How could it be? DRI2012 is but a week away. Volunteer Day, which has met an amazingly enthusiastic response, is right around the corner (a mere Clyde’s Corner away – sorry couldn’t resist). Honestly, I had my doubts about doing a weekly column for the e-newsletter, seemed like a daunting task. As it turns out, it’s been a lot of fun, and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Next week, I will bring you Clyde’s Corner from New Orleans – the heart of the conference and the soul of our volunteer effort. The week after, I will provide a post conference update. And almost that soon the excitement will fade, the enthusiasm, education, and joy of the conference will be a fond memory. And with luck, Clyde’s Corner may reappear from time to time.
Volunteer Day, which was a mere twinkle in my eye some nine months ago, is now almost a reality. We finally get to swing a hammer, package some food, and give back with compassion and genuine caring. Almost 80 of you will provide your gift of time and energy. Your willingness to donate your muscle and good will is very much appreciated. We have so much in store for all conference attendees, and our volunteer corps will be starting the party a few days early. To all those who are volunteering, please remember to check for updates and instructions sent to you via e-mail.
So what have we learned in the last several weeks? New Orleans is a place with many faces. The beauty of the Garden District, the grittiness of Bourbon Street, the many types of music and food, the festivals, the shopping, the great outdoors, the people, and the charm. New Orleans has a little something for everybody. Whether you want quiet and serene or brash and loud, it’s there for you. If you want a tranquil stroll along the Mississippi or a bawdy night of music and dancing, New Orleans provides the appropriate opportunity. If heart wrenching blues is your thing or the mellow, sweet sounds of Jazz, New Orleans has it all. If you crave a big delicious steak or a bucket of crawfish, New Orleans serves it up. If a horse drawn carriage is calling you or if you’d prefer the St. Charles Avenue Street Car, New Orleans makes it happen. If you want to sit in a small café and enjoy a coffee and beignets or if a big Nawlin’s breakfast is calling you , guess what? New Orleans has you covered. If you are thinking about visiting a haunted house or doing a cemetery tour, New Orleans is the place. If museums are your thing, New Orleans has plenty. If you’d like to stay in the fanciest of hotels or a charming romantic B & B, the choices are many.
New Orleans can be intoxicating – the sites, the sights, the sounds, the aroma of great food, the charm and humor of the resilient people who live there. Let New Orleans overwhelm you with pure enjoyment. Let the conference fill you up with ideas and creative ways to make your programs stronger. Let the volunteer day fill you with a sense of genuine satisfaction. Be prepared to get to know your fellow conference attendees. Allow yourself to be open to new ideas, new friendships, new music, new food, and a brand new conference. Let this conference be on your “must do” list each year. And while you’re at it, make volunteerism your passion and commitment in the days and months ahead.
I look forward to meeting you all. Please take the time to say hi to me in the Big Easy. Have fun and enjoy learning from the smartest and most accomplished in the business.
All the best,
Disaster Recovery International Foundation
Director of Volunteerism and Vice President
p.s. I’d be remiss if I didn’t send a special shout out to Melissa Smith, Monica Fedor, Penny Dorr, Angela Devlen, and all Volunteer Day supporting cast and committee members. Thanks you guys! In amongst all the conference planning and DRI International work you do, you helped to steer the volunteerism ship! Your efforts, sensibility, practicality, counsel, and incredible dedication and hard work got us to the goal line. Now the rest is up to y’all – the volunteers!