In my role at The Alaska Community Foundation, I am part of the team of dedicated staff supporting our community Affiliates. The dedicated Advisory Board Members lead an all-volunteer effort to grow community philanthropy in their hometowns across the state. They are busy people. Often juggling full-time jobs, families, spouses, partners, and other community commitments – on top of their leadership for the local Affiliate. But, as I work with each community, I am continually inspired and reminded of why this work fulfills something deep within my heart. Often, the inspiration appears in ways that are completely unexpected.
Several weeks ago, I joined the Advisory Board of the Kenai Peninsula Foundation (KPF) for their semi-monthly meeting. They meet every month, but alternate between meetings focused on “advisory board” level items and a more intentional work session – sort of a “roll-the-sleeves/let’s get busy” meeting. It is a creative meeting arrangement that works well for their community and the members of the Advisory Board.
I called in from my office in Anchorage, while the KPF Advisory Board members huddled around a speaker phone in the office of the Kenai Watershed Forum. The agenda included the usual range of items – a review of old business, a treasurer’s report, a discussion of upcoming events and planning for a community presentation in November. They are a focused and thoughtful group. The chair – Stan Steadman – led a lively meeting and a discussion that elicited comments and input from all members of the group.
They explored ways to broaden their reach in Kenai, Soldotna, and the neighboring communities of the Kenai Peninsula. They discussed strategies to bring aboard new community members to serve on the Advisory Board to more fully represent the rich diversity in their community. All in all, it was a good and productive meeting.
Then, they got to an item that I glossed over when I first skimmed their agenda – Board Comments. Like many of our Affiliates, this topic is often on the agenda near the close of the meeting. What happened next, took me a little by surprise.
Stan spoke first
I feel like we have some positive momentum! I’m feeling good.
Someone else chimed in,
That’s what I like about this board – we all make a commitment!
Followed quickly by,
We all bring strengths and support around our weaknesses!
Then, things started to happen much quicker than I could write down…
Really great things are happening! I love our collaboration!
We brought on some ‘new blood’ and we got a great shot of energy!
We’ll find a way! We’ll find a way! We’ll find a way!
Before they knew it, I think every advisory board member chimed in with a powerful affirmation of why they are inspired to volunteer for the Kenai Peninsula Foundation and give back to their community. I was buzzing with excitement and could feel their enthusiasm through the phone line!
They invited me to share any final comments and I simply thanked them for allowing me to participate in their meeting. The meeting adjourned and they all carried on with their day.
I – on the other hand – wandered around the office to process what just happened. I felt like I had witnessed a powerful display of community leadership, commitment, and passion that left me restless with motivation and inspiration.
Although this meeting happened several months ago, I still look at my frantic notes scribbled in my spiral notebook and am reminded of the spontaneous wave of positivity that took me for a ride that afternoon…
To the members of the Kenai Peninsula Foundation – Thank you! Thank you for all that you do in your community and for allowing me to join you in this journey.