Christmas story

I love Christmas for all the usual reasons people love it, but especially for the “giving stories” I hear this time of year and the mindfulness that we are our brothers’ — and sisters’ — keepers.  Yesterday, I received an email from a driver who had eaten Christmas lunch with a rider who is in the hospital and who has no family locally.  No details for privacy reasons, but a simple act of kindness I wanted to share with you that makes this job so much more than just about providing transportation.  While ITNBluegrass is a (nonprofit) business providing a professional service, it works because of the relationships that are forged from myriads of conversations in cars that are taking people from point A to point B.  

I love Christmas for another reason, too.  It reminds me that we ought to do our best to keep the spirit and mindfulness of it — and that includes all end-of-year holidays, whatever we celebrate — all year long!  Very best wishes for a wonderful, mindful 2012!  


Day 3 of ITNAmerica’s All-Affiliate Retreat

                                                  Westbrook, Maine

Day 3 ended ITNAmerica’s best affiliate retreat ever with two fine speakers and some interesting breakout sessions!  Elizabeth Isele, Director of Economic Opportunity Programs at The Philanthropy Roundtable, spoke about how to get philanthropists to listen to your (org’s) story and fund it, and Kae Dakin, strategic consultant to leaders and governing boards of nonprofits, worked with us on telling our stories in a way that is compelling for outreach and fundraising success.  We at ITNBluegrass invite member-riders and drivers to tell us your stories on what the service has meant to you and how it has impacted the quality of your life.

Of the breakout sessions, perhaps the most intriguing was a look at version 2 of ITNRides, the system that handles all our ride scheduling, rider and driver information, financial transactions, etc.  ITNBluegrass won’t have it for a while, but new multi-branch affiliate ITNGreaterBoston will be the first to work with it early in the new year.

Also today, Kansas City went from being a pre-affiliate to an affiliate, bringing the total number of affiliates to 19!  Welcome, Kansas City!

Finally, I want to thank the staff of ITNAmerica for making this retreat so worthwhile.  Their hard work was evident in all the details.  We feel blessed to be in such capable hands as we move forward with our important mission of providing safe, dignified transportation to seniors and adults with visual impairments.

Day 2 of ITNAmerica’s All-Affiliate Retreat

Long day today. I got up at 5:15 am thinking it was closer to 6:15 (my wake-up time) — the rain was so loud I couldn’t sleep! Now it’s 11:15 pm and I’m wondering why I said I’d blog each day of the retreat!

Today, we learned about how to incorporate the ITN story and what we do via social media. A social media expert from Portland gave us some great ideas on how to keep people coming back to our sites as well as how to link our social media accounts with ITNAmerica’s, so ITNA can send messages to all the affiliates’ accounts at one time. I’d love to hear your suggestions about how to keep ITNBluegrass’ social media activities fresh and relevant to you!

The final breakout session of the day invited Executive Directors to meet with Faith York, ITNA’s trainer and instructional designer. Faith walked us through an examination of our leadership styles and some of the challenges we may face as EDs. The most effective part of this activity was considering why we do this work because running a nonprofit isn’t easy! The answers were heart-felt and basically boiled down to the love we feel for older people and the great satisfaction of helping them stay active and engaged in the community. Faith kept saying, “It’s such a simple concept [giving rides], but there is such complexity behind it.” It’s because everyone has a story to tell! I look forward to asking our riders in the coming months for their stories and hopefully sharing some of them with you.

Good night!

Day 1 of ITNAmerica All-Affiliates Retreat

As I look around the room, there are representatives from ITN affiliates all over the United States — Portland, ME; Charleston, SC; Greater Boston; Greater Cincinnati; Monterey County, CA; St. Charles, MO; Central CT; and of course, Lexington, KY.  People from Orlando, FL; Sarasota, FL; and Connecticut are expected tomorrow.  All told there are 18 affiliates nationwide with 17 states represented!  There are also four pre-affiliates with two attending the retreat:  ITNPikesPeak (CO) and ITNOceanState (RI).  The ITN family is growing — there were zero affiliates six years ago!

This retreat is dedicated to “telling our story,” and we are learning and discussing different ways to tell that story — video, social media, storytelling in grant-writing and using financials to tell a good story, among others.

We also watched an award-winning documentary called Old People Driving and spoke to the producer, Shaleece Haas, via speaker phone.  It’s a beautifully-done look at the tough decisions older people often have to make regarding driving.  We think the documentary was filmed somewhere in California, but there was certainly no ITN available to these people as an alternative to driving.  We hope to purchase a copy of the film to show to interested groups around Lexington!    More tomorrow, Laura

Hello from beautiful Portland, Maine!

Just flew in last night to attend ITNAmerica’s 4th annual retreat! I’ve been to all of them and the learning is fantastic. I don’t expect this one to be any different. The theme revolves around telling our (ITN) stories and the varied ways we can do that. I’ll start by blogging about the retreat, which runs today through Friday. And no worries: not counting this one, just one post per day!

Because we still have places to go, people to see and things to do…

 This seems an appropriate day to start an ITNBluegrass blog — something I’ve wanted to do for a while now.   Our first ride of the day today (at 6:30 am) was also our 14,000th since we began ride service three years ago!  One of our very devoted volunteer drivers Rick Johnson drove a gentleman to his dialysis appointment, a round-trip Rick does 2-3 times a week.
 It has been an eventful three years.  To go from an untried, untested senior ride service in 2008 to delivering about 600 rides a month is quite a testament to our ride coordination staff, our drivers, our board and the Lexington/Bluegrass community, the latter of which has entrusted us with the privilege of providing safe, dignified and affordable transportation to parents, grandparents, spouses and friends.
I was speaking to a woman this morning who still drives but uses the service when driving isn’t convenient.  She commented that people looking in might think ITNBluegrass is a nice service to have in a community, but that until you actually need rides (or have a family member who does), it doesn’t register how vitally important reliable transportation is in keeping older people active and independent.
We are humbled that more than 250 people with their collective 14,000 rides have decided over the last three years that this service is vitally important to them and use us daily, weekly or monthly because they still have places to go, people to see and things to do.  Here’s to our next 14,000 rides!