Each year we present the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award at the Volunteer Manitoba Awards. We look forward to this day because it gives us a chance to recognize one of our volunteers and the impact their work has had on the community, as well as celebrate volunteerism throughout Manitoba.
A number of organizations we worked with this year nominated their Spark volunteer and wished to recognize them for their fantastic leadership and coordination, the outcome and impact of the match on the organization’s work, the depth and quality of their expertise, and their commitment to doing pro bono work for a stronger Winnipeg.
For the months of March and April, until the the awards night, we are celebrating these nominees for the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award, and their contributions to their community through a series of volunteer profiles.
Today we are profiling Gabriela Chavez Regato.
We “lacked skill and experience using Facebook and other social media platforms.”
Last winter, The John Howard Society of Manitoba, a nonprofit that works with men involved in the justice system, came to us because their team wanted to build their online presence but, according to Aiden Enns, Communications and Special Initiatives, “lacked skill and experience using Facebook and other social media platforms.”
The organization understood the basics of Facebook but knew they could do more with the platform. They needed a social media expert that could provide training to help the organization use the tools to the best of their ability.
We knew just the right person, Gabriela.
In 2016, Gabriela came to Spark wanting to volunteer her skills in marketing and social media communications. New to the city she wanted to get involved in her new community and give back.
Her skill, knowledge, and enthusiasm was a perfect fit for John Howard.
Facebook’s “role in animating a community-oriented, non-profit organization.”
According to Aiden, “Gabriela met several times at the offices of the John Howard Society, educating and training their staff about the potential of Facebook, social media, and its role in animating a community-oriented, non-profit organization.”
“Instead of simply giving us a few extra skills” Aiden says “ she helped us step back, consider our communications goals and pinpoint the role that social media, Facebook in particular, could play in our plans. After that, she gave us increasingly difficult assignments, showed us sample pages for inspiration, and helped with a schedule for implementation.”
At the end of the match Aiden reported that the organization has “overcome a knowledge deficiency, and comfortably and confidently include Facebook as a means of communicating with the wider community.”
He went on to give an example of how this training went into immediate effect. This past winter, two large apartment fires in the Central/West End neighbourhood caused the evacuation of over one-hundred people. Because of their recent Facebook training, Aiden says John Howard was “able to post notices on Facebook saying that [they] had opened [their] building’s basement as a drop-off location, to provide a link to a community newspaper story about the event, and to respond to people asking questions about donations via Facebook.”
John Howard now has another communications tool in their tool box
John Howard now has another communications tool in their tool box and will be using social media to reach out to the community and bring further awareness to the organization and the programs they offer.
Thank you, Gabriela for your great work with John Howard!
Interested in reading other nominees’ stories? Check out S3 Interior Design Inc. here.