THE IMPORTANCE OF NETWORKING TO EXPAND THE AFTERSCHOOL MEALS PROGRAM AND FEED MORE CHILDREN

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the 4th Annual Sector Forward Conference hosted by the Institute for Nonprofit Innovation and Excellence (INIE) in Tallahassee. The conference brought nonprofit leaders together to share ideas and strategies for advancing social innovation. Since most of our recent efforts focused on South Florida, I was looking forward to attending the conference and getting the lay of the land for nonprofits here in Tallahassee and the Big Bend area. 

 

On the first day, I attended the Children & Families Collab Lab, which provided an opportunity to get to know other organizations focused on children and family issues through a sort of speed-networking set-up.  I met representatives from the City of Tallahassee youth engagement program and the county health department, the director of a smart-play preschool, an advocate for the establishment of a children’s services council in Leon County, the director of an at-risk afterschool program, and several other nonprofit executive directors and staff.   

 

On Day 2, I attended the keynote speaker’s presentation focused on his belief that the majority of the world’s problems can be solved in two hours or less. THAT was interesting! The rest of the day was spent attending several workshops including Fire Up! Your Leadership: Be a Hero to Your People presented by Snowden McFall, FiredUp!Case Study Panel: The Need for Social Entrepreneurs – When Societal Solutions Meets Business moderated by Michael Campbell, Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, and Leadership Panel: Heroic Leaders Tell All moderated by Snowden McFall. 

 

At the 4th Annual Sector Forward Conference I made many new contacts, learned about leadership and nonprofit management, and enjoyed the keynote speaker presentation.  The best and most rewarding part, though, was that I was able to connect a nonprofit afterschool program serving at-risk children with an Afterschool Meals Program sponsor. Before our discussion, the afterschool director had never even heard of the Afterschool Meals Program, but passionately described how she witnesses the effects of hunger on her children every day. She was nearly brought to tears when I told her that she could potentially feed these children a five-component “supper” each day and be reimbursed 100% for doing so.  

 

After the conference, I facilitated a call between the director and a representative from the sponsor agency.  We are hopeful that the kids attending this afterschool program will start receiving meals this month.   THAT is why I LOVE this job! 

 

- Katie Williams

Chief Operating Officer

Florida Impact to End Hunger

 

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