By Laura Smith
About a year ago, I met with Susan Dahle, current president of Village in the Village (ViV) for iced tea at the Bistro. Her pitch was simple. We need you to be president of ViV in 2021 because …well, here’s the problem. It was pretty much because I had been on the board for a long time and everyone else that would even consider being president had already been president.
I must say, I really was not that flattered. However, I understood the problem non-profits have getting volunteers to assume leadership positions,… after all, I had pretty much been on the board of ViV in one capacity or another since shortly after launching.
So, I said yes. Yes, thinking that with the support of the board and our administrator, I’d be able to muddle through a year of meetings, fundraising, strategic planning sessions and a few predictable glitches. Then a pandemic arrived.
Our president Susan Dahle, our administrator Sarah Pastore, and other members of the board stepped up to handle the uncharted territory of a major health crisis. What makes this effort particularly challenging for ViV is that all of our members (including the board) are of the age that places us in the high-risk category of a pretty ugly disease.
We developed best practice guidelines for our members with health and safety as top priorities. We’ve continued to offer rides to necessary medical appointments. We provided members and volunteers masks, hand sanitizer and wipes when needed. We’ve also pushed ourselves and our members to adopt virtual social interactions. We’ve formed clubs and offered lectures, had virtual coffees and social hours. Our goal over the last six months has been to keep Village in the Village meaningful to its members and viable in the long run.
Most of our members agree that we have done a surprisingly good job at making ViV relevant, especially given the circumstances. As I prepare for next year, I see my focus as keeping all of the great programming and services going at the same time as planning for our long-term financial stability.
The founders of ViV knew that the future demands a strong financial base. Our early board was almost scrooge-like in their protection of slim resources. As the years went by, ViV expanded its membership and enjoyed financial support from local merchants. The mission of helping seniors stay in their homes connected to the Corrales community was compelling and the community responded. The robust services and opportunities for social engagement allowed us to build a strong financial foundation.
Nonetheless, the pandemic has obviously made membership recruitment more challenging. Small businesses in Corrales struggle to make ends meet and don’t have the resources they did to support worthy non-profit organizations such as ViV. In addition, ViV has extended membership enrollment dates since we’ve had fewer services to offer. Collectively, these issues have put pressure on ViV’s bottom line.
Therefore, these past few months ViV has worked hard to cut costs. We’ve put our volunteer appreciation and member appreciation activities on hold. However, our costs of doing business haven’t actually changed that much. For example, we need our administrator now more than ever. And we still need to pay for liability insurance, our website and the software that helps us match members requesting services with volunteers.
Pitch: We intend to find a way to continue to help Corrales seniors stay connected. But we need help.
If you or someone you know has considered joining ViV, please do so today! We have more going on than you think and we’re ready to pick up our pace as soon as we can safely do so. If you are a current ViV member, consider renewing early (and often)! And if you are a community member that just wants to help, we have a donation button on our website at http://www.villageinthevillage.org After all, it takes a village.
Thanks for your ongoing support. Pay it forward; you never know when you might need help.