10th Annual Making Miracles Event

Last Friday we gathered to celebrate an incredible ten years. Ten years in which we have provided mentors to orphans and foster kids.  Ten years of sharing Christ, seeing lives changed, and giving out bibles.  Ten years made possible by the generosity of sponsors and the gift of volunteers time.  This event was a night to celebrate and a challenge as we prepare to expand and grow.

We gathered at The Hip Room on Franklin Street for food, fellowship, entertainment, and an incredible silent auction.  One family even went home with a new member: Pickles the puppy.   This event was a tribute to all of the people who have made this organization successful for ten years and a challenge to help us grow, expand, and further our reach for the next ten and beyond.

With so many wonderful stories and lives to celebrate we are also overwhelmed by the amount of kids still in need.  On our tables were over 100 hearts.  55 represented kids in the Tampa area waiting to be matched with mentors, 25 represented kids in Georgia we hope to match this summer, and the rest represent kids already being mentored who need continued support. The need for both the volunteer mentors and provision for the training, bibles, and materials is still great.  We also  shared our excitement and vision to launch I Matter Too in Douglasville, GA (part of the greater Atlanta area) later this summer.  Between Tampa and the greater Atlanta area there are over 10,000 orphaned and abused children who need our mentors and we’re determined to help them all.

If you weren’t able to make the event – you were missed.  It’s not too late, however,  to sponsor a child, donate to help us fund Georgia’s launch, or become a volunteer!  During the event we were able to gain the sponsorship needed for several of the Tampa and Douglasville kids whose names filled our table arrangements but we have more to match. The event may be over for this year but the work is just beginning!  With God’s provision I Matter Too will provide mentors to each child currently waiting and continue to grow with the increasing need for mentors as our cities foster and orphan populations continue to grow.

Beginning to serve Georgia is an exciting next step.  We can’t wait to see how God will change lives for the kids (and volunteers) in Georgia.  Even as we celebrate the expansion into new territory we know that I Matter Too isn’t just needed in Florida and Georgia. We continue to pray and work towards growth and an expanded reach.

Thank you to all who attended our event.  Thank you to our sponsors, mentors, volunteers, and staff.  Thank you to all who continue to support the vision and mission of I Matter Too.  It has been an incredible 10 years because of each of you.

 

Time Management: Increasing Efficiency

Ever wish you had more time?  We each have the same amount of hours (168, to be exact) in our weeks but not all hours are spent equally.  Most, while wishing we spent more time working out, with our families, on friendships, or preparing for our volunteer roles would confess the occasional hour wasted on TV or social media.  Time management is a term thrown around offices but how do we manage our time to keep our lives full but avoid feeling ‘busy’? Last week we promised we’d tackle time management in more detail so we can all avoid burning out.

Every January I read one book on time management and determine new ways I will manage time for my best year yet.  Among my favorites are books by Laura Vanderkam, an author and writer for Forbes and Fast Company.  Here are a few recommendations I’ve tried and found true from my reading of her books.

Track Your Hours

On her website Laura provides a sheet for tracking your day in 15-30 minute increments.  She suggests doing this for a week to ‘check up’ on how your hours reflect your priorities.  The first time I tried this exercise I was disturbed by time I couldn’t account for.  Is writing ‘mindlessly cruising the internet’ really worth filling a 15 minute window with?  The trick is to be as honest as possible.  After the second day I noticed that I was spending 15 minutes watching my coffee drip when I could set the pot the night before.  Even simple solutions like this gave me back time previously wasted.  If you’ve ever looked through your bank statement and added up your spending by category then you already know how revealing these types of exercises can be.  If not, you’re in for a treat.

Time Management Requires Planning Ahead

Hopefully you’ve been following our blog over the past few weeks and will remember that we offered Morning Pages as an option for helping plan your days.  Not ready to commit to daily planning through journaling? Start with using one hour on Sunday evenings to decide how you will spend your week.  Want to make sure you get in 3 workouts? Schedule the time.  Need a date night with your spouse?  Get it on the calendar.  Need to make time to plan how you will spend your time with your I Matter Too child?  Schedule in planning time.  Also, make a list of the top 3 items that must be accomplished this week and tackle those in the mornings when you’re freshest, if possible.  Having a plan will limit the time you spend trying to remember what needs done or deciding what to do next.

Maximize Bonus Time

Perhaps my favorite tip I’ve found through my yearly study of time management is to have a list of items you’ll do when you find bonus time.  While we can plan to the minute the time we know we’ll have, sometimes we have unexpected time!  A dinner cancelled, a friend running late, a meeting that gets moved. Keep a list of items you’ll use this unexpected gift of time on!  If you’ve been meaning to work on your quarterly goals for IMT or finish a book – make sure you keep those with you to work on during these lulls.

Often when we have 10 minutes waiting for someone running late to a meeting, we use them checking e-mail.  Resist this habit and use the time for something important. Text a fellow volunteer, come up with ideas of where you will take your child, even read our latest blogposts with info to help you succeed not just in your role here but beyond.

‘Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established’ – Proverbs 16:3, ESV

Additional Reading and Resources

 

Want to learn more? Here are some great resources to help you continue to use your time wisely.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Organizing Your Day: Time Management Techniques That Will Work For You

What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

Present Over Perfect (this ones for my over planners, who want to make sure they’re not missing what the Lord ultimately has for them by being too scheduled!)

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Volunteer Burnout: 5 Ways to Avoid this Common Pitfall

It takes a servant’s heart to be a volunteer and we love that about those who commit to I Matter Too as mentors, team leaders, fundraisers, recruiters, and on our events teams.  We also know that balancing life and your commitment serving can be tiring if boundaries aren’t in place to protect you from volunteer burnout.

Here are 5 tips for avoiding volunteer burnout and staying in your role long-term:

Avoid Volunteer Burnout by Scheduling Regular Check-ups

According to this article by Nonprofit Hub you need to get ahead of burnout by having regular checkups.  This is crucial for all volunteers and leaders. We ask our team leaders to meet one-on-one with three of their mentors each month, for example.  This ensures that every one of our mentors is getting individual time with their leader regularly.  This is your chance to talk to your leader about stressors and worries you’re having!  Also: ask for help.  If you’re encountering a struggle with your child or even with the guardian, parent, or foster parent of your child – ask for advice.  Your team leader is a resource for you to help you avoid frustration.

Team leaders we have a  new place for you!  Starting in July we will be having a monthly meeting for our team leaders on Monday nights while your new mentors are getting trained in orientation.  This will provide a place for you to ask other team leaders for help or advice in dealing with the leaders on your team.

Our bi-monthly call is also a great resource for every volunteer and team member.  We leave time at the end of every call for questions and the floor is open to you.  Take advance of this time and resource.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout through Quiet Time

Matthew 11:28-30 says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’

Ultimately as believers we know that our rest is best found in Christ. If you sense that you’re headed towards burning out be sure you’re spending time with your Savior, daily.  One of my favorite verses during a season I experienced overcoming burnout came from Psalm 61:2-2  ‘From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe’. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  This can only be done through time with Lord.  

Avoid Volunteer Burnout with Accountability

Accountability is a popular word amongst Christians but even the business world appreciates the benefits of accountability in avoiding burnout.  Lifehack listed this as a way to avoid burnout citing that you sometimes need others to hold you to your commitment to rest, balance, or manage your time more efficiently.  This is a great way for you to support other leaders on your team.  Regularly ask each other if they are spending time in word and if they are carving out time to rest.  We suggest that you find a team member to be accountable too because spouses and family members are too close to the situation to give accurate feedback.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout through Efficiency

One way to avoid volunteer burnout is to manage your time efficiently.  Next week, we will address this in detail.  The experts agree though, how you manage your time directly impacts how much you can accomplish without feeling stressed, exhausted, or completely wiped out.  If you feel yourself burning out, sit and consider where you’re ‘wasting’ time and what could be done by someone else or not done at all.  Often times when we truly consider the tasks we place on ourselves we realize that some do not need done and more still could be done by someone else.  Take a long, honest look at your plate and don’t be afraid to involve a team member!  We can usually advise others better than we can ourselves.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout with Rest

We can all pinpoint times in our lives (or perhaps while parenting) when exhaustion gets the best of us.  In order to avoid burnout, make sure that you are getting rest.  The most basic form of this being sleep.  Don’t buy into the lie that sleeping less will help you accomplish more.  You need sleep and rested people can accomplish more in less time.  Also, unplug and disengage.  Take a walk without your phone.  Spend a morning by the the pool.  Commute without a podcast, radio, or phone call.  If we’re going to teach our children about their emotional self – we need to care for ours, as well!

At I Matter Too we love our volunteers.  We are blessed with an incredible group of people that serve in each role. Valuing our volunteers we also want to help them avoid burning out so they can serve God, their families, and I Matter Too with passion for many years to come.  We couldn’t serve the orphaned and abused children of Florida & Georgia without you so we need you fresh and healthy.

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Journaling Benefits for Kids to Expand Emotional Intelligence

Journaling Benefits

The journaling benefits we’ve discovered may come as a surprise to you. According to one article by the Huffington Post it can stretch your IQ, increase your emotional intelligence, and even strengthen self-discipline. One journaling benefit we at I Matter Too will also add to this list is organizing goals for accomplishment. Journaling is a great way for you to track (and celebrate) progress in your relationship with your I Matter Too child as well as a great practice to share with them.

Previously thought of singularly as a ‘dear diary’ activity cataloging your day, journaling has expanded to take on many shapes and sizes. Find the right option for you and for your child (which you may find are two different styles):

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Engaging Kids Through Meaningful Conversation

Starting and maintaining conversations with our kids can be tough. None of us as mentors want to receive one-word answers or ‘I don’t knows’ while engaging kids in conversation. This can be especially challenging while getting to know your mentee and they’re growing comfortable with you.

How do we draw our kids into meaningful conversation and keep them engaged? As it turns out, parents everywhere are asking this exact question.  The May issue of Real Simple magazine offered up ‘5 Ways to Make Conversation with Kids’. I read through it with I Matter Too kids in mind and found that many of the ideas applied equally to our roles as mentors.

Here are the ideas they listed in the article but with my adapted explanation for how to use these suggestions with I Matter Too.

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Love Changes Everything

COMING SOON