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Commission Minutes

April 20, 2012

Location: Conference Room 110, 19 Union Street, Augusta, ME

In Attendance:  F. Celeste Branham, Susan Hammond, Ron Holmes, Kristie Littlefield, Drew Matlins, Joel Russ, Eileen Smart, and Barbara Wentworth

Via conference phone:   Susan Austin

Staff Present:  Maryalice Crofton, Pam Zeutenhorst, Michael Ashmore, and Aline Lachance

Guests:  Gabriele Matlins, Sara Knowles (Maine Conservation Corps), Jen Craven (Goodwill Industries Northern New England), and Joely Ross (Goodwill Industries NNE)

Public Comments
Goodwill staff acknowledged MCCS participation in AmeriCorps training. Michael Ashmore attended Goodwill AmeriCorps program training and Meredith will attend on Monday.

While some did try to respond, there was no correct answer. 

Pam thanked those Commissioners who helped at Tuesday's Governor Service Award ceremony. First Lady Anne LePage presided over the 26th annual presentation of the Governor's Awards for Service and Volunteerism. There were seven winners and five honorees.

A special Volunteer Hero recognition was given to Laurianne Cormier of Lewiston for her second career dedicated to serving her community. After nearly 30 years working in a local shoe factory, Ms. Cormier retired and began volunteering with St. Mary's Health System in 1977.  Over the past 35 years, she has volunteered in every section of health system and contributed more than 18,500 hours. This July will be her 100th birthday.  Both her grand-daughter and son were present. 

 A last minute sponsor meant award recipients received a gift. Cabot Cheese signed on the week prior to the GSA ceremony. It happened because Pam started working with them on an event celebrating community volunteerism and cooperatives. MCCS will be one of their partners for the last fair on an east coast tour. This year is the International Year of the Cooperative and Cabot Creamer is a cooperative. It is sponsoring their 2012 Community Tour celebrating their farmers and products. The tour begins May in Florida and will be in Portland, Maine at Payson Park (Back Cove) on July 7, 2012. 

Addition / Deletions 
Peter Rogers was unable to attend the Commission meeting and present an SPO update.

MCCS will be moving to the Cross Building. The state postal drop is now 105 State House Station and address is 111 Sewall Street

No rooms in Cross Building for meetings of more than 20 people. MCCS needs to find a 'free' location to hold Commission meetings.  The Commission meetings are every 3rd Friday of the month, except for July, August and December. We have no budget for Room rental. So far, inquiries have not been successful. Celeste will reach out to Univ. of Maine Augusta.

Congressional Budget Justification (CBJ) 
This was a holdover from last month when there was no time for discussion. When asked if any Commissioners had questions, there were none.

Drew noted some issues that need to be tracked. They came up in discussions of the meeting of states in March at which Mary-Anne LaMarre represented MCCS. The issues are lack of funding for Volunteer Generation program; change in distribution of training/technical assistance funds (no support to states; all going out to national vendors through competitions); misperception that state commission operating funds come from a percentage of program grants. This last was the basis of cuts to state commission support. Many other federal programs allow states to keep 5% of a funding stream for operation but AmeriCorps doesn't work like that. Need to educate Congressional representatives. Also, the training and technical assistance responsibilities of states were not lessened; just funding removed.

Due to lack of a quorum, no vote was taken on the March 16, 2012 minutes. No omissions or corrections were noted.

Grants Task Force
Joan not able to attend today so Michael reported. The Task Force did not meet last week because it will have extra meetings over the next two months for grant reviews.  The credentials of external peer reviewers were considered and approved. Training for these Peer Reviewers is underway. The Fixed Amount RFP for AmeriCorps has been issued. Potentially, reviewers will have to deal with four types of proposals.

Public Information and Education
Governor's Service Awards. Event was a success and the number of Commissioners helping out was up this year. Very appreciated. For the Roll of Honor, the Bangor Daily News donated a full page in the print version of the paper and donated an advertisement on the home page of the internet edition. The internet feature linked to a listing of everyone on The legislative reception for award winners was held after the Hall of Flags ceremony in the Transportation Committee room. Senators and Representatives met with GSA winners from their districts.

PIE will get back on track with the rest of its agenda now. A request was made to Commissioners for copies of corporate social media policy examples and plans. MCCS looking at what is best use of its outreach methods and the policies or plans from others would give some food for thought.

A suggestion was made to staff and PIE. A weekly bulletin for the field might be more useful. These tend to be very short so they can be scanned by readers quickly. Use the MCCS newsletter system.

Excellence & Expertise
The task force did conduct a review of its 2012 assignments under the Strategic Plan. Referring to a handout of the assignments, Drew noted there is progress on tasks six and seven. He discussed the task force approach to work for the remainder of the year.

One issue (infrastructure in regions) led to discussion of areas where there are no organizations whose missions are to build capacity in others, especially volunteer administration capacity. In Washington County, the VGF grantee is declining to continue and, after outreach and meetings with logical successors, all have declined. Ironically, the peer network of volunteer managers is still advocating for the work to be done. It seems a case of low priority or lack of awareness about support for volunteer efforts. Kennebec County is another had area.

The task force is going to expand membership to include non-Commissioners. The new people will be experienced volunteer program leaders who will serve as advisors and representatives of the field.

Board Development
Joel reported progress on planning for succession of officers. The current two-year terms end in June. The planned succession of Drew moving from Chair-elect to Chair and Ron from Vice-chair to Chair-elect has been confirmed. John Portela will be recommended for election as Vice-chair.

A handout showing expiring terms, people who are retiring (creating vacancies), and existing vacancies was distributed. It has a profile of the board demographics and shows the geographic, gender, age, and political traits we need to have a well-balanced board. Commissioners are asked to conduct outreach and, when someone expresses interest in submitting an application, forward the person's contact to Board Development.

Commissioners with expiring terms who have indicated they will retire are Steve Letourneau, Brenda Peluso, and Deb Eckart.

Commissioners seeking reappointment for another three years include Mary-Anne LaMarre, Andrew McLean and some new members who were appointed to fill the last year of someone else's term.  

The Task Force needs additional Commission members and is planning to expand representation from the field. The new MCCS publication "Service-Learning in Maine: A Guide to Implementing Quality Service-Learning"  was distributed to Commission members. Commissioners are welcome to take multiple copies but should note to whom they are given. For future outreach, a list is being compiled of who receives this publication.

Global Youth Service Day if finally close at hand. Participation spread from Maine to Connecticut as a result of Commission information put out through social media and KIDS Consortium. The Youth Service America grant helped reach and enroll 980 youth in service projects for the day.

VISTA Annual Plan
Held over for next business meeting.

CNCS Field Office Update
New CEO has been confirmed as head of the agency. There has been an interim leader for the last 10 months. The new person is Wendy Spencer. As the press information noted, she most recently was executive director of the Florida State Service Commission (Volunteer Florida) so she understands the Commissions and the role of states. She is also reaching out to the state offices (federal agency field offices) and getting off to a good start.

Spencer held a national conference call with AmeriCorps members and VISTAs last week. Those who participated had quite a unique experience. The operator broke in and said that President Obama was on the line. He spoke to the members, thanked them for their service, and reiterated his support for the program.

CNCS is nearing the end of the process to transform how it does business. Finally, the standardized performance measures for all National Service programs have been set. Pilots are over. Now that these are in place, it is time to look at community issues and the fit.

Strategic Plan
After general discussion about the exercise to identify priorities for the remainder of 2012, it was decided to cancel the May business meeting and, instead, hold a work session. The problem encountered for the last three months is that this discussion and decision-making require more time than is available within the agenda. Joel and Barb will build the process agenda.