With 2019 and the 2020 board planning meeting completed, we felt that it was a good time to provide an update to all of our members. The past year was a time of transition for the Humanist Community of Central Ohio as we worked to define our mission, our role in the greater Columbus community, and create an organization that was fiscally responsible, accessible, and welcoming to all in keeping with both our mission statement and the tenets of the American Humanist Association.
We have added two new board members for 2020: Catherine Carney and Paul Ventling. However we are still under capacity, as our bylaws allow for 10 people to serve on the board . As a result, 2019 saw board members experiencing burnout as they tried to juggle both the ongoing daily commitment of guiding the organization and the expectation that the board would also run events such as Pride and Comfest.
We as a board have decided to ask our membership to step up to helm our main outreach events, including Pride, Comfest, and our Winter Solstice dinner. While we will still be available to help and provide resources and guidance, we hope to empower our members to take charge of these special events just as they have for our regular programming such as the monthly birthday dinners, blood drives, and meal service at a local homeless shelter.
One of our goals for this year to facilitate event planning is the compilation of “playbooks” that outline the planning process and timeline required for each event. They are in process at this time, and membership feedback and ideas would be much appreciated.
We want all of our members to be aware that volunteers are needed to make this organization sustainable in the long term. Volunteers are needed at a variety of levels, ranging from set up/clean up at our monthly meetings to hosting regular monthly events to forming the committees that will make our presence at Pride and Comfest possible. If you would like to become more involved as a volunteer, email Carl at president (at) hcco.org or reach out to a board member.
Our most pressing need at this time is for people to organize Pride and Comfest as the deadlines to apply are rapidly approaching. The more people who step up to help with these events the easier the workload will be for everybody.
Finding a Home
As many of you may have noticed, we had a rather “nomadic” existence in 2019 as far as our monthly meeting location. We had hoped that the Gay Street space would be reasonable for us, but found that the barriers to using it, including accessibility, parking, and space availability, outweighed the benefits of the downtown location and relatively inexpensive price.
In addition, one of our long-term goals for the organization is for us to have an impact on the greater community. In order to do that we have to find the community and be present–first with meetings, but gradually increasing our presence to volunteer service within that greater community.
With that in mind we explored other options, and settled on using branches of the Columbus Metropolitan library. We found that parking and access were issues at some locations and finally settled on the Parsons Avenue branch. It offers ample parking, is ADA compliant, has good visibility for our organization, and there is no charge for us. Plus, we have found the location to be friendly and welcoming.
Our storage unit rental continues to be an on-going expense, and one of the jobs on the board to-do list is to sort and categorize our stored items, with an eye to whittling down our inventory and possibly reducing our storage needs.
As many of you know, an organization consists of its members. We have gained a significant number of memberships through our website over the last year which is wonderful! We hope that in the coming years we can maintain a steady growth and expand our engagement with the community.
The plan to address this is threefold: first, we are working to define exactly what the benefits of membership are for people so we can effectively market HCCO to the surrounding community; second, we plan to engage in outreach to other groups containing individuals who might be interested in our group; third, we want to encourage greater diversity within the organization, creating a welcoming atmosphere for families with children, and for ALL people in keeping with our mission and the tenets of the AHA. Our move to Parsons Avenue is in keeping with these goals. The board has had several discussions around these plans over the past year, including a discussion last fall with a diversity and inclusion expert in the Columbus area. We are integrating the things that we learned from her in our long-term vision for the organization.
At this time our income is matching our expenditures, and we received a grant of $2,500 from the JHJ Foundation. We have trimmed expenses in some areas, including our monthly meeting expense, to be more fiscally responsible, and we have a reasonable cushion available in the event of an unforeseen situation. If you are currently a member you can view the current budget (as well as the past few years’ board meeting minutes) by logging onto My Account (scroll to the bottom of the page).