Monday, November 24, 2008

Baby Steps... by Sarah

In all honesty, it's been getting a little frustrating the past couple weeks here on the front lines. HIPPY is so fantastic, and would help the community so much, but it's hard to get decision-makers to listen give me the time of day. And I know I could convince them if they would just give me a chance! haha I mean the program really would sell itself if people only knew about it. But anyway, I did get the chance to meet with Heather, the Coordinator over at the Marie Huie Special Education Center in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. I told her about the program and how beneficial it would be to the community and also to the special needs population. She agreed! She told me a few people that I should get in contact with over at the ISD, and she said she'd be glad to help out and serve as an advisory member to our cause! Admittedly, it's a baby step, but at least I'm making some progress :) The more people who believe HIPPY is needed in the community, the more likely it is that we can get something real started, and start meeting important needs in the community.
Yayy for progress!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Into the Wild by Sarah

This past week I attended the Texas HIPPY Kick-Off Retreat in Houston! I had a fabulous time getting to know the HIPPY coordinators, as well as all of our wonderful home instructors. And I learned a lot about each unique Texas HIPPY site and how different they are from one another! It all gave me a lot of ideas on how to market HIPPY and be creative about the different ways it could be implemented. For example, Richardson HIPPY is part of a whole complex, including 4 or 5 other non-profits who serve children aged 0-5. And Richardson Home Instructors not only work for HIPPY, but also for the other organizations (the only one I can remember is Parents as Teachers, but there are others as well) as well. Each program is funded differently (ie: HIPPY through Richardson ISD) but they all share the same employees and work space. Very efficient! And I'm sure it's very convenient for the families served, who can contact one location for all their pre-k/early education needs.

The retreat was also about trying new things. Many of the home instructors had never been camping before, or canoeing, or rock climbing, or any of the other fun things we did. It was a really great bonding experience, and I think we all had an awesome time. I know I did! In our cabins, we had to make a cabin name, and individual camper names. Our cabin was Far Far Away, and we were all Shrek characters (from either of the three movies). I was Snow White... for obvious reasons ;) (because I'm just so darn white... haha) I had some firsts myself: I climbed all the way to the top of the rock wall and rung the bell!! And I also tried archery for the first time, and on my first couple tries I hit the ring around the bull's eye :) Not bad for my first try! I'll get the bull's eye next time ;)

Here are some pictures of me climbing the rock wall!

That's me all the way at the top, ringing the bell! :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Houston, We Have a Problem... by Sarah

So last Wednesday, I got back to Dallas at around 11 AM, planning to head in to the office and get some work done before leaving for Houston Thursday, to attend the Governor's Nonprofit Leadership Conference. Before leaving my apartment, I decided I was going to print out my reservation information and conference confirmation, just so it was ready for the next day. But as I searched my inbox, low and behold!, not a reservation was to be found! Where was I staying? What time was I supposed to be there? Panic set in as I perused the GNLC website and discovered that check in for the conference was WEDNESDAY from noon to 5pm! So after two hours of frantic calls and e-mails, I finally pieced together some semblence of an agenda, and hit the road to Houston, not nearly in time to arrive by 5 pm, but resting assured that it would all be ok.

Despite my troubles and the headache that nagged me well into the 4.5 hour drive south, the conference was actually well worth it! The keynote speaker was fantastic: Heather McLeod Grant, co-author of Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, a book which instantly earned a top slot on my '08 Christmas list. Naturally, the Governor, who was also supposed to speak, became 'unavoidably detained', so we turned our attention instead to a 3 minute generic video clip during his allotted time. The individual sessions were great too- My favorites were the presentation made by Benevon, an organization which teaches nonprofits to create sustainable funding; and one made by a OneStar Foundation rep on creating effective logic models, aptly titled "For Love of Logic Models". Both speakers were very entertaining, and their subject matter very applicable to my mission here with Texas HIPPY. By the end of the conference I was absolutely bursting with enthusiasm and new goals and tactics to take back with me to Home Sweet Carrollton.

Thanks OneStar Foundation for putting on an amazing conference!

Here's a picture of me and Tina at the conference! We were definitely listening to the presenter...

If anyone's interested in learning more about OneStar Foundation, their website is "OneStar Foundation: Texas Center for Social Impact is a statewide nonprofit that improves the lives of every Texan, every day."