“There is no point in being a part of an organization if you do not intend to make it better.” In my mind, that piece of advice, delivered by George Guerrero on the car ride home, summed up El Pomar’s Statewide Retreat last week. In a whirlwind three days, El Pomar staff and trustees, members of El Pomar’s eleven regional councils, and exceptional nonprofit leaders came together to exchange ideas, plan, and celebrate successes in Black Hawk, Colorado. As a first year Fellow, I was fascinated and intimidated, and stood to learn a lot.
As Katy Hammond, second year Fellow, puts it, “Statewide brings together an impressive group of individuals who make things happen throughout the State of Colorado.”
In fact, El Pomar’s Regional Councils represent Colorado from Durango to Julesburg, and include businessmen and women, newspaper publishers, community leaders, nonprofit executives, and city and state officials. The councils represent a wealth of expertise and experience from every region, and “Statewide” as its affectionately known, briefly creates a locale for sharing ideas and strategies that will spread back into communities across the state.
During one round table discussion, the facilitator emphasized that you cannot do nonprofit work without community buy in. The Regional Partnerships go beyond buy in; the councils have control of their own direction and are composed of people with pervasive influence who are tuned in to their community networks. By pairing El Pomar’s resources with local knowledge, every dollar goes deeper and does more. The Awards for Excellence Dinner is a highlight of the retreat, the awards ceremony celebrated four individuals and five excellent nonprofit organizations from throughout Colorado (https://vimeo.com/elpomar). These organizations were recognized as bastions in their fields, but nonetheless represent only a sliver of the passionate and innovative nonprofit community. The nonprofit organizations and leaders recognized by Awards for Excellence add a critical connection between our day to day work and its impact. The recipients reminded me why I am involved with nonprofits in the first place. During the dinner, looking at all of the dedicated individuals around the room, I could not help but feel pride to be a small part of El Pomar Foundation. Watching and listening throughout the retreat, it became abundantly clear that every person there continuously strives to make Colorado a better place. By participating in the conference, and interacting with so many incredible people, my desire and will to work to make my community a better place, whether in Colorado or elsewhere, was reconfirmed.