February 22, 2021 – by David Hilleary
In 2018, I retired and moved with my wife from California to Maine, in order to be geographically closer to our children and grandchildren, who now live here. I was looking for an opportunity to give back, get to know my new home community better and, frankly, occupy my new wide opened schedule.
In January 2020, Kathy Crosson (Regional Director of IVC’s new Maine Chapter) made a presentation on IVC at Mass and it really struck a chord with me. I felt my prayers were being answered by giving me a structured opportunity to volunteer, providing me new friendships at both IVC and the non-profit where I volunteer, and facilitating my spiritual journey in this next chapter of my life.
IVC provided me with a list of non-profits to consider and interview for volunteer opportunities. This led me to STRIVE, a local program that provides a wide variety of services to young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. My volunteer commitment was initially to spend a half day each week with their ‘Next Step’ clients, who are people transitioning from high school into agency services, with an eye towards fostering independent living. During this half day I joined the group in various activities and closely interacted with the clients to develop a supportive relationship. I really enjoyed this time and came to appreciate the extraordinary services STRIVE provides. The balance of my two day volunteer commitment was spent on writing grant applications.
Due to the pandemic, I needed to stop physically interacting with STRIVE clients and instead now devote 100% of my volunteer time to remotely working on grants. While I had not previously written a grant application, STRIVE’s Associate Director provided me with guidance and resources. I used my past business experience to generate a list of foundations to pursue, to organize STRIVE’s grant writing effort (they previously didn’t have an active program to seek grants), create a spreadsheet/plan to track grant related activities, develop a database of standardized language to use when applying for a grant and personally author a large number of Letters of Inquiry and grant applications. I work closely with STRIVE’s Associate Director and Program Director and have been very gratified with my success in helping STRIVE raise over $100k, which was then doubled by a matching grant. In December I was honored to be named STRIVE’s Volunteer of the Year.
I enjoy participating in monthly Zoom calls with other local IVC volunteers and regularly meeting one-on-one with my spiritual adviser. We share details of our volunteer experience and discuss our respective spiritual journeys. My time with IVC and STRIVE has personally been very rewarding. I feel blessed to have found IVC and STRIVE, which allows me to use my business skills to give back, make new friends and provide me the personal satisfaction in doing good.