Last month, Colleen Mayer took over as the new executive director of the Volunteer Center of Washington County (home of The Hub, Social Good Brews). Colleen joins me this week to talk about the Volunteer Center, her new role, the construction going on at The Hub, and how you can get involved as a volunteer in your community.
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Fuzz Martin 0:09
Hello and thanks for listening to Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. I am Fuzz Martin. I'm a partner at EPIC Creative in West Bend and I used to be on the radio on 92.5 WBWI, which is now buzz country, about a dozen years ago. I do this show because I love our community. And I want to showcase the good going on around us without all the noise from social media, politics, whatever else might be weighing us down. Plus, sometimes I miss doing this part of radio. I don't miss the business part of radio, but I miss this talking to you and having fun. There is a nonprofit organization in Washington County that helps other nonprofit organizations in Washington County, make sure they have the volunteer resources that they need to fulfill their missions. Colleen Mayer is the new executive director at the Volunteer Center of Washington County, which is also home to The Hub Social Good Brews coffee shop here in West Bend of which you might be familiar. Colleen joins me to talk about her new role, the renovations being made to the building, what programs the Volunteer Center offers, and how you can get involved. And with that, here's 15 minutes on the Volunteer Center of Washington County with Colleen Mayer on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.
Fuzz Martin 1:32
Colleen and thank you for joining me on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz this week, and congratulations on becoming the new executive director at the Volunteer Center and The Hub.
Colleen Mayer 1:39
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Fuzz Martin 1:41
You're very welcome. So give us a little bit of a background on what the Volunteer Center of Washington County is for those who might not be familiar.
Colleen Mayer 1:49
Okay, we are a for purpose, non profit organizations. So that's 501(c)3. I think I've been questioned in the past few weeks about how are we related to Washington County, are we funded by the county. So I'd like to just clarify that. We are a separate organization. And we depend on donations, we depend on our community to support us. But we are truly a mission based organization that is here to help strengthen our community.
Fuzz Martin 2:18
What does the Volunteer Center Washington County who does that organization support.
Colleen Mayer 2:23
So our services really are meant to connect to we right now support over 50 nonprofits locally. And our hope is that we can connect community members who are looking for volunteer opportunities with the needs of these 50 Plus organizations. And so we're the middleman we're the one that is the connector, we help to engage. We recruit we we educate, and then we help our community members to find something that they're looking for. They want to help our community. And so instead of them looking at 50 different organizations and trying to figure out how to get involved, we help make that a more seamless and an easier process for them. And we connect them to our 50 Plus member organizations.
Fuzz Martin 3:06
Can you give us some examples of some of the organizations that are members of the Washington or the volunteers in Washington County?
Colleen Mayer 3:13
Yes, definitely. We it's a pretty wide gamut. And I
Fuzz Martin 3:16
don't expect you to remember him or 50. Members.
Colleen Mayer 3:20
Thank you. We have a great group. And and we're trying to expand that. But really we cover the gamut, whether it's health and human services, senior and aging and disability, environmental youth, you know, we do a lot with kids. And then it could be the Humane Society. And when I say environmental, it might be organizations that are focused on like riveredge Nature Center, Lac Lawrann those are all members. And so it really covers whether you're looking for something that is from children, to seniors, outdoor to animals, we've got you covered,
Fuzz Martin 3:53
right, where is the Volunteer Center of Washington County located so
Colleen Mayer 3:57
We are at 303 Water Street. And if you're familiar with the building called the Hub, that is our home, the location is just off of Veterans Ave and Water Street.
Fuzz Martin 4:06
So right right next to the Museum of Wisconsin Art. Yeah, that's
Colleen Mayer 4:09
right down from MOWA. And we have a great view of the new Riverwalk, it's being renovated. And so we're right behind downtown, easy walking distance from the downtown area.
Fuzz Martin 4:19
What kinds of programming does Volunteer Center do for people in the community?
Colleen Mayer 4:23
Our number one service is really to benefit our members, right? So to try to engage volunteers and get members connected to these agencies who need their help. Sure. So one of our biggest programs is something called Get connected. And that is actually an online portal which allows all of our members to put in all of their volunteer opportunities and our members can put their profile of their organization and we just help connect the community to the needs that they have for volunteering, I should say our programs are really meant then to help engage people so that they can get involved with these organizations.
Colleen Mayer 4:56
So we have something called the Do Good Bus for example, and you might see a bus driving or around town with all the creative on the outside. It's just a tool that allows us to get groups of people to hop on a bus. And we take them to these organizations who need their help and perform group volunteer activities. So the do good buses one, we have Camp Superhero, we spend a couple of weeks with kids in fifth to eighth grade during the summer. And we use high school kids who are our leaders sure are these camps. And these kids get to see and learn more about the different nonprofits in our communities.
Colleen Mayer 5:28
So every day of camp, we're taking them to a different nonprofit to get volunteering experience, and get to know the community needs. So Kim superhero, we have something that we do that's volunteer recognition, which our annual big event is champions of change that comes up in April of next year. But we try to throughout the year do volunteer recognition programs, champions change is our largest and we have small engagement programs, all year long, we have something coming up that is using the hub space where we can get families to come bring their kids do activities where we can then for example, we're making crafts and cards for people that we're going to donate to Senior Centers In the Samaritan. So try and engage with families on different easy ways to get involved in volunteering. Even if it's not a long commitment,
Fuzz Martin 6:16
I'm getting kids to start with volunteering early on in their lives. Absolutely. Now, in addition to that, there's a thing that a lot of people know about, which is the hub and talked a bit about the hub and how that fits into the mission of the volunteer center.
Colleen Mayer 6:31
So The Hub, I look at the Hub is our home, right? It is a physical space, it's a building. And within the Hub, we operate something called Social Good Brews, which is a for purpose coffee shop. It's run primarily by volunteers, we have a small paid staff, but for the most part, this allows us to connect with the community becomes a central gathering space. And the Hub itself also is where our offices are located down below. And then we have some additional, I'll call it event venue space that we're trying to expand and grow to make it available and usable by our nonprofit organizations and members, community members, business groups, we've got a lot of organizations who come to us getting to, you just need this space. And we're trying to make it more conducive for that. So over the next year or so you're going to see more renovations to allow that hub to be a true gathering space for our community.
Fuzz Martin 7:25
And then in the Social Good Brews coffee shop that something interesting that the tips go to the different member organizations, right.
Colleen Mayer 7:32
Yeah. So you know, again, because it's a board purpose. We are there so that we can connect the community. And the tips that do come in right now are shared between all of our 50 nonprofit members. And I would say to date we've donated and raised over $158,000. Wow, that's sort of backed within.
Fuzz Martin 7:52
Yeah, that's wonderful. So you just joined as the Associate Director, how long ago was that? When did you start the federal back in February back in February and then sue millon who had been the executive director for I don't know, I don't even know how many years 10 times he was just hitting our 10th year. Yeah. And so she was planning on retiring. And now you've moved into the executive directors role. Congratulations. Thank you. Tell us about your background. Where were you at before you came to the Volunteer Center.
Colleen Mayer 8:23
Formerly, I was Vice President of Marketing at Quad for several years before that I was a VP of Marketing for an organization called Bon-Ton. Department stores locally, people might remember Boston store. That was one of our seven department store brands. But I left coming up on a year now I left quad knowing that it just wasn't my end game and great company loved working there. But I, I knew that I needed to either get into something that was nonprofit, or I was going to retire early and volunteer. Sure I actually launched an LLC, just as an interim backup, so that I could help small nonprofits with marketing consulting. So I left quad about a year ago, and I started doing some research and searching of different nonprofits locally and kept bringing them back to the volunteer center. And I started searching their website and looked at some of the opportunities there, saw that they had an associate director opening, I thought, maybe I should just work for them. So I reached out to sue I met her. We started talking. And I think more and more it just, it felt right. I knew that I needed to work here and that this was the place I was meant to be. So ultimately, I got the job. And it was with the understanding that Sue was looking ahead at what would her retirement look like What would her runway require. And so we started the first six months of my role was to learn her job and to divide and conquer to help give her some space to think about her next. And so she announced her retirement and Ultimately, I got her position.Fuzz Martin:
And now here you are worked out well. So with the transition, you've inherited a building project, and I see that construction is underway right now, can you tell us what people are seeing in the front, the construction in the front of the building right now,Colleen Mayer:
To your point, I inherited a project that it's pretty massive, but it's exciting. So the outside of the hub is being renovated to have an outside deck that will wrap around the front and the side of the building, which will allow for some capacity and some space, we won't be serving food and beverages outside, but it gives people more space to sit and to gather. Sure. And our hope is that gets done by the end of this year. Okay. And then we will transition to the interior where we're going to make some renovations that again, allow that space to be more used by the community and and by many of our partners. So there'll be a commercial kitchen. And we're going to improve it so that the sound and the acoustics are better. I know that comes up a lot with people who visit us Sure. But the space itself will be used for it can be used for small events, it will be used for our again, nonprofits might be able to use it for a fundraising event or such. But we hope to have that work done in 2023. Okay, by the way, becomes our 40th. Year, and so it'd be a great way to celebrate our 40th anniversary.Fuzz Martin:
Oh, wow. Okay, I didn't realize the Volunteer Center been around that long.Colleen Mayer:
1983 is when the organization was founded by a group of community leaders, and one of which is still a great supporter for us today. Sharon Ziegler. She was the one who led that and yeah, we're really proud that we can connect our renovations and the space improvements with that timeframe.Fuzz Martin:
And I know a lot of people in the community have been supporting the renovations. And there have been a number of organizations and, and other foundations that have been helping out to make this project get off the ground. And I think knowing that when it's all renovated, it's going to help support the partner organizations, even more, I think is pretty great.Colleen Mayer:
Yes, we have a very generous community. And I'm, I'm learning a lot about these different organizations who have been supporting us in the business groups, foundations, for sure. But we're very fortunate that people have believed in us from the beginning and have continued to believe in us and throughout this construction project. And we're we're taking the the hub. But I do believe that the benefit will be for more than just our nonprofits. Hopefully, that's where we really focus. But we have community members who truly want to use the space and use it for family gatherings and use it forFuzz Martin:
a new name. And yeah, the hotel is right next door, you can use it for rehearsal dinner, I guess, or something like that. There's so many different things you can you can think of for that space. And if you haven't been in there, I'd recommend getting in and checking it out. And what are some of the Volunteer Centers programs that you're excited about?Colleen Mayer:
I am really excited about to just reignite our youth programming. So we have done a great job with camp superhero, but we see the need, we didn't I just need to point one thing out when we had our summer camp last year 2022. We met with our high school team that was going to be the leaders for this camp. And ask them what do they think the nonprofits in this community should be focused on? The number one was mental health, okay. And these are high school kids. And so that was pretty telling to us. So we really do believe that we can develop more programming that is geared towards getting youth involved, because that plays a part of your mental health is by giving back and being a volunteer and getting involved that strengthens these, these kids. So we want to really push our youth programming and in bigger ways, and not have it just be two weeks out of the summer. But how do we do more all year round? So I'm excited about that.Fuzz Martin:
So if somebody wants to get involved with the different programs at the volunteer center, or social good, Bruce, how do they get involved with that work? Where should they start,Colleen Mayer:
you can come visit us anytime we've got a group of people that work downstairs, you can come into the coffee shop and ask for anybody from the volunteer center from our community engagement team, visit us online at volunteer now.net Or give us a call we we definitely are interested in meeting with you, we will help you through the process. We spend a lot of one on one time with community members who come in maybe it's a recent retiree, as I have time on my hand and I I have a lot to give, I just don't know where to start. We sit down with them, we bring our computer along and we take them through the 1000s of opportunities that are existing just in our website alone. So you can get involved phone email, call us stop inFuzz Martin:
and and that's whether you want to volunteer for one of these organizations or with the volunteer center or actually at the coffee shop as well. Right?Colleen Mayer:
Correct. Right. And and even just beyond the coffee shop, the Volunteer Centers Oh, we just have somebody coming in who wants to help us on every do good bus. Oh, sure they just want to be there and help us because they believe in the program. So there are more ways to get involved not just as a barista, for example, behind the counter, we have many opportunities at the volunteer center,Fuzz Martin:
if someone listening is with an organization that would like to potentially become a member of the volunteer center, how Same deal called step inColleen Mayer:
same deal, right. And we will connect them to our community engagement team, where we'll talk through what the member benefits are, how they will benefit from us, but also how we can be good partners for each other. And if it's a fit, then we put it in front of the board, get it approved, and they become a member.Fuzz Martin:
Perfect. Well, again, you can find out more information about that at volunteer now.net. Colleen, congratulations again on your new role as the executive director at the volunteer center, Washington County and thanks for coming on 15 minutes with fuzz.Colleen Mayer:
Thank you fuzz. I appreciate the time.Fuzz Martin:
Thank you again to Colleen Mayer and congratulations to her on her new role as the executive director of the Volunteer Center of Washington County. Also congratulations to Sue Millin on her well deserved retirement. Congrats Sue. That'll do it for this week's edition of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. New episodes come out every Tuesday. If you ever have an idea for the show, don't be bashful, reach out, let me know you can get in touch by going to fuzz.cc/guest that's fuzz.cc/guest. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org that's fifteen spelled out. New episodes come out every Tuesday. You can find more information on the show at fifteenwithfuzz.com. And again, I appreciate you listening. We'll talk to you next week right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz!