Conference Tips

Hey y’all!

I’m headed to the Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service to hear from some of the most amazing leaders and some pretty incredible visionaries. I love working in the non-profit sector for countless reasons, but one big one is that there is also something more to learn and the people who educate us are dynamic, passionate individuals.

I’ve been to my far share of nonprofit conferences, being that when I started out, I had literally no idea what I was doing! I jumped right in and have a few tips for the best way to get the most out of a conference…and these can be applied to any workshop or conference!

 

1) Business Cards. (Duh.) 

  • While I love to connect with people immediately on LinkedIn or social media, sometimes in the chaos of sessions, it is easier to hand them a card and promise to reach out when you get back to your hotel that night. (Tip: As soon as you walk away from them and have a second, write a little note to yourself on their card about who they were i.e. what they were wearing, a unique topic you discussed, what session you were in, etc. It helps keep all the contacts straight at the end of the day so you can follow up!). I got these guys designed by my favorite brand designer, Whitney Vass, but I think TinyPrints also has some really wonderful options. (I think these would really stand out and are such a creative idea!)
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2) Business Card Holder. 

  • You think this is obvious but I didn’t bring one once and let me paint a picture here: Juls is rummaging around in her Mary Poppins bag trying to produce a 2.5×2.5 square piece of cardstock while people are rushing around here and her new-maybe-donor…not a great impression, really just a hot damn mess! This one from Poppin is only $6 and is super durable…do everyone a favor and help save your sanity. Product_card_case_copper_1_a

3) Mobile Charger.

  • I. would. die. Without my ban.do charger I would be on my own for navigating back to my hotel, catching up on emails in between sessions, and connecting with those folks on LinkedIn! Because I have two phones, both my work and my personal, I always make sure this little guy is fully charged every night…he’s got a lot of work to do!
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4) Notebook. 

  • The first few conferences I went to I thought I’d be super cool and take my iPad. I typically work on it at night, responding to a few emails and checking through social media + graphics, so I thought it would be lightweight and easy to have during sessions to take notes. Shocker: that was a bad decision on countless levels. Few things:
    • Very few large conferences are going to have tables that you’re sitting at – you’re most likely going to be in rows of chairs. If you can type on your iPad without it sitting on anything but your lap (even if you have a keyboard), great. For me, that didn’t work.
    • I also was getting way too distracted. Since most conferences I attend are during the work week, I always fall behind. At first, I didn’t remember how important it was for me to be fully present and attentive to my speakers. Now, I only take notes in journal. Most presenters will send out links to their presentations and any resources they shared at the end. Don’t panic!
  • Once upon a time, I found the notebook below at Homegoods. ’nuff said.
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5) Aleve. 

  • Trust me. Between the early wake-up calls, hectic arrivals and check-in, and back to back sessions for hours upon hours, just do it.

6) A jacket, sweater, and maybe a fur parka. 

  • I don’t think I’ve ever been in a hot mildly luke warm conference room. Nine times out of ten I’ve got goosebumps and my teeth are chattering. Even though it might be warm outside and you’re probably going to go grab drinks with new friends when sessions let out, pack that sweater in your bag to put on during the day.

These are just the things on my checklist…what is on yours?

Three Years

Three years ago today, my life changed forever. After about 6 months of trying to figure out the why, they when, and the how – we had our first birthday party.

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Three years ago this morning, I had no idea of what would happen in the next 12 hours. No idea that my heart would be permanently etched with the memories of a birthday party at Safe Harbor. I could have never dreamed of where we are today, the opportunities we have been privileged enough to provide our children, and the people we’ve had the honor of working alongside.

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In three years, a lot has changed. We’ve celebrated thousands of lives and have been able to walk alongside our children as they navigate their lives, fostering love and celebration in their hearts.

Three years ago, I would have never believed you if you would have told me that I would be balancing a “normal” college experience, with throwing birthday parties every week, managing two interns, countless meetings, speaking engagements, conference calls, making meticulous case notes, and all the other things I do day in and day out.

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In fact, if you had told me that three years ago, I would have vehemently denied it, citing the fact that I wouldn’t want to do that. However, three years ago – I was an idiot. These past three years have been the greatest adventure of my life and we are just getting started.

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Three years ago, we were just getting strapped into the roller coaster. We are still making that initial climb, anticipatory of what will come. In a few months, after making some carefully calculated decisions and prayerfully seeking what is next for our organization, we will throw our hands up, let the wind fly through our hair, and squeal with delight as we watch our programs bring more joy and love to the lives of our children.

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Thank you for being apart of this. Thank you for the past three years. Here’s to three hundred more.

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Fate Fotos

A Birthday Celebration

Hi there, y’all!

It’s been a little while since I’ve been around here…but I have a good reason, I promise.

Four years ago, when I founded celebrate! RVA in the commons of my high school, I would have never dreamed of where I would be today. It was a once-a-month birthday celebration that seemed impactful enough – but deep down, I knew we were capable of more. So we dreamt big and now….

We throw at least one birthday party a week, if not more. I manage a team of 100+ volunteers every week, coordinate meetings with potential donors and partners, maintain social media, donor management, PR, the IRS and trying my best to keep my inbox to under 50 unread emails.

This all to say, I’ve been busy. And I missed my annual birthday post. I’ve done it since the beginning and I wanted to make sure y’all knew that I haven’t forgotten about this little space. I still reflected on my birthday this year and this is what I’ve got for you. Might want to grab a bottle of wine and get ready for a doozy.

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Fate Fotos

From April 2015-April 2016, I think it is fair to say that my life was a bit of a roller coaster. The highest of highs (i.e., celebrating 1000 children, being named on The Prospect’s 20 Under 20 list, getting away on my first vacation in 3 years, working with countless, amazing RVA folks, bringing on the worlds most amazing assistant, and expanding to DC) and the lowest of lows.

While the lows are not all mine to share, they are certainly what most affected me in the past year. Time and time again, it felt like I was being barrel-rolled, never given the chance to stand back up, dust off, and prepare to be knocked down again.

But after a while, God showed up. and God showed up BIG.

We were given the opportunity of a lifetime to begin celebrating in DC with children who desperately need love and joy in their lives. After gaining insight on their lives and their day-to-day, it became clear that these children were truly intimidated by environments of joy. It is something that is so critical to child development, and they had been, simply put, deprived. Deprived of a true childhood in countless regards, from parental involvement to basic hygiene to education.

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Fate Fotos

But, birthdays? A birthday is so….human. It is something everyone has. and it is something everyone deserves to recognize. Birthdays are a time of celebration and love. A time to celebrate both the highs and lows of the year. A time to celebrate the joy that has surrounded you, and the love you’ve had to surround yourself with during the rough times. A time to celebrate your life and who you’ve become in the past year. A time to celebrate what your future holds.

For our children who do not even know their own birthday, they have never had the chance to celebrate their lives and who they have the potential to become. There is no special celebration of their accomplishments, no acknowledgment of the fact that they’ve spent another year beating the odds.

Our children deserve to be loved and deserve to be told that they matter, that they are important, and that our community cherishes them.

That is why we are expanding so quickly. There are countless children out there – children who don’t know the date they were born on, who do not comprehend the concept of a birthday candle – because they’ve never been told to make a wish before.

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Taylor Lynn Photography

Our birthday children desperately need joy in their lives, and we hope that your heart will be moved to help us do just that. I’m asking you to consider how you feel on your birthday – and give so that others may feel that same way.  Will you make a wish alongside me? A wish that is meaningful and important. Wish with me that every child in Richmond, D.C, and wherever we find this organization next, that every child may feel loved and celebrated.

With lots of birthday love,

Julia

changes around here

Hi, y’all!

If you’re looking for the celebrate! RVA blog where we will be sharing news, updates, and recaps of birthday parties — head over here. This site will be updated by both volunteers and celebrate! RVA staff.

This will be the new spot for some behind the scenes, more personal updates, and party styling, straight from the Girl in the Party Hat herself!

If you have any questions, please reach out to hello@celebraterva.org or julia@girlinthepartyhat.com.

XOXO

P.S — julia@girlinthepartyhat.com was previously unchecked and I accumulated quite a few emails. I’m working on responding to all of them now — please hang tight while I get to your message or feel free to resend it!