Volunteer Center McHenry County expands training opportunities

McHENRY – Rebecca Stiemke has worked for Volunteer Center McHenry County for more than 10 years, and she’s seen a lot of people come and go.

“There’s a lot of turnover,” said Stiemke, the center’s executive director. “I think a lot of that is because people don’t get training and they get frustrated and move on.”

She hopes that a new series of education boot camps, part of the center’s expanded training offerings, will help address that problem. The center partnered with the McHenry County Community Foundation to offer the six sessions.

“We both saw needs in the community,” Stiemke said. “We had individuals approaching us about how do we do this, how do we do that. The foundation had people coming to them, and we had people coming to us.”

The boot camp sessions are specifically designed for newer or startup nonprofits, said Mary Jo Lucas-Healy, the center’s professional development coordinator.

They’ll cover fundraising; building a board; understanding financial reports, legal and regulatory requirements; and how to start up a nonprofit.

“Each one of them will be different,” she said. “These training workshops will be very hands-on so participants will be given tools and information and suggestions on additional resources available to them for free.”

Lucas-Healy, who has been in her position a year and half, has found some of the training offered, in particular a recent session on how to get the most out of social media, helpful.

She plans on using social media to expand the center’s reach, growing the base of non-McHenry County nonprofits that have turned to the Volunteer Center to offer affordable training.

Training in Chicago can be costly, not just in terms of the training itself, but the added cost of transportation and food, Stiemke said. It also means a whole day away from the office.

“Many of our nonprofits are stretched and cannot attend expensive training events in Chicago, Milwaukee or Madison,” Lucas-Healy said. “We want to bring in dynamic speakers for our nonprofits at a reasonable cost.”

Volunteer Center McHenry County is a nonprofit based out of the United Way McHenry County’s office in McHenry. While the center is a separate entity, it receives funding from United Way.

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