What Do I Do After VLC Is Over? Keep Sharing My CF Story

With another fantastic Volunteer Leadership Conference (VLC) in the books, I want to share some of the things we learned and how we can keep the momentum going through National Volunteer Week, and all year long.

| 5 min read
Bonnee Binker

On the Sunday morning after the 2018 Volunteer Leadership Conference (VLC) I sat on a plane, homeward bound to Miami, having just spent a week in Washington, D.C. I felt excited to know that at the end of my 1,052-mile journey, my granddaughter Delaney and son Brian would be at the airport waiting for me.

Headphones were attached to my iPad, music was playing, and my seatback TV was set on my trip's flight map. We took off and the city started to fade away. I looked at the map, which had us flying right over Bethesda, Md., home of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's office. I got a little chill as I realized that Coldplay's “Fix You” was playing on my iPad. “When tears come streaming down your face …” Yes, the tears started flowing.

It was an emotional and powerful weekend. Paul Motenko and I knew that when we accepted the position as 2018 VLC co-chairs, we had been entrusted with the awesome responsibility of representing each and every one of you as we planned this very special and important weekend.

As I stood before you on the stage and looked out into the ballroom, I didn't just see 600 dedicated volunteers and staff members. I saw 600 of you, the loved ones that inspired you to be there, and the volunteers you were representing -- your walk teams, your gala committees, your golf foursomes. And as I looked back at the cameras that were filming the livestream for people at home, I knew that our reach was far greater.

Now here is the question: How do we take what we learned at VLC and share it? How do we spread our passion and make sure we find more volunteers, foster more relationships, and show more gratitude for those who are already in this fight with us?
  1. First, let's spread our CF story. Each one of us has a unique story to tell and we are the best ones to tell that story. Let's practice our elevator speech and our five-minute story. Explore the many other ways that you can engage a new audience. Not on Twitter? Find someone to teach you how to tweet. Not using Facebook or Instagram? Learn how to set up an account and post. You never know who will read your post and ask, “how can I get involved?”
  2. Second, let's reach out to people we already know. You talk to people every day in your community, but have you ever taken a moment to tell them your story? I know that there are many people who feel uncomfortable asking their mechanic or their dry cleaner for a donation. But, have you ever considered asking them to volunteer at your next walk, or maybe ask your local coffee shop to host a committee meeting? (This could be mutually beneficial to both of you!)
  3. And finally, let's keep the volunteers that we already have. Handwritten thank-you notes go a long way to show someone how much you need and appreciate them. Personal phone calls inviting people to your chapter's annual meeting or volunteer thank you event will make them feel like part of the team. Keep your volunteers engaged year-round by sending them updates on our latest drug discoveries, or by sharing the news about your loved one's clinic appointment.

Next week, April 15-21, is National Volunteer Week. It's the perfect time to engage new volunteers and to thank those who are already giving so much to the fight against CF. If each of us committed to finding one new volunteer, we would double our ranks in just one week.

Some say that we are an army, some call us a community. But for many, we are a family. Whatever we are, there is an unbreakable thread that runs through each and every one of us. We are parents and grandparents and spouses and siblings. We are aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors and friends. We are passionate volunteers who are unstoppable. Because of us, there will someday be a cure for ALL with CF.

As I got ready to get off the plane and get a hug from Delaney, one last thought crossed my mind. I often say that “a real friend doesn't pull you out of a hole, they jump in with you.” My hole is a very crowded one because you all are in there with me. But, there is always room for more! Let's see how many new members we can add to our family before the 2019 VLC!

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Bonnee began volunteering for the Florida Chapter, South Florida Office of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation when her granddaughter Delaney was diagnosed with CF seven years ago. Since then, she has chaired or co-chaired numerous events, including the Great Strides Miami walk, Miami's Big City Affair, Miami's Night for a Cure, and Kick CF with Bryant McKinnie and Friends. She is a staunch CF advocate, and has attended the Foundation's annual Florida CF Day and March on the Hill. Bonnee has been a member of the Foundation's Miami-Dade Advisory Board since 2011, and currently serves as its chairperson.

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