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I’m so annoyed!!

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, but I’m annoyed and need to get it off my chest. 

I was on Facebook this morning and saw that my friend, Mike Shaldjian (aka lafinguy), posted a link to a podcast.  The podcast contained John Jay, a local morning show personality, calling Mike a cheater and then (I felt) he insulted the publication that’s promoting him.  

Arizona Foothills Magazine is running a “Best of Our Valley” Poll.  One of the categories is “Top Twitterer.”  I’m proud to say that I’ve been nominated.  To me that’s a huge honor.  I’m no where near the top of the poll and that’s okay.  There is; however, a neck and neck race between John Jay (@JohnjayVanEs) and Mike (@lafinguy). 

I thought it was really cool that Mike pulled ahead of John Jay.  Mike is an awesome guy, well networked and deserving of the title of “Top Twitterer.”  He uses Twitter for what’s it’s for and that’s social networking.  We meet on Twitter and he’s actively supported all the nonprofit agencies I’ve worked for through giving and donating of his time. 

Despite being nominated for two other categories and “crushing” the competition in those categories, John Jay uses his morning show to promote himself and bash Mike’s character. All because he’s not winning the “Top Twitterer” category in the poll.  Seriously!!

I use to listen to John Jay’s morning show.  I use to follow him on Twitter, but I stopped listening and stop following him because he annoyed me.  Both on the show and on Twitter, he would talk about himself ALL the time.  He did not interact with fans and he tweeted about nothing, so I stopped following him.  I think that was over a year ago.

I’m all about healthy competition, but I feel John Jay took it too far and it’s very disappointing.  Mike embodies what social networking is all about.  He’s networking!! Networking is not a one-way street.  That’s called self-promotion (something I feel John Jay does ALL the time).  It’s about interacting and Mike has that down and actually a lot of people on the “Top Twitterer” list have it down.  Way better than John Jay and even more deserving of the title of “Top Twitterer” than him.

 John Jay has over 22,000 followers, Mike has nearly 2,000.  And it goes to show, just because you have a lot followers, it doesn’t mean they’ll go to bat for you.

All in all, please vote for Mike (@lafinguy) in the AZ Foothills Magazine, “Best of Our Valley Top Twitterer” category.  He truly deserves the title.  You can vote everyday until November 30th.    If you feel so moved, you can also vote for me as well @ireneaugustin. (LOL! Throw me a freakin’ bone)

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Before leaving Crisis Nursery, my job was announced.  The announcement was placed on Crisis Nursery’s website, two local job banks and promoted through Twitter.  Within a week and a half, over 90 people had applied to be the next Communications and Marketing Manager for Crisis Nursery.

The candidates ranged from new graduates, nonprofit professionals and individuals who had extensive experience managing large corporate communications or marketing departments. Obviously there is no shortage of qualified individuals.  My supervisor was impressed by the people who applied. Many people have the skill sets to do my job and some of the people have exceptional experience to do the job maybe even better than me.  There’s no doubt that people with skills are out there, but I believe that the three determining factors for the candidate who gets my job are these: 1) a basic understanding of Crisis Nursery and it’s mission; 2) a passion for working with vulnerable populations; and 3) a good fit for the department and organization. 

During these difficult economic times, people are looking for work and considering work in different industries.  I’m amazed at the amount people switching from corporate careers to nonprofit.  I can pretty much say that I am a nonprofit “lifer.”  I can’t imagine working anywhere, but nonprofit.  I’m not going to count out working in other industries, but I love knowing I belong to a career that makes a difference.  Additionally, nonprofit work is never mundane.  Whether it’s working with difficult issues or people or trying to figure out how to fundraise to keep the lights on and the doors open, it’s a challenge and I LOVE IT.

If you are considering a career in nonprofit out of necessity (you will take whatever pays money) or because it’s your heart’s desire, remember there’s more to it than a paycheck.  When you work for a nonprofit, you work for children, men, women and communities who need your services.  Your job is more than just about you. 

With that being said, if you want to truly consider working for a nonprofit, figure out what causes your passionate about and apply for positions at nonprofits whose missions aligns with your interest.  There are many nonprofits to choose from–arts, children, health, community, elderly, education, drug prevention, schools, universities, faith-based and the list goes on and on. 

In your cover letter state why you want to work for these nonprofits. If you have a short personal story of how the nonprofit impacted your life or the life of someone you know, share it.  Getting a job in nonprofit is not just having the skills to do the job.  It’s apparent there are many people out there with skills. But what will set you above the rest is to demonstrate your understanding of the nonprofit, why their work is important and why it’s important to you.

 

“You Stupid Bastard! You cheated on Sandra Bullock?

How in the world can you be so stupid? You are married to one of the most beautiful women in the world; she has a body to die for, and her current wealth and predicted wealth is shadowed only by Oprah, who even Steadman will tell you, isn’t attractive.

But your wife, who recently beat out Julia Roberts in the polls and is now the named “America’s Sweetheart”; you also remember she just won an Oscar (which translates to more money per picture she makes in the future)…while you were shacking with that tattooed freak, who just happens to be a former stripper and is someone’s mommy.

You are really a piece of work! You are the most hated a**hole cheater on the planet! And while the State of California is a no-fault state whereby you may be able to take half of your wife’s wealth, in doing so you would only be hated even more…especially after Sandra’s speech during the Oscars in which she did nothing but praise you. How can you live with yourself after she even cared for your children?

I only have one thing to say to a despicable, miserable, cheating piece of crap that you are:

Thank You!! You really helped to take the heat off of of me. Let’s do lunch sometime and compare notes.

~Tiger Woods”

The author of ‘An Open Letter to Jesse James’ remains anonymous. (courtesy of examiner.com)

This joke is hilarious.  But as I read it, it gets me thinking.

I think Jesse James and Tiger Woods are pretty average looking.  They have celebrity status and money, but if they didn’t have that would women take a second look at them.  In my opinion, I think these guys married very well.  Their wives are very attractive, intelligent and willing to put up with them.  What would possess them to cheat on their wives not only once, but multiple times.  And might I add, most of women were not at all attractive.  What were they thinking?

Now if these guys had no problems cheating on there wives, where does that leave us average girls? 

Cheating doesn’t just happen to celebrities.  It happens to everyday people and it occurs more often than not.  You can find it easily on reality tv or just flip on “Cheaters.” 

I’ll be honest.  I don’t like first dates or new relationships. I don’t get a thrill when I go out on a first date, I’m normally pretty nervous and anxious.  New relationships also kinda freak me out.  I’m more comfortable when I’m exclusively with someone.  I don’t casually date anyone or juggle more than one guy at the same time.  That’s too much work and knowing my luck, I would get them mixed up and call them by the wrong name.  Typically I know right off the bat if I like a guy or not.  If I don’t like them or I feel there’s no chemistry, normally there isn’t a second date.

Serial monogamy is the best way to describe how I date.  I don’t freak out at the idea of spending my life with someone.  I look forward to it.  While I find comfort in monogamy, in the back of my mind, I wonder if it’s realistic.  I don’t like cheaters and I don’t ever want to be cheated on.  I think if my boyfriend wanted to be with someone else. He just needs to be honest with me and break up.  I don’t like being lied to. 

Obviously, a lot of people cheat, but I also think monogamy is not the norm anymore.  Times are so different than they use to be. People are looking to always “spice” up their relationship.  Awhile back, Oprah did a show on swingers.  Really?? I also think that some people believe they have a lot of love to give. I was watching MTV’s True Life and they were talking about polyamorous couples.  What’s up with that? 

Maybe I’m just a simple person, but I’m interested in what others think.  Is monogamy becoming extinct?

Today I officially started clearing out my cubicle at Crisis Nursery.  The moment was bittersweet.  I’m excited for my new position at CASS, but I’m a bit sad to leave my work and awesome co-workers. Looking back, I had an awesome 3 3/4 years at Crisis Nursery.

Over the years, I’ve collected an array of items.  Honestly, I think my cubicle is the cleanest it’s ever been since I’ve started the job.  Scary thought, right?  

I’m not that bad.  I had a big job that required a lot of information and STUFF. While I had a lot of work stuff, I also accumulated a number of personal items.  After carting out a huge box of my personal possessions, I’ve decided that in my next job I will keep my personal possesions to a minimum. To give you a sense of the random things I’ve collected over the years, I offer you a few pictures of the things I found as I cleaned out my office space.

Picture #1:  Frog Mardi Gras Beads

 

Don’t worry! I didn’t show anything for these beads. I’m proud to say that I’ve actually been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and never had to show a thing for beads. 

Anyway, these particular beads I got five years ago at the St. Louis Mardi Gras celebration and I think I traded them for a set of beads I had.  I always liked these beads, so I probably brought them to work to remind me of the fun times partying it up in Da Lou.

Picture #2:  WWE Wrestler Finger Puppet

  

This is just one out of seven toys I’ve collected by purchasing McDonald’s Happy Meals for lunch (I bought it for the smaller portions, not the toys).  I think this character is Triple H.  Anyway, I had in my drawer two My Little Ponies, a Batman toy, Spiderman, Lego Man and an iCarly cell phone lip gloss.  Most of the toys were still unwrapped.

Picture #3:  Orange Fuzzy Dice 

I don’t remember how I got these, but I think they are pretty darn cool. I’m trying to figure out what to do with them.  I don’t want to hang them from my rearview mirror because it would be too distracting  when I drive.  If you have any thoughts, please let me know

Picture #4:  Tennis Racket Magnets 

A donor gave these to me for some reason.  I think she was clearing out her garage and thought I would like them.  I stuck them on my metal cabinet and that’s where they were for nearly two years.

I have many more items, but if I posted them all we would be here forever. Some I’ll take to my new office and some I will probably sell in a garage sale. If you see anything you like, please let me know. 

Good times!

If you are familiar with the term “urban exploration,” you know in most cases it’s illegal.  People who are urban explorers discover normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas like abandoned buildings or other unique places.  While interesting as it may be, this activity could be dangerous and some activities associated with urban exploration could be considered trespassing or violations of local or regional laws which include (but not limited to), invasion of privacy and certain broadly interpreted anti-terrorism laws.

While I find urban exploration fascinating, I’m not an advocate for breaking the law.  So I’ve developed my own  interpretation of urban exploration.  It’s completely legal and a great way to support your local community and economy.

Urban exploration, to me, is going out and exploring your urban surrounding.  If you are looking for something to do, this a great activity for a Saturday or Sunday.  Take a day and hop on public transportation.  Walk through different neighborhoods and get a sense of their community and culture.  Go to an area that you’ve never been to and check out a cafe, museum or boutique.  Pretend you are a tourist and check out the sights.  The idea is simple, but a great way to learn about the unique aspects of the local community.

Before you go out and do any kind of urban exploring, please do some research. While spontaneity is always fun, it’s best not to go into it blindly.  To make sure your day of exploring is fun, always keep in mind your safety. Don’t go to a neighborhood or part of town where your safety might be a concern.   

With that being said, here are some resources to help you with your research.

Yelp:  People just like you review local businesses and happenings around town.  Check it out and see what people have to say.  It can help map out your day of urban exploration.

Foursquare: Follow people who posts where they go.  This can help give you ideas of places you want to explore.  Once you find a new and unique place, check-in.  Share your location with others.

Brightkite:  A simple way to meet new people, keep up with friends and places and enjoy your neighborhoods. 

All three websites can connect to your Facebook and Twitter as well.  So take advantage of these online resources.  And don’t forget to share your adventures 🙂

I have the unique situation of being  both a volunteer and working for nonprofits who utilize volunteers. 

Volunteers are an essential resource for nonprofit organizations.  Volunteer opportunities are also a great way to engage the community and with their help, work to achieve the organization’s mission.  Additionally, when there’s a lack of resources, volunteers help to fill a need. 

Volunteers can be a great help, but they can also be a huge headache for an organizaton.  While many nonprofits appreciate people willing to give of their time, it doesn’t always mean they are always the right fit .  Throughout my nonprofit career, I’ve worked with volunteers who have been a great help, but I’ve also worked with volunteers who have run amok.  It’s critical for nonprofits to capitalize on utilizing volunteers, but people have to realize the relationship needs to be mutual. 

As a volunteer, I value when nonprofits recognize my work and truly listen to my feedback.  The expectation when I give feedback is that my opinions and comments are genuinely being heard.  BUT…they can choose to take my suggestions into consideration or leave it.  I understand that as a volunteer I’m there to help them with their needs.  Yes, I might have suggestions, but they are just that.  Volunteers have to realize that they don’t know the internal processes and why decisions are made.  Policies and processes have been put in place for a reason and as volunteers we need to respect that.

With that being said, I’ve worked with volunteers who do not feel the same way I do.  I think some volunteers feel that if they give of their time they are entitled to make decisions about the programs or nonprofits they volunteer for.  Some go a step further and take it upon themselves to break policies because they think their way is the right way.  Some organizations invest a lot of time and effort in training volunteers on how the organization provides care and services.  If you are going to volunteer, please follow the organization’s policies and procedures and utilize their methods.  It’s there for the protection of you and the people they work with.

Volunteers  are there to fill a need.  If you have a suggestion, feel free to express it, but don’t demand change.  If you feel your not being heard, don’t feel ashamed about leaving an organization.  You may not be a good fit for the organization and the organization may not be a good fit for you.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But remember if you are going to leave, please provide feedback on why you are leaving. And nonprofits, don’t take offense to that feedback.  Learn from it.

Earlier this week, I was part of a panel who presented to the Phoenix Nonprofit Professionals Network.  This group meets the 1st Monday of every month to network, share industry best practices, and support each other in their professional growth and development.  The group chooses the topics for each meeting.  April’s topic was “Special Events:  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. 

I, along with Dianne Rohkohl of Raw Cabbage Design and Robyn Broshears of Auction & Event Solutions, spoke about our experiences with special events.  We took full advantage of the 2 hours and our conversations continued even after the event ended.  For my portion of the presentation, I gave the group a handout of My Top Ten Tips for event planning. 

Special Event Planning
Ten Tips For You!

Special Events can be a great way to engage new supporters and donors; however, events can require a lot of time and planning.  Here are ten tips to help guide you as your plan your next special event.

1. Make sure you have the capacity to plan special events.

It’s important for a nonprofit to make sure they are ready to plan a special event.  Ask yourself some of these questions. 

a. Are special events part of your overall fundraising plan?

It is critical for nonprofits to plan all their fundraising strategies. Special events is just one strategy.  By looking at everything you do, you can determine (given your resources) if special events are a viable option for your organization.

b. Does your Board of Directors support your idea of a special event?

You may have the freedom to plan events; however, it maybe easier to plan your event with your board whole-heartedly supporting it.  Also, your board may help connect you to potential sponsors or underwriters.

c. Who will be involved in planning your event?

Having a ready and willing group will help you tremendously.  The key word is “willing” and communication is important as well.

d. Is special events part of your overall budget?

Funding set aside for your event is nice, but not essential.  It makes planning a lot easier.   

2. Always remember your mission when planning a special event.  

Incorporate your mission at every opportunity.  Some people plan events just for the “fun” factor.  Yes, an entertaining event is important, but remember you have a captive audience.  People are going to your event because they care about your mission.  Use the time you have with them to educate them on what you do and why your nonprofit is important.

3. With your committee, develop a written plan of action and delegate responsibilities.  Additional tip:  double-up on responsibilities.  Helps to keep people accountable and if someone is unable to follow through with their job, there’s back-up.

Your plan of action should include action items, deadlines, who is going to do what and budget.  Writing it down is important so your committee understands what needs to get done and by when so you can all stay on track.  Also, it’s good to have someone who is highly organized to remind people of deadlines. 

4. Utilize consultants when necessary, but remember you get what you pay for.

Consultants can be very helpful.  You can either pay for a consultant or they could volunteer.  Remember:  Volunteers come and go.  Life gets in the way and they have to tend to that.  If a consultant volunteers their time, be aware that they may not always follow through. 

Message to consultant who volunteer:  Treat pro-bono work like you are getting paid.  Follow through on what you say and if you have to leave a project, help to secure a back-up.  Remember your reputation is on the line and people are counting you.

5. Approach businesses and media as partners. 

Never ask for something without providing value in return. State specifically that you’re looking to partner with them.

6. If you are looking for media to help promote your event, plan to contact them 4-6 weeks prior to your event.

Most importantly, develop a PR schedule if you plan to contact the media.  The media can be very useful in promoting your event, but it requires you to plan who you are going to approach and how you do it.

7. Utilize your website and social media to help spread the word about your event.

Social media can be very helpful in promoting your event.  It’s a quick and free way to get the word out.  Post releases on your website and link it to your posts.  After the reader is done with the release they can peruse your website.

8. Don’t forget to say “Thank You”

Always, always, ALWAYS thank your underwriters, sponsors, partners and volunteers.  Thank you’s range from a simple card to a gift or an acknowledgement in a press release or ad in a local publication.

9. Check out other special events.  It’s a great way to pick up tips and potential sponsors for your events.

You can pick up great tips just from attending events.  Also, take a look at the sponsorship lists.  If you see a trend amongst companies who sponsor events, these might be good potential sponsors for your event.

10. Remember…Proper planning will alleviate any headaches and help you to enjoy and grow your special event. 

 

As my closest friends and family know, I’m not that “into” children. Don’t get me wrong. I love children and being around them.  But do I have that “mothering” instinct?  Honestly, I think it’s buried deep, deep, DEEP down inside of me.  

To everyone’s amazement, I’ve worked at Crisis Nursery for over 3 1/2 years.  My boyfriend early on in our relationship asked me, why do you work at a children’s organization when you don’t really like kids?  He said it somewhat joking because he knows I enjoy playing with kids and being around them, but  it did make me think. 

 What I love about Crisis Nursery is that in addition to working directly with children, they also work directly with their parents.  Providing parents with referrals to community resources, encouragement to be an active part of their children’s lives and most importantly support. When their family and friends have turned their back on them or even at times it feels like the community has turned their back on them, Crisis Nursery is there to help them.  Yes, these parents made mistakes, some really bad mistakes.   But at one point people realize they have to change.    They are facing their hard realities and owning up to their mistakes.  What takes real courage is turning to someone for help to make amends and to move forward not only for their sake but the sake of their children.

The people who seek help from Crisis Nursery feel they have no where else to turn to.  Maybe for some reason or another they burnt bridges with their friends and family due to substance abuse or untreated mental illness.  Some find themselves isolated because of domestic violence.  Or some people moved here away from family to seek a better life, but when they arrived here, they were laid off and struggle to put food on the table or a roof over their heads.  The reasons can go on and on, but what remains the same is that Crisis Nursery is there to help.

Many people think if a parent abuses or neglects their child, lock them up in prison and throw away the key.  Yes, I believe there should be consequences for their actions, but it doesn’t mean the memory of the abuse or neglect goes away.  You may see it as breaking news in the media, but when the hoopla dies down these children and their parents keep living.   Their children live with the knowledge of the abuse and the live with this knowledge as they grow up and become adults.  Parents have to live with their actions and live with it until they die.  In a magical world, it would be nice if the effects of child abuse and neglect would disappear once the verdict is made, but that’s not reality. 

Most parents do not intentionally want to abuse or neglect their child.  Abuse happens when stress levels are high.  Given our economy and the difficult times we are all facing, these are the times we are going to see abuse and neglect rates start to climb.  We as a community can prevent another child from being abused or neglected.  Support programs that helps and supports vulnerable families.  Donate and volunteer to organizations like Crisis Nursery.  Or the new organizations I’m working for…Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS).  We work with men, women and children to empower them to end homelessness.   Advocate for programs that help children and families.  With the state trying to balance its budget, cuts have already been made to essential education and human services.  The State is looking to make more cuts to potentially reduce or dismantle these essential services.  Speak up and have your voices heard vulnerable children and families need your help.

I am so tired that it’s even hard for me to type, but I have to get my blog in for the day.  Maybe this weekend, I will get some sleep and feel rested enough to catch-up and write blogs that I can put more thought into.  So here’s another freebie for everyone.  This is a random night of nothingness.  I am going to post the My Top Ten List of Randomness.  These are in no particular order. And I apologize in advance for what I will produce in my slap-happy sleep-deprived state.

10.  Celebrities who cheat on their spouse or significant other making news headlines–Why are cheating celebs news-worthy? I don’t see why celebrities even get married.  They are just going cheat anyway and at this point, it should just be a given that they cheat.

9.  Celebrities who go to rehab after they cheat on their spouse or significant other–Honestly, there’s no therapy/cure for being a dumbass.  And just because you go to rehab, doesn’t mean I’m not going to think any less of you. Well, I really don’t care.  Save your money and just stay out of the limelight. Your spouse is going to take everything you own in the divorce settlement.

8.  Bald People–When I was younger, every Sunday (out of boredom) I would sit in church counting all the bald people.  I went to St. Gerard Magella in Kirkwood, MO and I would count, on average, 25 bald men sitting in front of me.

7.  Farts–Farting is pretty damn funny.  I always have to laugh.  I don’t get disgusted unless the fart is so bad it clears the room, but other than that farts are pretty freakin’ hilarious when someone else does it.

6.  Mullets–Party in the front, business in the back…that’s all I have to say about that. (I’m a poet and didn’t even know…HAHAHA!)

5.  Patti Stanger of Millionaire Matchmaker–She tells it like it is to multi-millionaires who are unlucky in love.  She’s blunt, yet funny and always cracks me up.

4. Ann Coulter–Crazy ass bia bia and I don’t understand why political news channels ask her to serve as a commentator.  Even though I think she’s an idiot, she makes me not only giggle, but laugh out loud at her stupid comments.

3.  Hamsters–They are so cute.  I had about ten of them after I graduated college.  Binky was one of my hamsters who jumped out of his cage and made it into the wall of the apartment I lived in when I was 22.  My landlord lived next door.  I heard scratching in the walls and the next day I had a notice on my door saying the exterminator was coming around.  Needless to say, I never heard scratching on the walls again. RIP Binky.

2. iCarly–I know I’m old, but I don’t mind watching iCarly on Nickelodeon.  What can I say?  It’s entertaining.

1.  Crime Shows–I am fessing up.  I have an addiction to crime shows like Law and Order and CSI.  I can watch hours of the Law and Order marathons on TNT and USA.  These shows have warped my mind.  Every time I see a garbage bag on the side of a highway, I think to myself “there’s probably a body in there.”

Yes, it’s very random, but please don’t hold any of this against me.  I’m tired!  And I’m going to bed.  Please come back tomorrow, I promise I will have a much better post.

My last trip out of town was less than a week and a half ago; however, I am so ready for another vacation.  My last day at Crisis Nursery is April 14th.  I’m taking a short break before I start my new job at CASS on April 19th.   Once I start CASS, I can’t take any vacation days until after my 90 day probationary period.  Wow!! How will I survive?

While I’m excited to start my new job, I am tirelessly working to wrap up any loose ends at Crisis Nursery.  I don’t know if 2 1/2 weeks is enough time to get it all done, but I’m doing my best to leave my position in good standing.   Even though I will have to put any vacation plans on hold, that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about my next adventure.

Ideally, I love vacations where I can just take my time and walk around to explore my surroundings.  I typically love cities where it’s easy and safe to get around by public transporation or on foot.  Recently, my boyfriend and I visited San Francisco and had an awesome time.  I know for our next trip we are looking into cities that we can take our time and enjoy exploring.  The following is a list of places we would love to visit next:

New Orleans

New Orleans

Portland
Portland
Austin
Austin
Seattle
Seattle
Denver

Denver

My boyfriend and I are always looking to add to our list, so help us out.  Please comment and give us more ideas.  I’m not sure where we will go next.  I think we might just have to put all our options in a hat and pick randomly. Hmmm???