Written by Carole Peters and featured in the Northwest Herald

We’ve all heard the saying “work smarter, not harder.” As the executive director of a nonprofit, it is my job to make sure that our team adheres to that very motto.

It’s extremely important to be resourceful and collaborate with other companies and organizations in our county. We make sure that every dollar is being spent wisely and that United Way of Greater McHenry County is being a good steward of our donors’ contributions.

UW Marketing Manager Heather Arnold, Intern Regina Manning and McHenry County Workforce Network’s Thomas Faber

It’s my goal to make sure we are granting out the most money possible to our 30 local nonprofit partner agencies every July. As with any nonprofit organization, that means operating with a lean staff.

Since joining United Way in February, I’ve had the chance to look at our organization’s processes, procedures, areas of opportunity and how we can be the most effective with our small team.

Moving forward with momentum is exciting, but it sometimes can be a challenge with only a few staff members. We’ve had to figure out how to increase efficiency, gain added support without incurring additional costs and avoid being overwhelmed by managing additional staff.

Enter the McHenry County Workforce Network. I had the good fortune to meet with Thomas Faber, its business service representative, during the summer.

The network offers an internship program that was introduced to me, not only to help our organization, but also people who are looking for jobs and wanting to gain additional skills and on-the-job training toward their employment goal. It sounded like a win-win for United Way of Greater McHenry County and for other local companies, too.

Since collaborating with the network in the past few months, we have had the pleasure of working with two interns who have assisted with special projects, administrative duties, our 2-1-1 program outreach and a variety of other important tasks. Both interns have worked 16 to 20 hours a week in our McHenry office paid by McHenry County Workforce Network.

As part of the requirement of the McHenry County Workforce Network, we developed two job descriptions that outlined specific responsibilities that each person would focus on. These job descriptions allow them to work on a variety of tasks that help them develop new skills and enhance current ones, as well as help us meet some goals for our organization.

I’m proud to say this program has been extremely beneficial for us, and we are thrilled to be a part of it. Each intern works part time up to
240 hours or up to 12 weeks. This, in turn, provides us a chance to give back to the community by serving as mentors, supports valuable training to interns on new skills and introduces them to new organizations in the county where we hope they will find their next employment opportunity.

It just goes to show you the power of collaboration, the benefits of working together, the value of partnering within your community and how good it feels to be working smarter. We are grateful to the McHenry County Workforce Network for providing this program, and we are excited to have our next intern start in the next two weeks.

For information about how to collaborate with the McHenry County Workforce Network, call Thomas Faber at 815-334-2798.

• Carole Peters is the executive director of United Way of Greater McHenry County. For information, visit uwmchenry.org.