2014 Blaine House Conference on Service and VolunteerismOctober 20th, 2014
Last week I had the great pleasure of representing Curtis Memorial Library at the annual Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism. This year’s theme was Service: The Art. The Magic. The Impact.
I attended a number of sessions in hopes of bringing back both the tried and true practices that have had success elsewhere as well as new ways of doing things. The sessions focused on technology as a means of managing volunteers, benefiting from a relationship with a college or university, developing my skills as a new leader of our volunteer cohort and marketing our vibrant volunteer community. In each session, I was able to learn from leaders in their fields. I am confident that over the next few weeks and months, as I digest everything I learned, I will be able to adopt the parts that best suit the Curtis Volunteer Community.
The Key Note Speech was amazing. Director of the Franklin Project, Jason Mangone, introduced us to his work and how the Franklin Project can help shape generations to come. ”The Franklin Project is an effort to improve citizenship by giving every young person in America the opportunity to do a service year. Sometime between the ages of 18 and 28, the young person would do a fully paid, full-time year of service in one of an array of areas from conservation to education and everything in between. These young people will do good work and solve problems. But the real product is better young Americans.” http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/franklin-project
Hearing Jason speak about where American was 100 years ago, where we are now and how we can shift our priorities and focus for the better was inspiring. The Franklin Project aims to make giving back, volunteering, service to a cause attainable to everyone. Not only will the community be better for receiving the service, the participant will have gained, skills, connections and experience. Whether they are going on to high education or embarking on a career, they will be better because of their year of service.
Of course, this is all well and good in theory but not remotely practical without a shift in thinking by students, employers and funding sources. Major changes will need to happen to allow this dream to become a reality, but I am encouraged that influential people are having this conversation; that service is valued and encouraged.