When We Embrace Different, Innovation Happens

COVID-19 has changed the world in which we live. As National VOAD members and organizations that are accustomed to working in chaotic disaster environments, this pandemic has presented challenges never before encountered. Though we have all participated in exercises that talk about a nationwide effect – I never envisioned a simultaneous activation of every State/Territory EOC; Federal engagement from every agency; closure of all businesses, faith facilities; an insufficient supply of PPE and medical facilities; and a worldwide lockdown of citizens. I still sometimes wondering if I am dreaming.

I have immense pride in our National VOAD members and your ability to embrace DIFFERENT! You have adapted to circumstances that change hourly/daily, created innovative programs and partnerships, moved to a virtual work environment, envisioned procedures to deploy volunteers safely, and worked together for the benefit of everyone affected by this pandemic. The linkages to philanthropy, government entities, and private sector support have never been as critical as they are now. Innovative partnerships have become the norm and we encourage you to explore new possibilities for your organizations. Please reach out to National VOAD staff for questions, conversations, and introductions as you explore mass feeding programs, medical outreach, childcare programs, educational materials, etc..

National VOAD was heartbroken to have to cancel our 50th Anniversary celebration and our National Conference in Pheonix, AZ. We had looked forward to seeing and learning from all of you. We continue to work on the Strategic Plan that you approved. We initiated the State/Territory capacity building project in the Midwest region and have recently expanded baseline analysis to the Southeastern states along with Puerto Rico/USVI. National VOAD identified additional resources – financial and in-kind – that we have made available to members. New organizations are being evaluated for membership by the Board of Directors. The Board is also convening a Diversity/Equity/Inclusion task force to be intentional in membership and leadership development. In the midst of COVID-19 response, a new National VOAD website was launched and we just signed a contract for the State/Territory websites. We hope that you have found value in the resources and support that we have been providing.

Though 2020 started with tornadoes and regional flooding – it has managed to create additional challenges with a nationwide pandemic and already two named storms for the hurricane season.

You and your agencies continue to innovate and adapt! As we have learned over our 50 years of NVOAD existence – none of us can do this alone! Thank you for the mission and ministry that you provide for the benefit our nation. Together we can overcome any challenge – lean in – lean on – and encourage one another!

Respectfully – with grace and peace,

Greg Forrester, President & CEO