We are excited to introduce you to three new staff members at NeighborLink. Our operations have nearly quadrupled in the past 4 years as we continue to keep up with the organic growth that's taken place. NeighborLink started in 2003 as a leaderless organization by a group of volunteers and ran for almost a year before staff was added. The first employee, Susan, went from volunteer to part-time director and not only helped solidify the organization, but helped it grow for those critical first few years. In 2008, I became the second executive director and operated as a sole employee for 6 years before expanding our staff to two when we hired Jeff Shatto. Since 2012, we've been trying to find the right people to join our staff to help us work with so many great volunteers as well as help position us for growth. In 2017, we added Derrick Smith as a part-time grant coordinator and assistant project manager.
The projects are hitting the website in record numbers (2230 in 2017), the volunteers are increasing (80 to 120 different groups in 2017), and local foundations and donors are supporting our mission is sustainable ways ($125k in grant funding in 2017), which has led us to the position of being able to hire three additional staff people and see Derrick go from part-time to almost full time.
We've struggled to keep up with the amount of projects coming in and the amount of volunteers looking to get involved. It's all we've been able to do to keep up with those volunteers, which means we've left a lot of you that have gotten involved over the years unattended too. If you've not been able to mobilize yourself or stay on our radar, we've not given you the opportunities to learn nor had us follow up with you. For that, we're sorry and we want to serve you as volunteers better. We care more about relationships than projects, but projects have a way of consuming our attention and distracting us from not only getting more volunteers, but helping form better volunteers.
So, expect more interaction, more opportunities to receive training, or to learn what it looks like to be a better neighbor. We're learning every day and want to create more opportunities to learn alongside and from you. Our vulnerable neighbors need you and we want to make sure you have all you need to help in terms of support, opportunity, and resources. These three new employees are here to help.
Thank you for your continued support the past 10 years that I've been ED. We're excited for 2018 and beyond. I'm grateful to work with this team to fulfill our mission of "Practical, neighbor-to-neighbor expressions of God's love."
Megan Chandler, Operations Coordinator
Megan joined the NeighborLink staff in early 2018 to help manage the day-to-day office operations and take on small-scale projects that are vital to growth and stabilization of the organization. Megan studied business and international studies at IU, and she has 10 years of residential development experience in Chicago, and with other large-barrier markets. Megan brings an energetic heart and comprehensive, big-city understanding of training and neighborhood development that will help strengthen the way NeighborLink runs and operates as we continue to grow. Her zeal to make an impact by bringing more awareness to others who want to learn and do something is vital to our team as we continue to learn how to train and equip volunteers and move toward more comprehensive neighborhood development.Megan@nlfw.org
Lyndsy Rae Porter, Community Relations Coordinator
Lyndsy join the staff in March 2018 with a passion to bridge the gap between groups of people who otherwise wouldn’t cross paths. She brings an inquisitive mind and an ability to see the bigger picture. Lyndsy knows how to make people feel comfortable and bring them together. Lyndsy will be running a few neighborhood development programs we currently operate as well leading some research initiatives to help shape our future. With a heart full of life ready to make people feel seen, Lyndsy is able to connect to people of all walks of life, which will strengthen the roots and connections NeighborLink has throughout the city.
Dylan joined staff in 2018 after spending several years involved in Team NeighborLink, growing an established connection to NeighborLink. With a background in sales, and a relational magnetism, he possesses the heart and skills crucial to building relationships with NeighborLink volunteers. Dylan works to engage new volunteers, re-engage prior volunteers and deepen those connections. He plays a relational role both in NeighborLink and Team NeighborLink as his primary goal is to connect and foster relationships with volunteers and homeowners alike.