My name is Blaine Flanders, and I started working for Tedford Housing in the heat of July. As the Community & Donor Relations Coordinator, I am responsible for Tedford’s marketing, development, events and volunteer engagement.

Starting a new job during a pandemic makes for hurdles that no one could foresee. I’ve had to finagle times for staff meetings, while simultaneously working from home a majority of the time and rotating time in the office. I took a tour of Tedford’s houses, but I had to minimize contact with staff and guests, all while walking around their place of rest. Although these seem like no big deal, COVID-19 has changed the way work is done. It boils down to consistent effort and open lines of communication between staff that has given me a good stepping stone in this position. Diving into a job during a pandemic that is so heavily focused on community engagement and building relationships has been an unreal undertaking. However, it is possible with clear, organizational direction and self-driven hard work.

Last week, I announced the need for Tedford Housing’s Meal-A-Month program through our media platforms and have engaged our current volunteers in an updated information release. Tedford Housing’s Meal-A-Month is a volunteer-executed program to provide dinner meals to our adult shelter guests every evening. It was nice to engage with current volunteers, as well as thoroughly learn about the program. Volunteers cook meals for our shelter guests and deliver the food to the adult shelter. Tia Gregory, one of Tedford’s shelter attendants, works hard every week to schedule volunteers, ensuring that meals are being delivered every evening by 5:30 pm. I explain the program in its entirety to emphasize the complexity of its moving pieces to get the job done.

My time at Tedford Housing thus far has been a heart-warming and engaging experience. Tedford builds a rich sense of community by enriching others’ lives every day. This in turn creates a positive working environment that would put a smile on anyone’s face every time they stepped into the office. Tedford Housing’s mission is to empower people to move from homelessness to home. This mission statement drives everything our staff does, from entering data into a database for funding, to sorting items in preparation for someone moving out of the shelter.

Undoubtedly, donor engagement will be different this year due to COVID-19, however, I plan to engage to the best of my ability and thank every donor. Each donor is important, no matter how large or small the donation, and I believe should be treated as such. As a new staff member to Tedford Housing, I am making it a part of my personal mission to thank each donor personally. It is my goal to engage with donors and bring their support to light, as we would not be able to facilitate our mission without them.

Blaine Flanders is the Community & Donor Relations Coordinator for Tedford Housing. Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community. 

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