Live blogging from NYI
We are live blogging from the National Youth Institute in Orlando, Florida! If you have any questions or comments, please share below.
Saturday, April 4
WHEW! Sorry for the delay in blogging, but from after lunch until after dinner there were non-stopping sessions. Ever taught five sessions in a day? Don’t try it– but it was an absolute blast. First were panel discussions on various topics. Then was Fundraising 101, an overview of fundraising strategies. As part of that session, participants were split up into “causes” and “foundations.” Causes had to try to convince foundations to give them $100,000 in grant money. It was a wonderful simulation! In our Fundraising 101 workshop, the cause that won was entitled “Positive Influence” and their logo was a blue cross. Not sure our Red Cross branding people would be thrilled with that, but they certaintly were smart enough to know that if they were going to convince Red Cross youth volunteers-turned-foundation directors to give them money, it doesn’t hurt to borrow from Red Cross-inspired branding. :-). A big shoutout to the Augusta Chapter youth program from Georgia for winning the simulation.
photo by Gene Dailey, American Red Cross
After that was Action Planning I, and then at dinner, Matt Maloney from State Farm addressed the participants. State Farm was this year’s NYI Corporate Sponsor, and we thank them for their generous support. Matt spoke about the synergy between American Red Cross youth programs and the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, as well as spoke about how the world is changing at a relentless pace!
Lunch session– during our lunch session, Katie Miller, this year’s Navin Narayan National Youth Speaker, addressed the participants. She gave a moving and inspiring call to action to her peers. Katie is a junior at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, CA, where she serves as president of her high school club and president of her chapter youth program.
We just had our open forum with Gail from 11:15pm – 12:15pm. It was great! President & CEO Gail McGovern spoke to participants for about 20 minutes about her six priorities for the organization, and then took questions. Questions ranged from the technical and focused (“What are the Red Cross’ greatest expenses?”) to the profound and personal (“What line of service is closest to your heart?”). Her answer to the second: all of them, and she gave touching personal accounts how each Red Cross service has touched her life or the life of a loved one in profound and life-changing ways. The talk was inspiring– participants were deeply engaged. Fantastic!!
Oh my, there is nothing crazier than presenting four sessions in the same day! Right now, we are presenting a break-out session for experienced youth volunteers, called “American Red Cross 2.0.” Youth leaders just learned about the American Red Cross structure and organizational priorities, and are currently brainstorming how their experience and strengths can impact these issues within the organization. In a second, we will split them up into groups to share their challenges and solicit feedback and ideas from their partners to strengthen youth programming. It’s been a blast so far, despite waking up at 6:30 AM. Next up: a Q&A with CEO Gail McGovern.
Friday, April 3
From 8:30pm-10:30pm, we had our Friday Night Youth Social! Participants came together to play classic carnival games such as bean toss and putt-putt and meet and great each other. A live band provided music and set the tone for a lively and fun evening. President & CEO Gail McGovern, National Chair of Volunteers Pam Farr, President of Humanitarian Services Jerry DeFrancisco, and Senior Vice President of Health & Safety Scott Conner stopped by to join the participants and take photos! (Gail needs to work on her bean toss, but Jerry, a former long snapper, has quite an arm). It’s late– off to bed– see you again tomorrow morning, when we get into a full day of workshops!
We have a great turnout and everyone is excited and focused on making the most of their experience here. More photos will be added as soon as we can get them to the computer… in the meantime, we are off to a mixer where people can swap great swag from their chapters and youth clubs.
We are about to take the stage for the opening session! There are not too many conferences where you can find a Star Wars-inspired introduction, speeches by senior leaders in the American Red Cross, a 3 minute handshake and volunteers running around in time, blood and money costumes. Do not worry – we will post photos as soon as we can, regardless of how incriminating they may or may not be.
A lot of flights have been delayed coming into Orlando due to inclement weather, but people are arriving and excited! The NYI Opening Session begins at 4:30PM – in just a few hours! In the meantime, NYI participants are enjoying getting to know each other through a variety of icebreakers as well as visiting the pin booth hosted by the “pin lady” – Shirley Powers, a Volunteer Historian for the American Red Cross since 1983. A National Youth Council member just bought a pin with Toto (the dog from the Wizard of Oz) peeking out of an American Red Cross bag. She’s a big Wizard of Oz fan, as you can tell.
What do youth leaders envision for the next weekend? Listen to our NYI Preview.
Raven welcomes you to Orlando, FL!