Sneak Peek: Can you help me do two jobs at once? Sure U can!
I’m giving you a sneak peek at my [soon to appear in print] magazine column this month. To put it in a nutshell, I have a new job, but I’m not leaving the old one.
Last Wednesday, I accepted the job of Coordinator for the Dane County Salvation Army’s Disaster Services unit. You might recall that Wednesday was St. Patrick’s day (which my tribe holds dear), the perfect backdrop for learning that Division Headquarters of the SA had approved my appointment and so it became official that I had the job.
What made it perhaps one of my best professional days was knowing I had (IB owner) Bill Haight’s support in that appointment, because I am not leaving In Business magazine to take the other position. In fact, I’ll continue publishing the magazine and guiding new product development, as well as hosting our radio program and contributing to our IBMadison.com family of products.
“How will you do both?” County Executive Kathleen Falk asked. We were having a just-between-us-girls chat when I let the cat out of the bag that the job had been offered to me.
I smiled at her question because Bill had warned that people outside our inner circle would wonder that very thing — because while many people think they know me, they do not KNOW me. At least, not perhaps as well as he and the IB staff know me. That cluster of characters actually wasn’t surprised at all to hear I wanted to do both jobs. In fact, a few quipped that they wondered why it took so long for me to again merge my publishing career with a social service career; the two ran simultaneously for about 10 years in Milwaukee, where I was a newspaper columnist and also a suburban police crisis interventionist and Interfaith agency director (three jobs at the same time).
I told Kathleen Falk quite honestly how I would do it: “With a lot of help from a lot of wonderful people in the area … including help from you.” And then I told her exactly how she could help me; what appointments I would need to schedule with her staff.
I could use your help, too, of course.
We (you and I and our neighbors) have an opportunity to build something bigger than any single person’s vision; more important than an important-sounding job title, and larger than a large organization. The Salvation Army intends to build a model response team for the region, well trained in disaster response and support: A unit that will routinely be invited to participate in area, regional, and even major national traumatic events — because of the value, training, supplies, service and comfort it brings to such incidents.
It’s an attainable goal, since the canteen has already established an admirable service history. It was deployed for two weeks to help after the Stoughton tornados. A crew was sent to St. Louis for the flooding, and beyond, to Katrina. It was dispatched to Ground Zero in New York City, and to the Gray’s Lake flooding closer to home. It’s been at many area fires, and it was strategically stationed to support law enforcement during body searches along the lake and in landfills.
Sometimes, the team is called in by 9-1-1, sometimes by the DA’s office, and sometimes by the American Red Cross — Badger Chapter. Regardless where the call originates, if it fits our mission, we’d like to be ready to roll. And that’s challenging without enough people up and trained, ready to roll. That’s the REAL challenge I’m taking on in this job.
You’ve likely seen the red and white canteen yourself. It looks kind of like an ambulance, before the awning is rolled down and the food line is established. The question is, can you see YOU on that canteen, serving that food? Because I sure can! (See you there, smiling at people as you hand them a cup of hot coffee or cold water, and maybe a meal).
I’ll be asking other folks to help, too, like Jackie Scott, maker of the most delicious donuts in the world — she’s given us the goodies to feed exhausted firefighters and hungry cops, and I’ll be calling her now, to ask for more. And Donna Gray, you’ve got a program to recycle plaques for nonprofits…. I could probably use a couple of Total Awards & Promotions trophies to reward tireless volunteers for being ready on a moment’s notice to come to the aid of their neighbors.
Terry Siebert, I bet you know some Rotary friends who could drive a big truck better than I can, and Kathleen Paris, I’m taking you up on your offer to help design a gold standard training program. Elaine Beaubien, would you want to volunteer to train our trainers? Don Madelung, are any of your Herzing students an Access database whiz who could volunteer for an hour to help me tie together primary key tables that have taken me 30 frustrating hours to create? (I need help tying together a relational database.)
Dear reader, if you see these people before I do, feel free to drop a hint that I’ll be calling. And if you can imagine yourself offering your specific talent (even if it is counting cups, which has to be done soon, for inventory), PLEASE E-MAIL ME!
If you see me coming your way, you’d be right, probably, to think I’m either there to interview you for IB or ask you to volunteer for SA, because I live in a blended world where we all live in one great community — and I realize that U are smack in the middle of my commUnity of friends and colleagues.
I might say to you, kinda offhand, like it just occurred to me, “Hey, by the way, would you want to help with a lunch for the Toys For Tots lunch this year? Or hunker down in a secret location to hand out about 400 cups of coffee to cops on Halloween? Know a retired fire fighter who misses the early morning alarm? Or do you know a dentist, maybe, who wants to donate 500 toothbrushes? Want to sit in the shade at Corn Fest? I have a shady canteen where you could hand out cups of water while you do it….”
As you’ve probably already discerned, I’m not the one with all the answers in this new venture. I’m the one with the formalized crisis-response experience, yes, but I’m also the one with most of the questions about how to make the Dane County unit the crown jewel.
And I have to be realistic … I’ll probably only get one or two chances to solicit volunteers in print this year, so while I’m at it here, did I mention that IB really needs interns? We could use about five (unpaid) interns who really want to get solid magazine/web experience — we’re looking for marketing and editorial talent this semester, and we’ll need three this summer. Like I said, it’s sort of volunteer, too, but you do get credit for that, and we do try to make it challenging and fun and not BORING. Who has time to be bored or do boring things?
I don’t have time for BORING. Tick tock, tick tock. I need Bratfest volunteers for the canteen, and a new advisory board for IB. Tick tock, tick tock.
So that’s just how I’m going to do both jobs, Kathleen. Because my staff at IB is so talented, engaged and self-reliant, I can make the time to organize and train a lot of cool civic-minded people who will think outside the box about sharing their contributions and talents. Whether its a retired teacher, an accountant, a soccer mom, or a police auxiliary member looking to broaden an experience base, I’ve got a big truck headed to who-knows-where to do God-only-knows-what, and I’d love to answer a 9-1-1 call knowing I had a full cast of well-trained volunteers from many walks of life.
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