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Preparation for the First Annual Alumni Service Event and Reunion

TCF 14 team member, Sarita Retiz, prepping blocks to be sent to volunteers.


This past year we wanted to engage with Team Care Force and staff alumni, so our team put together an event where we could connect and serve with those who preceded us. This event was the first time TCF 14 had been in charge of the creation, promotion and execution of a large-scale service event. The purpose of this event was to engage and reunite Care Force members with their teams and others in the Care Force community. To tackle this large task, we divided the work into four distinct coordinator roles. The first of the four roles was Shipping and Packing, they oversaw sending materials to and receiving materials from volunteers. Second up was the Service Design role, they planned the service that volunteers would complete during the event. The last two roles were Budget and Resources who controlled the expenses of the event, and Recruitment and Communication who were responsible for outreach to volunteers and keeping them updated on important event logistics. Charles and I (Sarita) were both very excited to work on the Budget, Resources and Shipping team from the start because we knew that this would not be a highly sought out role for the event preparation. We wanted to handle the hands-on part of the event, or the “heavy lifting” so to speak. We definitely were lifting things alright. The team all got their role assignments on January 14 and then all the hard work began.

The Budgeting team was responsible for making sure we did not waste any money during the event and that we used as many existing resources as possible. They created the guidelines for other teammates to follow to assure our resources and money were being best utilized. The Shipping and Packing team’s goal was to control and organize the materials needed to be sent out to the volunteers, based on what was outlined by the Budgeting team. This included packing boxes for four of our different service options, making sure we had enough items to send out, and receiving the completed projects back at City Year Headquarters. We created a task list, so we knew what service activities would be completed during the event, and a prep list of activities that needed to be completed before the event. These documents helped us keep track of when we received and shipped out materials. We had weekly check-ins with the Budgeting team to discuss all the tasks we completed and still needed to complete. After a few weeks, Hugh Harlow our staff lead, noticed that the two teams (Budget and Resource, Shipping and Packing) work intertwined with one another. This led us to realize we could become a mega team that when combined would work more efficiently. After the merge, we began to go into the office in mid-February to take inventory and gathering the incoming materials. Throughout February and early March, we packed boxes and prepared the projects for the alumni volunteers. This included cutting and measuring wood and packing the soil and seeds. Then, we started to send out boxes on March 8 and sent out our last boxes were shipped on March 12.

After combining into the Shipping and Budgeting team, interactions with the other two teams did not change much. We worked very closely with the Service Design Team throughout the entire process. The service design team created and guided us all in the project creation. They worked to refine the virtual service options we had previously used, and they created some service options that were entirely new to Care Force. They kept us informed through weekly meetings by sharing important event documents. The Budgeting and Shipping team collaborated with them by confirming the number of projects that needed to be sent out and discussed what resources needed to be purchased or could be used from existing resources. While working with the Recruitment and Communications team we were able to provide them with information about the shipping timeline and dates for volunteers to pick up/drop off their boxes at Headquarters if they were based locally. They also gave us weekly updates on the registration numbers for the event which directly affects the number of boxes we were packing and sending out.

TCF 14 team member, Jake Smith, getting boxes ready to send to volunteers.

Another great way we got alums excited about the event was to involve them in the creation of an event t-shirt, which was led by a subcommittee. Early January, four members of Team Care Force formed the T-shirt design team and my role (Charles) within the team was to find vendors to produce our shirts at a reasonable price. By the second week of February, my team members had designed three different prototypes for the shirt and posted the designs on Instagram in order to ask for creative feedback from staff and Care Force alumni. Once, we got feedback from Alumni we also consulted with City Year’s creative department to get their expertise. Through that combined feedback, we were able to create two designs that that we sold from early March to the week after the event. Combined over 40 shirts were sold and the designs were well received from the alumni. I would call that a win in my book.

With the completion of our first alumni virtual event on March 25, our staff point Hugh asked the team to help him refine and improve the coordinator roles for the next Care Force Alumni Event and Reunion! One big addition we want to make is to add a Creativity and Programming coordinator role. This position will serve as the main creative director for the event and will focus on event day programming and speaking points for event speakers and Project Coordinators. We also made a few changes to the existing coordinator roles in attempt to balance the workload  more evenly and create a more equitable planning process.

This event was the first of its kind and it gave us a taste of what it really means to design an event for Care Force. Though our year may have not been considered normal due to the pandemic, piloting virtual events such as this proves that Care Force will always find a way to provide meaningful service projects for those who are willing to serve.

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