Spotlight on TPC Volunteer Days: Ruth Isaacs and an Idea Made Real
This month, I chatted with Ruth Isaacs, who has been TPC’s Volunteer Coordinator for several years. Many of you have participated in Volunteer Days, which provide another important conduit for members to connect with our grantees. Ruth launched the program, which had been an idea waiting for someone to put into action for some time, in November 2017 with the modest goal of one activity per quarter. However, the success was more than modest: TPC had hosted six volunteer events by June 2018.
Volunteer Days are now an in-demand activity for TPC members, due largely to Ruth’s efforts and the input of our Grantee Liaisons, who pass along requests for help. We’ve wrapped gifts, sorted clothes, interviewed prospective hospitality workers, stuffed envelopes, sold t-shirts, helped hopeful potential citizens through the maze of paperwork…the list goes on.
Ruth is now planning to split her time between Boston and Chicago, but intends to remain active with TPC. Leslie Levenson, a newly elected TPC Board member, will assume the role of Volunteer Coordinator. We would like to thank Ruth for her skill and persistence in the “birthing” and excellent stewardship of Volunteer Days (not to mention her involvement with the Development Committee, participation on grant teams, and bringing many new members to our ranks).
Following is a little bit about Ruth and some of her thoughts about Volunteer Days and TPC in general.
Tell us a little about your professional background.
I have an eclectic background, including managing the marketing and public relations for a corporation, owning a communications company, and owning a business that provided management and consulting services to nonprofits. I’ve since retired.
How did you get involved with TPC?
I had moved away from Massachusetts for many years, and returned about five years ago. It was very different from when I left, and it was hard to meet people. At my Pilates studio, I met a TPC member who invited me to a Connect the Dots event. After that, I was “all in.” The concept of women’s collective giving in support of agencies that benefit so many people appealed to me. The fact that my $1,000 could turn into $250,000 was incredibly powerful.
I met Susan Benford [then TPC President] for coffee a few months later, and I have been actively involved ever since. I’m a doer. And once, I’m in, I’m committed. I can’t not throw myself into something 100 percent.
Volunteer Days have really become a part of the fabric of TPC. How did you make the idea come to life?
I had attended several TPC Dialogues, in which grantees discuss how they are solving community problems. There was a lot of enthusiasm from members about what grantees were doing, and a need to connect with them in a more hands-on way. I saw Volunteer Days as an opportunity to dovetail with the Liaison process, fulfilling grantees’ needs beyond financial support and supplies. These events are a way for TPC members to donate their time and talents to the grantees they feel strongly about.
Our members have an impressively broad base of knowledge, skills, and expertise. Volunteer Days provide a channel for donating their time to causes that align with their interests. Volunteer Days benefit grantees, while providing members another reason to stay connected to TPC. Because the grantees are already well vetted by TPC, members looking to donate their time to meaningful organizations don’t need to do any research or search for opportunities – TPC has already done the legwork.
What part of Volunteer Days are you most proud?
Bringing Volunteer Days to life was most rewarding. We received a fabulous response from members, right from the start. We were always able to provide the number of volunteers the grantees requested; in fact, opportunities were usually fully signed up the day after the call for volunteers went out. Sometimes, grantees would also reach out to me with a specific ask for a skill or talent. I was able to connect them with a member who had the expertise they needed, resulting in some great one-on-one connections.
What other roles have you taken on with TPC over the years?
I served on grant teams for my first two years, and I served as a grant screener in my third year. During my fourth year with TPC, I was back and forth to Chicago, so I couldn’t commit to serving on a team again. The grant teams were a wonderful experience. I always felt engaged and committed to the process.
I also served on the Development Committee. Even though I didn’t have any fundraising experience, I was encouraged to serve because I had ideas that others hadn’t thought of. Because I had no historical knowledge of what TPC had been doing, I was able to offer fresh eyes and “outside the box” ideas. I’d always ask questions like, “Why aren’t we doing XYZ?” or, “Why don’t we try it this way?” I also was the point person for recruiting and coordinating volunteers for TPC’s booth at the Massachusetts Conference for Women.
What are your plans for future involvement with TPC?
I will be splitting my time between Boston and Chicago, and I plan to stay involved with TPC as an active member. It’s too soon to say what’s next, but I have a few ideas…