To the editor:

I have worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly two decades and was particularly distressed by the recent turmoil that engulfed the Highland County Historical Society.

Of utmost concern to me was that the infighting and unprofessional behavior by the Society’s prior trustees might create a reluctance to support local organizations.

In addition, I was concerned that volunteers, so essential to the functioning and success of nonprofits, might be unwilling to serve on governing boards and committees for fear of encountering a similar situation.

Fortunately, Mr. Hodson and others stepped up and regained control of an organization that had spun out of control.

The new slate of directors and officers instills confidence in the ability of this organization to move forward with integrity and accountability.

I trust that this organization will flourish and rebound from the embarrassing public displays of disharmony.

With that said, I believe we have an opportunity to learn from the Historical Society’s situation. Namely, the value of nonprofits in a community should never be taken for granted.

Volunteers, board members, trustees, donors and staff members work tirelessly to provide services and amenities that might not otherwise be available due to budget constraints and funding priorities. Nonprofits can access certain grant funds that are not available to government entities. They can enhance existing public services through collaboration and partnerships. They can leverage and maximize human and fiscal resources.

The economic and human impact of nonprofits on our community is immeasurable.

Nonprofits organizations need community members to volunteer and guide their efforts. However, administering and governing a nonprofit implies that the people in charge will act with integrity and manage the organization in a manner that reflects the trust that the public has placed in them.

Meetings must be open; the board must resolve differences in a respectful mature way that demonstrates their commitment to the best interest of the organization; personalities must be set aside to advance the mission of the organization; and, at no time, can those in control promote their own self-interest or personal gain.

If you have a passion for an issue or cause and you are willing to work in the manner described above, we need you!

I have had the opportunity and privilege of working with some of the most amazing volunteer board members an organization could ask for. The wisdom and expertise they bring to the board table is such an asset. They embody the very essence of the principle of “servant leadership.”

Additionally, I have witnessed, both as a board member and as an Executive Director, the results of collaboration and partnership. Our community is blessed to have nonprofits (and their volunteers) that work together to provide for the needy and provide amenities for all residents. Mostly what I see in my daily work is a spirit of cooperation and commitment, a reflection of the spirit of this community.

I sincerely hope that our Highland County community continues to reflect a spirit of cooperation and commitment and that the recent events surrounding the Historical Society provide a catalyst for action. Please step up and support a nonprofit through service or other resources. We have a good thing going in our local nonprofit world and I encourage you to get involved. You will find the rewards are great.

LuAnn Winkle
Executive Director
Turning Point Applied Learning Center