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VANtage: June 2018

Written by nlyons29 on . Posted in Home Page


In my professional career I have learned that change is a constant. With change comes challenges, but also opportunities. I have learned how to overcome the challenges and embraced the opportunities. I have seized the opportunities to engage volunteers in new ways, to elevate their value with-in the organization, and to celebrate their success. What is important during a time of change is communication. Keeping volunteers informed, but also excited about the new opportunities and the direction of the organization.

The June meeting will focus on “Marketing to Volunteers”. We will learn key steps in how to communicate and promote our programs and opportunities to volunteers and the community. I am looking forward to picking up tips in engaging volunteers in the conversation and hearing from our own members on how they market their programs. I hope you will join us for this great networking and learning opportunity and then again in July as we step into the role of volunteers and support the mission of “My Very Own Blanket”.

Terri Gregoroff
VAN Central Ohio President



June Monthly Meeting:
Marketing to Volunteers: Three Key Steps
Thursday, June 21
8:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Mid Ohio Foodbank
3960 Brookham Drive
Columbus Ohio 43123



July 19, 2018 – Give Back Month
My Very Own Blanket-myveryownblanket.org



Have you let your VAN membership lapse? Don’t miss out on professional development that will help take you and your volunteer program to the next level! Purchase your half-year membership today so you can take advantage of all the great programming we’re offering this spring. Not sure of your current member status? Reach out to Membership Co-Chair Liz Solomon at liz.solomon@osumc.edu and she’ll be happy to check for you.

Click HERE to purchase your membership!


VANtage: January 2018

Written by nlyons29 on . Posted in Home Page

VAN – President’s Message, January 2018

Hello from the new VAN Board President

I am excited to be moving into the role of President of the VAN Board. I have been a member of VAN since 2005 when I took my first job in the field of Volunteer Administration. At the time I had just started as a Team Leader for Volunteers at COSI and was embarking on a new career path. I looked for opportunities to grow my knowledge around the field of Volunteer Administration and found VAN as a great resource. With great leadership from individuals like Heather Popio (former Director of Volunteer and Community Resources at COSI and former VAN President), mentorship from Barbara Ludden (former Manager of Volunteer Recruitment and Placement at COSI), and support of the VAN network I was able to grow my career, move up with-in the organization, and earn my CVA. In 2015 I was encouraged to join the VAN Board and took on the role of Membership Co-Chair. To my surprise, I found myself rejuvenated with my participation in VAN and had a new opportunity to strengthening my leadership skills. To me, VAN has been a valuable resource for developing and strengthening my knowledge and skill as a Volunteer Administrator. It has provided me with an amazing network of people that have provided mentorship and has had a positive influence on my career. I am proud to have the opportunity to lead this great organization and provide informative learning opportunities to VAN members and a knowledgeable network of Volunteer Administrators that can make a positive impact in our field and with-in our communities. I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year starting with our Annual Meeting on January 18th.
Terri Gregoroff, CVA
Director of Volunteer Services, COSI


VANtage: December 2017

Written by nlyons29 on . Posted in Home Page


This year, my wife and I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time at our house. We’ve been increasingly responsible for the meal over the last few years, and we decided that instead of bringing the turkey to the guests, this year the guests could come to the turkey. It was a small group, just five of us, but family coming together to enjoy each other’s company and complain about Lions and Browns football is what the fourth Thursday of November is all about.

For me, Thanksgiving is a much more relaxing holiday than Christmas, even with my nervous energy surrounding the composition of the pumpkin pie and the bringing of the turkey. There’s so much more expected around Christmas, and juggling the gifts and the parties and the family expectations has become a consistent stress on our December. There was talk in our house a few years ago about skipping the festivities altogether and flying somewhere warm, just the two of us, but the pull of the familial bonds were too strong.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. At the food pantry, our clients are just as worried about putting together the perfect holiday for their families as I am. I can sometimes see the exhaustion on the faces of the volunteers as they come for their shifts. Not to be too much of a Linus, but have the stresses, the commercialism, and the drive to have the most Norman Rockwell-like holiday driven us to the edge?

This year, I’m striving for a more relaxed holiday. I didn’t add anything new to the light display on the house. I’m not listening to the holiday music on the radio (even though I love Bing Crosby). I don’t even have the tree up yet. Maybe the stress of the season will hit me as we get closer to December 25, but I’m focused on providing a quiet, low-stress holiday season for my family and my volunteers. I hope that however you celebrate the holidays, yours may be warm and peaceful.

Nick Linkenhoker
VAN Central Ohio President


Each year VAN recognizes individuals and corporations that make a profound impact in our community through volunteerism. Please consider nominating an individual or organization for one or all of the categories outlined below.
The deadline for nominations is Friday, December 15.

Mary Merrill Award of Excellence
The Mary Merrill Award of Excellence annually recognizes a Central Ohio professional Administrator of Volunteers for his or her outstanding contributions to the field and the promotion of volunteerism in the community. Any individual who manages volunteers in a public, corporate or non-profit organization is eligible and can be nominated. Self-nominations are also accepted. Mary Merrill Award nomination form.

Corporate Champion Award
The Corporate Champion award recognizes for-profit organizations that promote, recognize, and have a commitment to employee volunteerism. It is presented annually to an organization that demonstrates excellence in community service through volunteerism at all levels of its workforce. Self-nominations are welcome. Corporate Champion Award nomination form.

Executive Leader Award
The Executive Leader award recognizes a high level leader in an organization for their support of their organization’s volunteer program. The nominee respects and values the work of the Volunteer Dept. staff and volunteers, ensures money is available for volunteer program management, and acknowledges the importance of volunteers within the organization. Executive Leader Award nomination form.


VAN Holiday Luncheon
Thursday, December 14
12:00-2:30 PM
1319 Polaris Parkway
Columbus, Ohio 43240

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – time for the annual VAN Holiday Luncheon! All VAN members are invited to attend this year’s celebration which will be held at Marcella’s Polaris.

Each year we choose a different local charity to learn about and support during our luncheon. This year we will be collecting donations for OSU Harding Hospital.



All memberships expired on June 30th. Please renew your membership for 2017-2018 by clicking HERE to visit the VAN website. We have some unique opportunities for networking and professional development lined up for the second half of this year and want to be sure you have continued access to these events and resources.

VANtage: November 2017

Written by nlyons29 on . Posted in Home Page


We spend a lot of time as volunteer managers talking about how we can best recognize volunteers for their great service and dedication to our causes. At the ServeOhio Conference last week, there were a number of conversations about how thank volunteers when paying them isn’t an option. How do you balance the different ways people want to be recognized, how to we pay for recognition, what’s the best recognition gift? All these are important conversations to have, and there aren’t any easy answers. But have you asked yourself lately, how do I want to be appreciated for my work?
That’s what we want to talk about in November as part of International Volunteer Manager’s Day (which is scheduled on November 5, although we’re celebrating it November 9). Even though we’ve chosen this path as our career and we (hopefully) get compensated for doing it, we still want to feel appreciated for what we do. The VAN Awards are one way to recognize ourselves and the people in this field who are doing exemplary work.
This isn’t just about patting ourselves on the back, although that can feel pretty good. It’s about recognizing that volunteer management is an important piece of the puzzle for our organizations, even if our piece of the puzzle isn’t in the news as much as the fundraising successes and the operational efficiencies. By recognizing each other, maybe we can help spread the word that what we do is important, and that our volunteers do great work, in part, because they have fantastic volunteer administrators to support them.

P.S. – The November 9 meeting is early this month, so if you have the VAN meetings saved to a recurring event on your calendar like I do, you’ll need to remember to change it!

Nick Linkenhoker
VAN Central Ohio President


November Monthly Meeting:
International Volunteer Managers Day Celebration
Thursday, November 9
8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Columbus Metropolitan Library
96 S. Grant Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43215

PLEASE NOTE: The November monthly meeting is being moved up one week to Thursday, November 9th from 8:30am – 10:00am, to coincide with the celebration of International Volunteer Mangers Day (November 5th).


“Volunteering has a meaningful, positive impact on your community.” Mary V. Merrill, LSW
As managers of volunteers you support the amazing contribution volunteers make on our community each day. Help us celebrate International Volunteer Managers Day and the impact we make by joining us on November 9th. We will celebrate with a special treat to thank you for your contribution and a celebration of the work of a major contributor to the field of volunteer administration, Mary Merrill. Mary Merrill served as a trainer and author in volunteerism and was an adjunct faculty and co-teacher for Ohio State University’s Institute for Community Leadership. We will share a body of her work and discuss what it means to be an effective volunteer administrator. To cap the celebration we will re-introduce the Volunteer Administrators’ Network awards celebrating our community and the impact we make.


VAN Holiday Luncheon on Thursday, December 14
Time, location, and festive details coming soon!


All memberships expired on June 30th. Please renew your membership for 2017-2018 by clicking here to visit the VAN website. We have some unique opportunities for networking and professional development lined up for the second half of this year and want to be sure you have continued access to these events and resources.


VANtage: August 2017

Written by nlyons29 on . Posted in Home Page



This summer, the mantra surrounding the weather seems to be “if it rains, it pours.” My neighbor, a water drainage engineer (who knew that was a thing?), told me that the worst storm we had this summer was categorized as a 50 year storm. According to him, that giant tunnel they built under Columbus to handle storm water drainage filled up in less than 10 minutes. My cabbages took in so much water so quickly that they literally burst open, splitting into two pieces (the coleslaw that they made still tastes delicious, though). I’ve started to make friends with the squirrels that have taken refuge from the storms on the front stoop.

Many of us have the same “rainy season” of volunteers as well. For me, it’s often summer, when school is over, fall sports haven’t kicked into high gear, and parents are looking for any excuse to kick their kids off the couch before their muscles begin to atrophy. Some think of us as a day care service where a kid can be dropped off for an afternoon, and we’ll find something for them to do. We get big groups that want to come in to the pantry as part of their back-to-school activities. I’m glad people are thinking of us, and I’m glad to have the help, but often it’s more than we’re able to use, especially when we aren’t receiving many large food donations.

That’s what I love so much about participating in VAN. It’s a great way for me to find ways to partner with other organizations, both to see how they utilize volunteers and to see how we can share the load and find volunteer opportunities that engage our community in a meaningful way. It’s also why I love hearing about the reports from conferences like the two that were offered this year. This month, join us to recap the national conferences from the VAN members who attended. Don’t forget, this is the time of year to renew your VAN membership if you haven’t done so already, so you don’t miss out on the fantastic things our team is planning!
Nick Linkenhoker
VAN Central Ohio President


August Monthly Meeting:
Bringing It Back

Thursday, August 17
8:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Mid-Ohio Foodbank 3960 Brookham Dr.
Grove City, Ohio 43123

Bringing It Back Learning is even better when you can share it with others! Let’s face it, we can’t all get to every conference every year. In August, we’ll learn from those VAN members who were able to make the trip over the summer months.



All memberships expired on June 30th. Please renew your membership for 2017-2018 by clicking here to visit the VAN website. We have some unique opportunities for networking and professional development lined up for the second half of this year and want to be sure you have continued access to these events and resources.