As a Washington, D.C., native, Jennifer Bond, CMM, CMP, has always been involved with her community. But when she became chair of the PCMA Capital Chapter’s Community Service Committee for the 2017-2018 term, she was able to take her passion for community service to a new level — which resulted in Bond becoming a national finalist in the Community Advocate category at the 2019 Visionary Awards, presented by the PCMA Foundation and held in Bond’s hometown of D.C. in May.
“I saw [becoming chair] as a great opportunity to bring a bunch of planners together to be able to help with various needs within this city,” said Bond, who most recently served as deputy director of meeting services for the American Astronomical Society and is currently on sabbatical. “Whenever we visit [a charitable organization], we always get everything done so much faster than they are used to, because we’re a bunch of planners. We just know how to work together well, figure things out quickly, and complete tasks quickly.”
The Capital Chapter is one of PCMA’s largest chapters and has many D.C. transplants as members. And so Bond saw her role as a way to introduce new-to-D.C. members to the local community in a meaningful way.
Each year, the new chair of the Community Service Committee has the opportunity to decide how they’d like their chapter to spend their time. Under Bond’s leadership, the Capital Chapter decided to volunteer on-site each quarter in order to cover a wide variety of charitable causes in addition to collecting money and items during the Capital Chapter’s monthly educational and networking events, including on Global Meetings Industry Day.
Community service is not just for people who are able to devote time on-site at local charitable organizations. That’s why Bond was sure to partner with organizations that allowed for multiple ways to give back. Each organization needed a one-day on-site volunteer opportunity; a way to donate items, such as food, clothing, or toiletries; and a way to accept monetary donations. That way, Bond said, all members had the chance to take part even if they couldn’t give time or money, “but they had some T-shirts or food,” she said. “Everyone would have a chance to participate in a way that they felt comfortable doing.”
Here’s a look at some of the charitable organizations the Capital Chapter contributed to during Bond’s term and the ways members helped:
Joyful Food Market and Martha’s Table
Capital Chapter members helped pack hundreds of meals for Joyful Food Market shoppers in addition to donating more than 140 boxed, canned, and jarred food items. Martha’s Table is a national organization that works to bring food to children in need. In the D.C. area, students and their families are provided help through Joyful Food Market, a pop-up that provides free, healthy food. “The students get a voucher, and they’re allowed to come in and grab … carrots, two juices, etcetera, but they need all the volunteers to facilitate the lines,” Bond said.
Humane Rescue Alliance
A partnership between the Washington Humane Society and the Washington Animal Rescue League, the Humane Rescue Alliance’s mission is to protect and rescue animals in the D.C. area. For the Capital Chapter’s volunteer opportunity, 27 volunteers helped create 70 dog toys, all of which were made from 146 T-shirts that members donated to the organization. The Capital Chapter also raised $1,200 for the Humane Rescue Alliance, enough to become honorary adoptees to four cats and four dogs. This opportunity was presented by a Community Service Committee member who was a regular Human Rescue Alliance volunteer, “so she was the liaison and the champion of that quarterly event,” Bond said. “We usually choose charities because [a member] has a connection with a need that’s in the city.”
The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Located in Bethesda, Maryland, The Children’s Inn at NIH is a sanctuary for families with seriously ill children who are participating in research at NIH. The inn asks for volunteers to come in and cook for the families, “so we collected some food,” Bond said, “and cooked for these families who are there caring for their children 24/7.”
AARP Meal Pack Challenge
In 2017, the AARP Foundation launched an initiative to pack one million meals for older adults in need, and approximately 50 Capital Chapter members joined volunteers on the National Mall to help out. Bond described the event as an opportunity that popped up at the last minute, and members were happy to jump on some spontaneous ways to give back. “We just wanted to do as much as we could, Bond said. “Our term was coming to an end, but I said, ‘If we can do it, let’s do it.’”