It’s a Millennial Attraction At Uspiritus

“How do we get socially conscious young professionals interested in our work?”

It’s one of the most common refrains in churches and nonprofits, who seek to form long-lasting partnerships with Millennials as they fulfill their outreach ministries. In response, United Church of Christ-related Uspiritus, based in Louisville, Ky., recently launched an Ambassador Council, and it’s already making a difference.

Uspiritus serves abused and neglected youth, and works to provide greater care for vulnerable children and families Kentucky. In February, it launched the Ambassador Council in order to create a group of young professionals to serve as thoughtful leaders, advisers, and advocates for Uspiritus.

“The nonprofit community is continually looking at ways to engage Millennials … who are eager to be involved in causes in their community,” says Jim Mahanes, Uspiritus’ public relations manager. “This group is not only looking to make a difference, but they also want to gain some valuable leadership and professional experience, and network with other young professionals in their communities.”

All Ambassador Council members serve two-year, renewable terms, attend and participate in bi-monthly Council meetings, and have the option to join in activities with Uspiritus youth. They also are expected to plan and host one fundraising event each year geared toward young professionals, and assist in other fundraising  and community activities throughout the year.

“Ambassador Council members are just that, ‘ambassadors’ for Uspiritus, and we have tasked them to help spread the word about the important work we do through their own personal networks,” Mahanes says.

In addition to helping Uspiritus, Council members learn the ins and outs of a nonprofit organization and have the opportunity to network with other volunteers, partners and supporters.

The initial 19 Ambassador Council members were selected out of an “overwhelming number of applications,” says Mahanes, who adds that the volunteer work with the children already is a hit.

“The Ambassador Council volunteers with the kids on a bimonthly basis,” he says. “Each month, the Volunteer Committee [a subcommittee of the Council] plans a fun activity with the kids living at one of our campuses. We are only a few months into our first year, but the majority of the council has already expressed interest in increasing the volunteer activities.”

The hope is that the Ambassador Council “becomes one of our ‘signature’ ways to engage young professionals in Uspiritus,” says Mahanes. “We hope future Ambassador Councils are made up of people that this first group has introduced to the organization through its community activities, and that its popularity continues to grow.”

“The ultimate goal,” Mahanes adds, “is for Ambassador Council members to become so deeply engaged in our mission that they become long-term donors, volunteers, and possibly future members of our Board of Directors.”

Giving, and giving back. It’s a formula for success for Uspiritus.

 Uspiritus is a CHHSM-member ministry founded in 2012 by the merger of Bellewood Home for Children and Brooklawn Child and Family Services, two organizations that had been in operation for more than 160 years. Today, it serves children and families via residential treatment, therapeutic foster care, and community based services, through campuses in Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green, Ky.

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