2017: The Year of a New Website and New Volunteer Focuses

GOTO was founded in 2001... It's 2017 everyone, in case you didn't see the date on the header of this post. 16 years is a LONG time to have a completely volunteer run charity stay relevant, functioning, and still fulfilling its mission to provide opportunities to others.

It's hard for me to explain why I'm still part of GOTO - it's just in me at this point and I can't shake it not matter how complicated or busy my life has become over the years. Since I started volunteering with GOTO (I think that was in 2005?) I have served on pretty much every committee and the Board of Directors, started my own company, became a partner in a few other companies, got married, moved to another state 2,500+ miles away from NYC and, still, here I am plugging away on the last aspects of the new website as a Volunteer for this amazing organization. Why? It's because of the people.

Quality over quantity seems like a foreign concept these days - the more likes, the better your post was; the more followers you have, the more successful you must be. But the difference between the "now" and the "then" when it comes to GOTO and any other charitable organization I am part of (or have been part of) is that our leadership is still the same. Rainah is still at the helm, being the organizational glue that holds us together. Danny and Stephen are still our main donors supporting the scholarship program. Most of our current volunteer base are "old" compared to the volunteers we aim to recruit this year, but you know what? That's okay with me - I would rather have the best people than the most people.

2017 will be an interesting year for us as an organization. We fully understand the troubles that have plagued us for the last few years when it comes to doing business as usual...

Young professionals are not as gainfully employed as they were in the 2000's. More than this, millennials / young professionals are more into the "me" versus the "we" of the non-profit world - they want to have their charity, not be part of ours.

Most middle schoolers are tied to smart phones and computers, not interested in actually painting with their hands or acting with their bodies, there's an app for that now.

I believe that the work we do here at GOTO is more important than ever. We teach both our Volunteers and our Scholars how to take accountability for themselves and for others, how to make plans and see them through, how to ask people for support - of themselves and of others - and how to rise from defeat to face another day. It hasn't been easy, I won't sugar coat it; but we've adjusted and while we are sending fewer scholars to camp each summer, we are still sending the very best and most deserving kids to camp - and that's what GOTO does best. We receive nominations from dedicated teachers, we learn about these amazing students, we collaborate with their families, and our Volunteers make sure the GOTO community continues to flourish.

Maybe the new website with its fancy SEO and meta-data will bring in some new donors and sponsors of our efforts, and maybe it won't - all I know is that I'm very proud to still be part of one of the first charities I worked with and I had a blast going through old photos, blog posts, scholar profiles, and the like moving content from the old website to this one. The photo below is from a camp visit - everything about it makes me smile and feel incredibly grateful that GOTO still exists, that every time we asked ourselves,"how much longer can we do this?" the answer was always something along the lines of, "at least one, no two more years", and that many of the friends I first formed when I joined GOTO so very long ago are my close friends today.

I look forward to seeing GOTO continue to evolve with the new Volunteers and Scholars that come into our organization this year, and with the same good fortune for many, many years to come. Enjoy the new website, please send over any edits or suggestions too!

Sending GOTO xo's -

Kelsy (kelsy.hill@thegotogroup.org)