even when it helps to fulfil their high school community service graduation requirement. Add the need to engage a variety of other community stakeholders plus the need to find resources to host the event -- while still raising the funds to keep the Volunteer Centre afloat -- and you have a picture of the challenges faced by Information Orillia. The solutions they developed were innovative, elegant, and most important of all, sustainable. In fact, their efforts were unique enough to attract the attention of the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN) Manager, Manon Germain, who began developing a case study about the event. “This event model has the potential to be replicated across Ontario,” says Germain. “This is a great opportunity for corporate and employee volunteering as well as group and family volunteering.” How did they do it? They built on the connections in their community. The staff at Information Orillia -- which is both a 211 Referral Centre and a Volunteer Centre -- connected with their local The Home Depot, who not only generously donated 30 picnic tables, tools, staff support, and space to build, but also handed out flyers for the event to their customers along with their own weekly newsletter in the weeks prior, and gave away t-shirts to youth volunteers the day of. “Connections such as this one are imperative to a Volunteer Centre,” says Melody Madden, Information Orillia’s Manager of Volunteer Services. “Home Depot has been and will continue to be a community leader. For us to host an event such as ‘Tables By Teens’ and to have them agree to throw their support behind it not only benefits The Home Depot brand, but also highlights the work we do, our message regarding the importance of volunteerism and the ChangeTheWorld Campaign. A definite win/win for both organizations.” Additional sponsors provided pizza and transportation, leaving only the cost of flyer printing with the local Volunteer Centre. Orillia mayor, Angelo Orsi and local M.P. Bruce Stanton both addressed the youth at the beginning of the event on the importance of volunteerism in our community. Other local celebrities were in attendance along with other community members and families pitching in. And at $100 a piece, 26 of the 30 tables sold before the event even started, $2900 was raised, and interest and relationships were built for next year’s ‘Tables By Teens’. “One of the greatest moments of the day occurred near the end of the event,” says Madden, “when a handful of youth came up to thank me for providing such a ‘fun’ day and asked if we would be hosting it again next year because they wanted to bring along more friends. For me, that was ‘the’ moment when I knew we were on to something that had the potential to grow even bigger and more successful in future years.” Information Orillia’s choice to prioritize building lasting connections in their community is the highlight of their innovative approach. However, creating meaningful volunteer opportunities -- that teach youth valuable skills, like ‘Tables By Teens’ -- also proved to be successful in both youth engagement and skills building, in addition to fundraising and relationship building. “Corporate, staff, citizen and community engagement were all instrumental in the success of ‘Tables By Teens’,” says Germain. “By offering an innovative skills-building opportunity for youth and by engaging corporations, employees and families, as well as community members to donate, someone gains a valuable summer resource – a picnic table.”
  2. 2. OVCN’s Volunteer Centre Spotlight Written by Kevin Sutton, Communications & Community Engagement Coordinator September 4, 2013 “On a personal level,” says Madden. “It was inspiring to take a moment and stand back, take a look around and see each group working within the group but also branching out when needed to help another team. The true sense of what community really means.” The Ontario Volunteer Centre Network will continue to promote, support and participate at Information Orillia’s CTW ‘Tables By Teens’ event for 2014 and 2015 and use the ‘Tables By Teens’ case study to develop a viable, low-risk, fundraising event toolkit to help VCs across the province sustain their operations. However, ‘Tables By Teens’ was not the only community-connection-building event put on by this Volunteer Centre. ‘Plant A Seed/Grow A Row’, another event of their CTW Campaign, benefited from the strong support of Christine Hager, Executive Director of the local food bank ‘The Sharing Place’, and Kevin Gangloff, Executive Director of the Orillia Youth Centre. The May 1st event (CTW Day) invited students from the Orillia Alternative School to start vegetables from seed and donate the produce to the food bank. Youth were also provided with a tour of ‘The Sharing Place’ by Hager, as well as a great presentation on why the Food Bank is essential in the community. “Many of the youth in the group were unaware of the fact that we do have a food bank in Orillia, how it works and who has access to it,” says Madden. “A great learning experience for all.” Information Orillia’s year of collaboration ‘wraps up’ from December 1st to the 24th when they host their annual fundraiser at The Orillia Square Mall via a gift-wrapping booth. A strong 10-year relationship with the Mall has generous Christmas shoppers counting on the presence of Information Orillia’s volunteers, many of whom are students meeting their 40-hour graduation requirement. By engaging their community connections, Information Orillia has not only exemplified an innovative approach to sustaining their own Volunteer Centre, but also contributed the model for a fundraising event toolkit, which will undoubtedly prove to be a vital resource for all of Ontario’s Volunteer Centres. Connect with Information Orillia via Facebook, or through their website: www.informationorillia.org. For more information about ChangeTheWorld visit www.ctw.ovcn.ca -30- Ontario Volunteer Centre Network c/o Volunteer MBC, 7700 Hurontario Street, Unit 601, Brampton, ON L6Y 4M3 (905) 238-2622 x229 admin@ovcn.ca www.ovcn.ca