RHINELANDER - Northwoods non-profits may struggle to find volunteers, funding, and to stay afloat. A group of people in Oneida County wants to get more involved.
Leadership Oneida County pairs those groups with those people. On Thursday, those groups met to start working towards a common goal.
"We were very pleased to have the group help us and we're anticipating great results again," said Rhinelander Area Food Pantry Executive Director Guy Hansen.
In past years, a group of Leadership Oneida County candidates helped the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry create the Weekend Backpacks for Kids program.
Candidates participate in a 9-month program to learn more about the county's resources and gain more leadership skills. They also complete a community service project to help a Northwoods non-profit.
Projects over the past five years have ranged from creating business plans to planning events. They've made a big impact on the non-profits they've helped including the Rhinelander Historical Society.
"The Leadership team that was assigned to the group actually put together a whole public meeting at night where people can come in and view historical photos of Rhinelander. A simple idea, one that really took off," said Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dana DeMet.
This year's projects include planning a day-long career prep day for students at Rhinelander High School and helping the Literacy Task Force of Northern Wisconsin find new ways to make books available to the community.
Hansen hopes Leadership Oneida County candidates can help the food pantry create a plan to raise more money for its new location.
"We were housed rent-free before in the thrift shop in Nativity of Our Lord and now we have our own building. And we've budgeted a lot more money for utilities than we had before and we just had a meeting and it looks like we're going to be very close to $20,000 for utility expenses for the building that we didn't have to incur before," Hansen explained.
Oneida County Fair organizers have struggled to get enough volunteers in years past. They hope they won't have that problem this year.
"What I'm looking for is to see if they'll write up a plan as to how to promote to get volunteers with creativity and getting different ideas," said Oneida County Fair Coordinator Nancy Gehrig.
"We're allowing our Leadership candidates to practice a lot of the leadership traits that they are learning about for the nine months that they're in the program, as well as getting directly back to local organizations that have specific projects, real world problems that need to be solved, so it's a really nice fit together," DeMet added.
Leadership Oneida County candidates can create plans to fundraise, but they'll never actively seek donations. The candidates also only work on projects for non-profit groups as opposed to for-profit organizations.
|Story By: Lauren Stephenson