October 02, 2012
In July, staff at the office here led two webinars/trainings on Building Member Involvement. They got good response from participants and we planned to continue offering two sessions each month, trying to reach members in as many chapters as possible. In our view this is a very high priority since the only way for VFP to grow is through our chapters’ growth.
So here it is the first days of October and you may wonder why you have not heard of more sessions being scheduled. It is a sad tale of technology trumping human intention. In evaluations of the trainings we received complaints of poor sound quality. When we listened to recordings of the sessions it was clear that we needed to find a fix.
The convention intervened and then Mike and Shelly began a couple of weeks of researching and testing various webinar services. We tested various kinds of microphones and headsets in combination with the various services. It finally seemed that we found a good service and simply did not have adequate bandwidth available in the office to provide good sound.
Any of you who have called the office in recent months know that the quality of our voice over internet phone service has deteriorated significantly, too. So began a two week process of troubleshooting with AT&T and with the internet phone provider. As my mother says, I became ‘educated beyond my intelligence’ in reconfiguring the ports on our router, upload & download speeds, AT&T’s tedious call and line testing process, bridging modems and routers.
This last process resulted in our losing all phone and internet connection and a full day of scrambling to get back to where we started! When a technician came out he found that the router we were told to buy cannot be ‘bridged completely’ and was convinced that bridging would not make a difference anyway. By the time he left the new router was back in its box, apparently useless.
Luckily, Shelly has worked at AT&T and knows that another company in the area offers internet service on a different kind of cable that provides significantly more bandwidth. So this Thursday that company will install internet service in the office. Hopefully all our devices will connect smoothly, we’ll have better phone service, can test the new webinar service and by next week can finally announce a schedule of trainings.
As is often the case, for these weeks technology has been a tease, offering the vision of bringing people together from around the country for a simultaneous interchange and learning – but leaving the vision just out of reach. At least at this point hope remains strong and we eagerly anticipate success!
September 18, 2012
I am still experiencing re-entry after another week spent with many of you at the annual VFP Convention in Miami where we were honored to hear and to be lifted by the prophetic voices of Alice Walker and Roy Bourgeois. Now, it is time for me to come back to Earth, to get back to my responsibilities at my VFP desk … dialing phone numbers, leaving messages and when the timing is good, hearing your stories.
At the VFP banquet Ms. Walker wondered aloud about those veterans who had been compelled to commit and/or witness horrible acts against other humans and as a consequence are now comitting suicide at unprecedented rates. “What if I remained human having done unhuman things … what if I still had a conscience?” She reminded us that only after learning about the horror suffered at Nagasaki and Hiroshima was revolutionary Peace Veteran Howard Zinn prompted to see clearly the inhumane acts in which he had participated. Ms. Walker concluded, addressing the troubled veteran, “Stay with us … wait till dawn, and read Howard Zinn.” I would add … read Howard Zinn's life as well as his books. Be a Peace Veteran.
VFP Member Kris Kristoferson asks “Why me Lord? What have I ever done, to deserve even one, of the treasures I've known?” Near the top of my list of Blessings, I place my professional association with Veterans For Peace and my personal relationships with so many of you. I will be calling on YOU, soon. In the meantime, “Stay with us.” Call me … I can be reached at 512-629-3812.
September 11, 2012
Hi all – Though I have written professionally in many different capacities, I can say that this is my first ever blog post. I am happy to have another avenue of communication with which to reach out to our chapters and individual members as fundraising for a national organization should never be a singular effort and additional voices, ideas and energies are welcome.
Each post from me will try to touch on different aspects of the development and fundraising effort taking place on behalf of VFP. If you find you have questions, ideas or suggestions about any given topic, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to answer all questions quickly and am always willing to have a conversation if you would like to chat about a prospective idea for your chapter or national fundraising efforts.
As many of you may know, VFP tries to secure funds in a variety of ways, one of which is private foundation dollars. We have been fortunate to secure funding from an array of foundations, ranging from local community foundations, family foundations and foundations whose primary mission is to promote peace or activism efforts. However, many funders are a “one-shot deal”….after one or two gifts, we cannot apply again. That means we are always looking for new funders and individuals with contacts at foundations. If you have contacts at a foundation in any part of the United States, no matter how big or small, we would welcome an introduction and the opportunity to talk about the mission and work of Veterans For Peace. That introduction may open a very important door for us and your help in this effort would be greatly appreciated.
I would really like this blog to be an open line of communication, so please send me your comments and ideas. Thanks everyone…we’ll talk again soon.
August 31, 2012
Over the past couple weeks, the Membership Committee has been discussing the potential of developing campus chapters within VFP. In fact, it was pointed out during the last committee meeting that over the past three years, VFP members in San Diego Chapter #91 have been slowly building a VFP presence on one of the local community college campuses: San Diego City College. This all started when one of the members in the chapter, who was also a student, volunteered to start working with students and faculty. With the help of Chapter #91, a student veterans group was modeled after VFP, adhering to the National Statement of Purpose. Now, the group is officially recognized by Student Affairs as a campus group. During the first weeks of September, Rush Week, the chapter will recruit veterans on campus, and afterwards, will apply for official chapter status with VFP.
Reaching out to student veterans is a great way to bridge the gap between veterans across generations. There is a huge opportunity for growth within VFP as we connect with active duty and returning veterans from the current wars. Additionally, this is a way to get a fresh, new perspective within the organization by involving students while providing a network of veterans for the students to tap into. The formation will be only slightly different compared to the formation process for chapters currently. In reality, this will take minimal effort on the staff to implement. The chapter coordinator is working with the San Diego student group now to create a toolkit for other student groups to model, which should be completed before Spring Semester 2013! Be sure to check the "Start A Chapter" tab to find out more about starting a campus chapter as details unfold.
August 24, 2012
Once again this year, everyone who was able to participate in VFP’s convention in Miami found it a great opportunity for renewal of mind, heart, conviction and commitment. It is a privilege to gather with people of the quality of our members.
After the convention, people contacting the office will often say, “Have you recovered from the convention?” or something to that effect. It is true that preparing for the convention is a major effort for the office staff as well as the hard-working convention committee. Yet it amuses me just a bit, the idea that there is a letdown after the convention. Instead there is just a change.
For some of us there are lots of follow up contacts and conversations to pursue. There is a lot of bookkeeping, billing, paying bills to pursue. And we launch almost immediately into preparing candidate information and ballots for the Board election. Detailed information on candidates and issues must be prepared and posted to the website. A companion mailing and ballot is required to go out within 6 weeks of the convention. Board members are involved in preparing much of this material and a lot of careful coordination is required.
This year the ballot mailing is especially interesting because for the first time it allows all verified veteran members to vote on By Law changes and Resolutions. We look forward to seeing how members respond to this opportunity.
August 17, 2012
It is not unusual for us to hear the question, “What does the national office do??” Truthfully, there are days when we ask ourselves! It is not entirely rare that 2 or 3 hours into the day Shelly or I will say, “Well, now I can get started with my work!” We can spend that much time responding to phone and email requests from members that range across the board of VFP life. After four months in the office, Mike Reid is still saying, “I just can’t get a handle on all this email.”
Some outside the office have responded to this as a problem to be solved. I don’t see it that way. I think it is valuable that we are able to have as much timely interaction as we do. In fact, in the office we are more likely to feel the dearth of contact, to feel we don’t have a full enough sense of what is happening in the many chapters. Our most reliable news of chapter work comes from VFP newsletters and in news coverage that shows up in Google. Even at that, the view of VFP’s presence across our country can be pretty stunning.
This spring when we were developing the new website one of our goals was to share the chapter view of VFP as much as possible. That’s why we have chapter news and the media feed on the front page, why we have created a web page for each chapter, why we have begun asking for monthly contact and activity reports from chapters.
A lot of what the national office (and your hardworking Board) does is mundane but if it helps any of us achieve a sense of the whole of who VFP is, how VFP is and how we can become better, we have been successful. IMHO. (In my humble opinion.)
VFP National Office in St. Louis
Veterans For Peace
Affiliates & Projects