Archive for July, 2018

Group Dedication

July 1, 2018

As i take a Sunday to relax on the couch and do as little as possible, i catch a television commercial that states “at this minute, 72,000 people are hating their jobs”. Like most people, i have had a job or two that i would just as soon go to the dentist than do another shift. I had a short underemployment stint following graduate school where i scheduled visits to the V.A. just to get a day off.

Fortunately, i have landed in a very nice place that i don’t hate. It is actually the opposite. I love going to work each day. The reason is not just because it is in my field of study, or because i work in a place that is synonymous with fun. Actually, it is a true NFP receiving no government funds or any tax based contracts so the pay is nothing to write home about. Often in a NFP, employees wear many hats and have a mastery of operating a wide variety of functions that larger profit based organizations have individual positions for the same requirements.

With extra responsibilities, many times extra hours are required. Government regulators do not care if you do not have a full time H.R. Specialist, a Safety Officer, or Public Affairs. In the world of NFP organizations, everyone steps up and fills in these important roles.

Add in a major event- large fundraiser, public event, facility upgrade, capital campaign, or a major expansion. With a small but dedicated staff (and volunteers and sometimes board members) everyone adapts to pull off a successful event.

My current organization is nearing the finish line on a 14 month major expansion. I am amazed daily as i do my rounds and notice things that were completed since my last walk through. Many in our organization have stepped up and went far beyond what could reasonably be expected by such a lean organization. People from Education doing landscaping, weekend customer service staying late to paint, Operations sourcing plants, furniture, & contractors. Hell, our executive director has been helping move exhibits and filling in every time someone needs a hand. We also lucked out by having a Site Superintendent that invested himself in our mission and has far exceeded “other duties as assigned.” For that matter everyone has. Employees have put their families and personal activities on hold many times and worked late- as in like another shift late. People have returned at night for lighting design. Employees have brought multiple changes of clothes to insure proper attire and plan for the possibility of being roped into a hot sweaty task. Individuals have worked with flashlights and headlamps into the night to insure that landscaping will be finished. No matter what, every morning education comes in early to get the next day started.

Many days lately, we have had people in our building from 6:00am until the last of the clean up crew leaves at 11:00pm (save for flooring nights that they stay until three).

What does this unending dedication get you? We have cleared land, built a building, built an airfield, installed a helicopter (yes, a real one), built a police car, converted a police SUV to play in, oversaw the design and installation of 22 interactive exhibits, negotiated another land grant, upgraded current facilities, implemented policy, operations, and safety policies, landscaped a couple of acres, and developed educational plans to apply all of this to our mission of being a nationally recognized Art and Science museum for children.

This has literally been a journey of blood, sweat, and tears. I only hope that other organizations find the chance to see what a massive amount of dedication can result in. It has been a wonderful experience and i hope to do this again.

If you find yourself crossing throughCentral Illinois on I-72, heading south on US-51, or even cruising through Springfield on old Rt. 66, take time to swing over to Decatur and check out the lake! See what happens when an old industrial town is forced to accept economic realities and the people come together to make something nice. Like the Zoo, or Pier 36 Marina, or the amphitheatre, the minigolf, ropes course, water park, expanded narrow gauge train, a sculpture park, or our humble children’s museum. Bet you can’t do it all in one day!

J. E. Sandy Sandberg

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