RU Blog Archives - Page 2 of 2 - ResourcesUnite!

Calling All Mentors!

Mentoring is the gift that keeps on giving. Especially when we’re talking about mentoring youth. One mentoring relationship, one connection, can change a life. I’ve seen it. You’ve seen it. The power of a mentoring relationship is palpable.

You may not know this, but there are multiple organizations in Dubuque who need mentors. But one of the roadblocks to becoming a mentor is understanding how and where to get involved. At RU we’re all about eliminating barriers so we partnered with the Dubuque Mentoring Partnership (DMP) and assisted them in creating a mentoring walk through. In a couple easy steps we will connect you to the mentoring opportunities you’re most interested in so you can start making a difference in someone’s life today.

If you have the time, the interest and the willingness to experience a whole new level of giving, please visit our Mentoring page to learn more about the organizations associated with the DMP and to begin your path to becoming a mentor.

Ever Connected

We’ve all had this experience. We’re out to eat with family or friends and a question comes up. Either no one knows the answer or there’s a debate over which answer is correct. In a matter of seconds a cell phone is pulled out and in a matter of a couple more seconds the dilemma is put to rest. Answer found.

One example of knowledge organization is Wikipedia the granddaddy of crowd sourcing. Wikipedia is created and monitored by millions of people, there is no expert, just a team of authors, a million fold. People are learning from each other. Correcting each other’s mistakes. And finding the adjacent possibles.

When it comes to social services, when it comes to changing the world, our community really doesn’t have a Wikipedia version yet. This bothers us. And so we’re starting the shift. RU is setting out to create tools to help spread information. If an organization has cornered the market on knowing the best practices of fundraising, we need that organization to be sharing their knowledge with the rest of the community.

But wait, what about competition? You might be thinking, “Why in the world would one organization want to teach another organization how to fundraise better? That’s just increasing competition!”

As charitable or social service organizations our goal is bettering our community. There is no room for competition. I agree, sometimes organizations feel vulnerable, as if there are limited resources, limited charitable funds, limited volunteers. But it’s not limited. We need to engage each other, help our fellow organizations become better; more efficient, more effective, and more sustainable.

The only limit on resources is when a community is not vibrant, not engaged. The more organizations that are engaging our community, the more opportunities and resources are available. The more people who are served and assisted through viable and effective organizational work and mission, the more citizens are available to engage in community life and missions. So the competition argument falls flat.

If every organization in a community is sharing their knowledge and resources they will receive much more than what they put in. We’re not talking about oil, or money or copper. Knowledge is easy to share and it’s unlimited. Sharing knowledge is cyclical; what comes around goes around. The more we share knowledge the smarter we become collectively.

Can We Borrow Your Brain?

Can we borrow your brain?

We’re looking for smart people. Dedicated people. Engaged people.

The kind of people who get it.

The kind of people who get it and take it to the next level.

The kind of people who will be involved.

Who will learn from others. Teach others. And grow with others.

We need well-informed people. Open-minded people.

Are you these people?

If so, come join us.

Learning As We Go

We started ResourcesUnite a couple of years ago with a vision of connecting the community to resources and to one another. That vision remains the same, but how we get there has changed dramatically. Time and time again, we found that individuals didn’t know of the services offered in our community. Our thought was to create an online directory of all community resources that is provider generated and allows the user to find exactly what they are looking for depending on their specific needs. We were sure that by building this tool, we would effectively connect the community.

Our directory is a great tool, but we quickly learned that it was not “the” tool. We learned that in order to connect people to one another in any given community, multiple tools need to be provided. We spent hours upon hours on Jon’s deck brainstorming with our white board. As the weeks and months passed, we learned a lot from our community. Through a number of meetings with individuals, organizations, companies, and community leaders, it was clear that people wanted to connect; they wanted to get involved in our community, but didn’t know how.

Fast forward two short years and we are on the verge of creating something amazing. Our vision of connecting the community has led us to the plan of creating a volunteer center for the city of Dubuque. This volunteer center is going to be so much more though. This space is going to bring people together for work and play. It’s going to be a haven for connection and inspiration. I envision people leaving their traditional work space to work inside of RU because they long for the community connection. People will go to this place because they want to learn about volunteer opportunities and they will be given all of the information and skills needed to effectively connect to the right opportunity.

I see people sitting in RU, drinking coffee with friends, and talking with great excitement about what they are doing in the community. They will inspire one another. Goals that were once thought unattainable, will be realized. More people will begin to believe that they can make a difference.

And what’s most exciting about this vision is that we recognize that we don’t know it all. This realization has led us to some amazing partnerships. We’ve been meeting with the City of Dubuque, the Greater Dubuque Community Foundation, Loras College, AmeriCorps, RSVP, St. Mark’s, the Multicultural Center, Hillcrest, Clarke University, the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, and so many other organizations/companies in the hopes of not only gaining invaluable insight, but to also create a team that will help sustain this important effort. I must say, we have assembled an all star team.

We’re incredibly excited for this next step and we are hopeful that if you are reading this, you are too.

Social Cover

If you’re reading this blog, if you’re interested in RU, you understand our goals. You see the struggles our community faces. You see its difficult for change to happen at a macro, community level. But you also see if we work together, if we become united, we can mend our community struggles. And by community I don’t mean government. By community I mean you. I mean me. I mean us.

Us as a community.

In order to make lasting change a reality, we need to inspire and engage more of our community. We need to get people to join the “tribe”. But to get them to join we need to invite them. And not only do we need to invite them, we also need to give them the freedom to create a movement. We all know what helps a movement grow; commitment, fearlessness and unabashed joy.

RU is different than most ideas, but that’s okay. We understand it’s different. We understand becoming more engaged might feel odd. There may be some hesitation to stick our necks out at such a community level, when everyone is watching. We feel it too. That’s why we want to provide the community with a “social cover”.

Social cover is a term I ran across in a video during RU’s infancy. When RU was just an idea in my head. Before it was a website and certainly before it was a nonprofit organization. I’ve searched for that video many times since but I keep coming up empty. However, I distinctly remember the video and how the seed of social cover was firmly planted in my head.

The video was recorded on a hillside in San Francisco. Hundreds of people are sitting in the grass watching a concert take place below. The video shows a man slowly walk to an open area on the hill and begin to dance in the middle of the crowd.

For some very uncomfortable minutes the man is watched by others around him. He’s perceived as strange. People keep their distance.

Then spontaneously, another person comes in from off panel and begins dancing with the lone man. There is now a pair.

Suddenly, a third. And a fourth. A fifth and a sixth.

The man doesn’t seem so strange anymore.

Over the scope of minutes, the entire hillside transforms into a mass of dancing people. The majority of the dancers are people who were sitting and judging the strange dancing man only minutes before. But now they were part of the community. They found their social cover.

What social cover do you need to become more engaged in your community?

Know Your Audience

I spend a lot of time thinking about message and how I can take my message to more people. I’m constantly reworking a presentation, creating a new advertisement, or looking for a new audience to reach. There’s been times where my message was right on and other times where it definitely fell short. I’ve learned a lot, and still have so much more to learn.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in the work of engagement is that in order to be effective, you don’t need to reach everyone.

To create change, you simply need to reach the right people. What you and I need is to connect to a group of people willing to take our message and share it with others. I often close my presentations making the point that I can’t do this work alone. In order to realize change, it takes the entire community. Truth be told though, I’m aiming that message directly at the believers; the people in the audience that will leave that room and start telling others about what they learned and how they believe in the work. These are the people that have the most influence. You get paid to do your work. They’re along for the ride simply because they believe. That is powerful. That’s the kind of stuff that changes the world.

Now in order to engage those believers you have to be the biggest believer out there. This sounds pretty obvious, but from my experience, a lot of people could work on believing their own message. Do you believe? Could you convince me?

People want to be inspired. They want to believe in something bigger than themselves, and most importantly, they want to be a part of it. You need to engage them and let them in, but not by thinking they are going to come to you. No, you need to go to them. You need to learn about them and create a message that connects with their own values and beliefs. The overlap exists, trust me.

Updates, RU Future and a Friendly Wager

ResourcesUnite just completed an amazing 6 months. We redefined our mission, redesigned our site, collaborated with the Chamber of Commerce to create the monthly Community Connections meetings, and developed the Dubuque Mentoring Project application walk through. It’s been a wild 180 days of discussion, collaboration and creation. And it’s been a blast.

As summer approaches and we take time to reflect, we begin looking forward to more ideas and collaboration. And, pardon the cliche, RU’s future is bright. We’re looking forward to tackling our upcoming projects, all in the name of changing the way we change the world.

We’ve begun work on the RU magazine, affectionately called RU Mag. We continue to meet and plan the Volunteer Center. We continue to discuss and design the RU Volunteer App. We’re continuing to think big. It’s what gets us excited; thinking big.

But recently the question hit us; why aren’t we thinking big out loud? While all this thinking is going on at our office, over lunch, in committees, or on my back deck, these are still mostly private ways of thinking big. In our envisioned world where everything is united and connect it seems pretty limiting to keep our ideas isolated from our website.

Beginning this month, Josh and I are going to begin broadcasting our thoughts. We’re going to start sharing our ideas. The good ideas and the ideas that aren’t so good. The right ideas and the wrong ideas. Our successes and our failures, for better or for worse. We’re going to write, simply to write. As an exercise in public thought. We’re giving ourselves permission to publish our ideas without concern over grammatical errors or whether the idea is correct/acceptable/too transparent. We will write even when we don’t think we have something to say, because what we find is this is how “thought experiments” works. Taking “adjacent possibles” and pulling at that little thread until the idea unravels in our laps.

Some posts will be updates about RU, some will be informational about our community, some will be ideas we’re fleshing out and some will be our dreams and aspirations. We take a tremendous amount of pleasure in thinking, collaborating, and creating community engagement tools and services. We believe you do as well so we might as well put our brains together.

This post is permission to ourselves to flesh out RU in public. Josh and I will be posting daily during the week and sporadically on weekends. One post per day by each of us. First one to blink loses and buys the winner a steak dinner at Texas Roadhouse (our go to wager). You will definitely be made aware of the outcome, most likely through a cocky blog post written be the winner.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. To make sure you don’t miss out in any updates, please follow us @resourcesunite and on Facebook. Or, if you are geeky like me, subscribe to our RSS feed. I’ve been using the excellent RSS reader Feedly and recommend it highly.

As always feel free to email us at jon(at) or josh(at) or post a comment.

What’s Your Story?

There’s something in the air.  It’s electric and I want to bottle it.  I want to learn how to reproduce it and share it with everyone.  People are pouring into our offices with countless presents for our annual gift drive in hand, and they are overjoyed to do it.  Our conference room is filling up…quickly.

We figured out a way to connect our need with the community in a way that inspires people.  We connected.  But how?  I think it’s about how we tell our story.  Everyone loves a good story, but as we all know, there are good storytellers and not so go storytellers.  I was thinking about this last night when reading a book to Isaac before bed.  I was reading “The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot,” and I was bringing my A game.  I was transitioning through a number of different alien voices, and my sound effects for the robot were believable.  I was really into it, and it was clear that Isaac was eager to get to the next page to hear more.  But he’s heard this story before.  He knew what was on the next page and he’s rarely been this excited about this particular book.

It’s evident that every one of the 22 employees and 63 volunteers of Riverview Center believe in our mission wholeheartedly.  We believe that we are going to realize our vision of a community free of violence.  We are aware of how bold that statement is, but we stand by it with confidence.  Everyone connected to Riverview Center is telling a story that they truly believe in.  You can hear it in their voices and you can see it in their eyes.  Those strongly held beliefs are now being shared with our community, resulting in amazing things.

And so we tell our story.

Be Vulnerable

I want to better connect with you and help you do the same.  But how?  I needed to go to my place and give this some more thought.  Armed only with my iPod, shuffling through various albums of Audioslave, I took to the hiking trails of Whitewater Canyon.  If you’ve never been, please ask me to take you out there sometime.  I would love to show you around.

Today was definitely a day for reflection, so I took a left and headed for the overlook.


In order for me to connect with you in a way that really matters, I know I need to make myself vulnerable, and vice versa.  That’s where the most meaningful connections are made.  This is excruciatingly difficult for me.  I rarely let myself be seen; seen for who I really am.  I put so much effort in trying to be someone who I’m not; someone who I think others want to see.  And in the end, I’m left feeling alone.

As I stood atop the overlook taking the incredible view in, I began to reflect on the experiences that I have had in my life in which I felt deeply connected to another person.  The first thing that came to mind was when I was in the Marines.  I would have given my life for any one of my peers, that much is certain.  And what’s even more interesting, if any one of those guys were to call me today, nearly 14 years removed, and tell me they needed my help with something, I’d have my bag packed and would be headed out the door in a moment’s notice…without hesitation.  No question.

What if our community felt that type of connection?  Can you imagine what might be realized?  I think about this a lot.  I believe much of the pain and struggle we experience would be eliminated.  I believe we would experience a level of happiness that has not yet been realized in our society.

I know the path we must take together is a path in which we are left feeling exposed.  If we really, truly want to realize something incredible, we must.  I’ve seen what’s at the end of the trail.  I want to share the view with you.

path to overlook

Be vulnerable.  Give me the opportunity to get to know the real you, and I promise that I will do the same.  Truth be told, I’m being vulnerable right now.  It’s been difficult for me to even write this.  I don’t care though.  It’s worth the risk.

overlook view

Fail Better

Josh recently shared an article by one of our favorite bloggers, Seth Godin. The blog post, “Non-profits have a charter to be innovators” reminded me of my favorite quote by Samuel Beckett:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Fail better. I love that phrase. It seems so oxymoronic. The idea of positive failure seems odd, but it’s so accurate. We rarely see the multiple failures which occur before success. The politician who loses several races before winning the White House. The innovator who fails with many products before launching a world changing device. The baseball pitcher who toils in the minors for years before winning the World Series. We’re so blinded by success we quickly forget the preceding struggle.

In my daily work as a mental health counselor I often use Beckett’s quote. As human beings we are fallible. We will fail countless times. But as long as we continue striving for improvement, as long as continue to fail better, we find life becomes more rewarding.

At ResourcesUnite, that’s been our goal since the beginning. Fail better. We started with some simple ideas and continued to expand as we had success in some areas and failure in others.

Seth’s blog post talks about nonprofits needing to be bolder, to be braver. It’s an intoxicating idea, one that we’ve enjoyed struggling with at RU. We are squarely in the social service field and our major goal is to assist all social service agencies and nonprofits in realizing their mission more effectively. In doing so we will all have a much greater impact on our community.

Communities have lots of problems. Fortunately, communities also have people who are driven to make a difference. So let’s continue to be a bold community. Let’s be brave in our dreams and plans. Let’s challenge the status quo and welcome failure. And then fail better.

(And let’s never forget the RU Rally Cry that started it all. Join our conversation on Facebook.)

Online Mental Health Discussions and Resources

There are several organizations which have successfully leveraged the internet to create awareness and ongoing discussion for those coping with mental health issues. Bringing awareness to mental health issues, be it law making, treatment, or supportive services, increases the likelihood that individuals and families receive the services needed to continue living successful lives.

We’ve done the homework for you and found the following online discussions which look to raise awareness and serve the population. Please note, the following links lead to Facebook groups and may require you to sign in to continue.

Mental Health America

MHA is the nation’s largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans live mentally healthier lives.

Bring Change 2 Mind

This is where the stigma ends! is helping to combat the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. Spearheaded by actress Glenn Close, the organization provides a global forum for people to share their stories and shed light on the unfair shame that’s inflicted upon those living with mental illness. With videos, news, events and more, is a hub for all resources related to eliminating mental illness stigma and discrimination.

World Federation for Mental Health

WFMH is an international multidisciplinary organization with individual, voting and affiliate members in over 100 countries. Its members include mental health professionals, citizen advocates, consumers, family caregivers and members of the general public with an interest in international mental health service, advocacy and policy issues. For 60 years, WFMH has been working to make mental health a global priority.

The mission of the World Federation for Mental Health is to promote the advancement of mental health awareness, prevention of mental disorders, advocacy, and best practice recovery focused interventions worldwide.

Psych Central

Mental health love on the Internet, since 1995.

Mental Health Foundation

We use research and practical projects to help people survive, recover from and prevent mental health problems. We are unique in the way we work. We don’t just see mental health as a medical issue. We recognise that the way we think and feel is also influenced by our emotional make up, our social and family experiences and the way we respond in different ways to events in our lives. We aim to lead the way in helping ordinary people understand and manage their own mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.