I have been the executive director of the Virginia Hemophilia Foundation (VHF) for nearly 10 years. It has been tremendously rewarding as VHF has grown and become a significant resource to educate, advocate and support the bleeding disorders community. We have experienced significant success in expanding our programming, increasing our scholarship opportunities, enlarging our membership and advocating for the important issues that face the bleeding disorders community. Our dedicated membership, the positive partnership with the hemophilia treatment centers in Virginia, our supportive industry friends and organizations like the National Hemophilia Foundation (NHF) have contributed to our growth, energy and accomplishments during this time.
As NHF has rolled out initiatives throughout the years, VHF has consistently said yes to those endeavors. Members have benefited from the educational trainings and workshops in several ways. They have heard advocacy updates in committee meetings, read articles in our e-newsletter from NHF staff and participated in the “Work for You” program during our annual meeting. Some helped create a teen program after three representatives attended the Steps for Living “Train the Trainer” educational program. (See “Reaching Out to Local Chapters.”)
The NHF trainings and facilitated meetings have been most impactful for staff members, our board of directors and me. We’ve participated in regional leadership trainings and board retreats led by skilled and knowledgeable staff. Plus, we’ve received technical assistance for creating policies and reviewing advocacy agendas. Due to this added support, our board of directors is stronger, our fundraising efforts have grown, and our policies and procedures are better aligned with other solid nonprofits.
VHF also said yes when the capacity building grant was extended beyond staffing. After more than 35 years, VHF moved into its first “official” office on July 1, 2015. We have already seen positive results, including volunteers coming to a centralized location to help with projects that staff once did, working with a social work intern for the entire year and improving staff collaboration, which has led to more programs planned for 2016.
Earlier this year, VHF presented NHF an award at NHF’s 67th Annual Meeting in Dallas. The handcrafted plaque by Kevin O’Connor highlighted Helen Keller’s saying, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” And
how true it is!
Kelly Waters, LCSW, MSW, is executive director of the Virginia Hemophilia Foundation. To learn more or support the chapter’s mission, visit: vahemophilia.org.