August 24

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Small Non-Profit Experiences Transformation and Sponsors End-of-Summer Fun

By Levia Rodriguez Shepherd

In a big global company, sometimes the word “transformation” gets a bad rap; employees may start to get nervous about reorganizations and culture changes that usually come under that umbrella term. However, transformation usually brings with it enhanced ways of working, gains in efficiencies, and cost savings. And it does not always mean downsizing. In fact, at East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI), their rapid growth over the past 4.5 years influenced CEO David Reese and Board Chair Barker French to reach out to GSK for a Pulse Volunteer to help them manage their organizational growth, success-to-date, and growing pains.

That’s where I come in. As a GSK Pulse Volunteer and Organization Development Consultant for EDCI, I am focusing my time and energies on three primary areas: 1) continuous improvement; 2) organizational effectiveness; and 3) scalability. As an added bonus, I get to work with 20+ dedicated professionals who are supporting the more than 700 families and children in the “EDCI Zone” by identifying support and services available to them from more than 20 partner organizations to help these children be successful inside and outside of the classroom. The goal is to help them be college or career ready by the time they graduate from high school.

It is a lofty goal and can be challenging as well, but the team at EDCI made up of Partner Engagement, Community Engagement, and Parent and Youth Advocate professionals has the collective experience, education, and skills needed for the challenge. My added bonus is that I, too, get to engage with these families and children during the many community engagement events EDCI sponsors, including the monthly Parent Advocacy Committee (PAC) meetings, the recent end-of-summer community celebration (think small-scale block party with hot dogs, watermelon, free books and puzzles, games, and lots of fun), or the daily visits from families and children to the EDCI office to inquire about their services.

This week, the EDCI staff will all come together for a two-part workshop I have put together for them focused on continuous improvement. At GSK, many teams have been successful at leveraging key lean sigma, change management, and project management techniques and tools. I am bringing a sampling of this to EDCI and am going to facilitate a series of workshops where they can take some time to collectively discover enhanced ways of working. The key focus of the initial workshops will be on eliminating wastes. What is waste? According to GoLeanSixSigma, “Waste is any step or action in a process that is not required to complete a process successfully. When waste is removed, only the steps that are required to deliver a satisfactory product or service to the customer remain in the process.” In this case, the customer could be the many EDCI families and children, or it could be a partner school, or even a partner organization. This will be part of the challenge for the EDCI team to determine, and have some fun along the way.

Recently, during the end-of-summer celebration, I was able to engage with the EDCI community personally by helping set up tables and chairs, greet external partners and volunteers, and even take a shift at the face-painting table. There was a continuous line of children anxiously awaiting their turn for a “mariposa” (butterfly), “fútbol” (soccer ball) or other fascinating designs painted on their cheeks. Little did they know that it was my pleasure to serve them in this humble capacity.

 

End-of-Summer Celebration 2015

Photos courtesy of Kristina Heredia, EDCI Communications Coordinator

 

 lunch is served_croppedlunchbowling_cropped

 The EDCI families and children enjoyed a buffet lunch, bubbles, bowling and even learning about vegetables at the End-of –Summer Celebration

.EDCI End of Summer Celebration

wonder wheel UNC TV

The UNC-TV station provides a “Wonder Wheel” for kids to spin and win books about popular characters like Curious George, Arthur and Big Bird

Face Painting

Props at the photo booth and face painting generate lots of smiles!

photo booth

In this photo, the Shepherds House United Methodist Church where the EDCI office is housed (on the third floor) serves as the backdrop to the KaBOOM playground now called Cherry Grove Park (as named by community members). Back in May 2011, the playground was built in one day with the help of over 300 East Durham community residents and volunteers. It provides a safe and fun play area for the community. Little did EDCI know they would be moving into the church, which owned the land on which the structure was built.

In this photo, the Shepherds House United Methodist Church where the EDCI office is housed (on the third floor) serves as the backdrop to the KaBOOM playground now called Cherry Grove Park (as named by community members). Back in May 2011, the playground was built in one day with the help of over 300 East Durham community residents and volunteers. It provides a safe and fun play area for the community. Little did EDCI know they would be moving into the church, which owned the land on which the structure was built.