On Sunday, Spencer Pride held our annual meeting. For the first time, this was an online-only event due to the pandemic-related restrictions associated with gathering in groups. We were nervous about the new format for this important meeting, but we are happy to report that the meeting went well & we experienced no technical issues.
The meeting was broadcast to volunteers via Zoom (for interactivity) & to the general public via Facebook Live. The meeting was recorded & can still be found on Facebook here. Multiple organizational leaders participated in the meeting, including Katie Zuber, Janet Rummel, Jonathan Balash, Rex Hinkle, Nathaniel Clawson, Jacob Balash, Dana Beth Evans, Judi Epp, Cathy Wyatt, Joy Hellman, & Kim Fidler.
If you don’t have time to watch the video right now, check out the highlights below (then go watch the video when you have time; this post does not include all of the details):
Reflections on the Past Year
The pandemic has had a profound impact on on organization. It has caused cancellations of our annual pride festival & Iris prom. It resulted in a closure of our commUnity center for more than 3 months. It has resulted in a huge reduction in sales associated with our commUnity center & the many festivals & other events that we typically attend. Amidst all of the negative effects, however, we also have continued to prove our resilience. We adapted some of our programming to a virtual format. We have increased the amount of interpersonal engagement with our volunteers. As with all challenges that we experience, the pandemic has forced us to be creative. Thankfully, our volunteers have tremendous passion & imagination & stepped up to overcome this unforeseen pandemic.
We have increased the number of volunteers over the past year, welcoming 29 people who volunteered with us for the first time (along with a few who had been on volunteer hiatus & chose to return). We held multiple volunteer development & appreciation events, including our recent virtual events like Volunteer BINGO & the Volunteer Mixer. We rolled out our online volunteer application this year & improved our onboarding process. Individuals interested in volunteering can apply at www.SpencerPride.org/volunteers. Questions can be directed to commUnity center director (& volunteer coordinator) Jacob Balash at Jacob@SpencerPride.org or via text at 812-821-3073.
We made significant changes to our leadership structure this year in order to create a more sustainable organization. This included the addition of our first-ever vice president (Katie Zuber!), a re-organization of our entire board to assign organizational leadership responsibilities to each director, & the implementation of many new tools to help improve onboarding, information sharing, & management of our work. We also created & filled many new positions outside of our board as well.
We completed the Rainbow Roof Campaign goal & are excited to now have a brand-new roof on the commUnity center. Since purchasing the commUnity center almost three years ago, we’ve invested approximately $38,000 in roof replacement. As of today, all three of the roofs that encompass our center have been replaced. Many organizations & individuals donated to this effort & we appreciate those contributions.
Speaking of building improvements & changes, here are a few other items that we did over the past year at the commUnity center:
- Rehabilitation of the facade of the Gathering Place.
- Addition of the ‘dry goods’ mural in our retail shop
- Expansion of our ‘Proud Supporters’ wall
We took time to evaluate our fundraising & to develop a new strategy. Many individuals contributed to the development of this strategy. Several items were piloted while the strategy was being drafted, including “dine & donate” events & online raffles. These pilots were very successful. The board of directors approved the fundraising strategy this past Spring & there is currently a committee focused on implementation of the strategy. Individuals interested in joining this effort should contact fundraising director Judi Epp at Judi@SpencerPride.org.
While we experienced some challenges with the Owen County Commissioners this past fall due to their efforts to curtail our pride festival by implementing sweeping & draconian changes to the county’s special events ordinance, many positive things came from that experience:
- Supporters of Spencer Pride stepped up to share the importance of our festival & organization to our community. This was amazing. Special thanks goes out to all members of the Spencer Downtown Event Coalition, which came about in reaction to the actions of the Owen County Commissioners.
- The make-up of the Owen County Board of Commissioners will change after the election this year. Two of the existing commissioners are up for re-election & due to the saga over the special events ordinance (& their poor handling of the issue & poor treatment of their constituents), neither have chosen to run for re-election. As a result, the majority of the Commissioners will be changing over this year. We held a Candidates Forum in March to help educate the public prior to the primary election. We will be hosting a debate in October for the Commissioner candidates as well.
- The “out-of-the-box” creativity we employed to envision a festival that did not rely upon the postage stamp lawn of the Owen County Courthouse will result in a much larger & more visible event in the future. Our plans for our next in-person event include greater integration with downtown businesses as well as more diverse opportunities to learn, share, gather, & support.
Although it was an unprecedented year in many ways, Spencer Pride continued our outreach efforts. We participated in many events (in-person pre-pandemic, virtual during the pandemic) & supported many organizations through cash donations, in-kind donations, & volunteer hours. We also awarded 3 senior awards this year to our Iris youth members ($500 is given to each person).
Plans for the Coming Year
Over the next fiscal year (which started August 1 & will last until July 31, 2021), we have many activities planned. A few of them were covered in the meeting. They include:
- Hosting Spencer Pride Week from October 12-18, 2020. Stay tuned for more information!
- Hosting the 2021 Spencer Pride Festival (in-person) on Saturday, June 5, 2020
- Transitioning our Iris Youth Group meetings to twice monthly, on the 2nd & 4th Monday of every month from 5-6 PM at the Spencer Pride commUnity center. The first Iris meeting of our new fiscal year will be an ice cream social on August 10th. For more information, contact Youth Empowerment director Joy Hellman at Joy@SpencerPride.org or visit the Iris page at www.SpencerPride.org/Iris.
- Completing the rehabilitation of the retail shop, Gathering Place, & restrooms at the commUnity center. These areas are almost complete now, but we want to take them across the finish line by installing interior trim, completing the rehabilitation of the retail shop facade, & more. These activities are being done in preparation for the official kick-off of our Rainbow Rehab campaign in August 2021. For more information about the upcoming activities or the Rainbow Rehab campaign, contact president Jonathan Balash at Jonathan@SpencerPride.org.
- Investing in volunteer recruitment & appreciation activities. To provide feedback on what you’d like to see, contact Volunteer Development director Dana Beth Evans at Dana.Beth@SpencerPride.org.
During the meeting, we elected (& re-elected) directors & officers.
Director elections included:
- Joy Hellman, to continue serving as Youth Empowerment Director for another 2-year term. You can communicate with Joy via e-mail at Joy@SpencerPride.org.
- Cameron Glass, to begin serving as our new Volunteer Communications Director for a 2-year term. You can communicate with Cameron via e-mail at Cameron@SpencerPride.org.
- Nolyn Wyatt, to begin serving as our Iris Youth Director for a 1-year term. You can communicate with Nolyn via e-mail at Nolyn@SpencerPride.org.
Officer elections included:
- Kim Fidler, to continue serving as Secretary for a 2-year term. You can communicate with Kim via e-mail at Kim@SpencerPride.org.
- Jonathan Balash, to continue serving as President for a 2-year term. You can communicate with Jonathan via e-mail at Jonathan@SpencerPride.org.
There are many opportunities to get/stay involved with Spencer Pride by volunteering! You can do this from your home or in-person at our commUnity center.
Highlighted volunteer needs include:
- Volunteering at the commUnity center, especially on Friday & Sunday afternoons (from 2 – 7:30 PM). To volunteer, please complete our online volunteer application here. If you are already a volunteer but wish to take on something new, please contact Jacob at 812-821-3073.
- Volunteering for rehab work days in the ballroom coming up on August 15 & 23 & September 5. To participate in these, please contact Jonathan at Jonathan@SpencerPride.org.
As mentioned above, we encourage you to watch the recorded video of our annual meeting on Facebook. If you have any feedback about the meeting (or ideas for the future), please send them to us at info@SpencerPride.org.