Spalding University named Community Partner of the Year


Spalding University President Tori Murden McClure accepts the Community Partner of the Year award from Volunteers of America CEO/President Jennifer Hancock

With 38 programs in five states and over 20,000 clients served by Volunteers of America Mid-States every year, we know that we cannot perform all of our critical work and serve the community alone. In order to operate as the highly successful and impactful organization that we are, we depend on community partners to offer objective perspectives, highly informed expertise and much needed resources.

One exceptional community partner is Spalding University, which has been an invaluable supporter for our mission for many years. That's why on June 23 at our annual Board of Directors meeting we chose to honor Spalding University as our Community Partner of the Year because of their collaborative commitment to creating positive change in the lives of not only those we serve, but also our staff.

Thanks to Spalding University's highly regarded social work program, we have created a pathway to be the most employee friendly organization that values health and wellness in all that we do. Our partnership with Spalding University first began when Volunteers of America Mid-States offered field placements for many of Spalding's social work practicum students and we have a long history of hiring those students once they graduate. Not only do former Spalding University students now work at Volunteers of America, several current faculty and staff including Spalding University President Tori Murden McClure are former Volunteers of America employees.

Over the past year the collaboration between Volunteers of America and Spalding University grew and evolved in new and innovative ways that will create a lasting impact on the health of our staff and how we care for those we serve. With the help of Spalding professor Erlene Grise-Owens, Ed.D. and many other Spalding faculty and students, we formed the Wellness Initiative Group. The goal of the Wellness Initiative is to provide resources and strategies for a sustainable culture of wellness at Volunteers of America and involves attention to agency policies and practices, organizational culture, team functioning and staff self-care. By being attuned to the wellness of our staff, we can better assist those who directly impact the livelihood of our clients.

The leadership and expertise provided by Spalding University allowed us to collect information to ensure that all employees' ideas about wellness were heard and helped us to create a highly innovative and comprehensive wellness initiative for our organization. The initiative has already shown an immediate positive impact on the culture of our organization with free mental health counseling sessions. With Spalding's help, we can ensure Volunteers of America will remain a competitive employer and an example of organizational wellness for years to come.

In 2015 we were honored to receive the Spalding University School of Social Work's inaugural partner agency of the year award. In turn, their generous and steadfast partnership over the years made them our clear and unanimous choice for Community Partner of the Year. This award was presented to President Tori Murden McClure at the annual Board of Directors meeting. Without community partners like Spalding, we would be unable to provide our far-reaching, significant services at the high quality standards we do.

No one can heal a community alone. We all need the support and expertise of one another to make the most meaningful impact on the lives of our community's most vulnerable citizens.