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The Central Midwest District UUA merged in 2013 with the Districts of Heartland and Prairie Star to form the MidAmerica Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
This site is for archival information only. For the latest events and news, please go to MidAmericaUUA.org.

CMwD Blogs

Welcome! The office for the Central Midwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association is in the process of going virtual. In this blog we’ll let you know about some of our trials, tribulations and successes. We hope you’ll comment, ask questions, and share your ideas and experiences with us. -- The CMwD Office Staff: Peggy, Gretchen, Karen, Karin, Ian, Dori, Kimberlee and Michelle. March 5, 2008

How Would the Office Assistant Do Their Job Virtually?

One key question, of course, is who is going to do what jobs to keep the CMwD office functioning, even virtually. Every year for the past years, the CMwD office has hired a 3rd or 4th year Meadville-Lombard student to be our part-time Office Assistant. The Office Assistant has a set of specific tasks, plus as time is available, works on special project. This year’s Office Assistant is Karen Mooney. Karen and I sat down on April 1 and worked out a plan that would allow the OA to take on current tasks while working Virtually for the most part.

Here are our thoughts:

  • Process Congregational Newsletters – Karen suggested we get a mailbox at Meadville for the District mail that would be near the students. She suggested I discuss this with Jim Hobart.
  • CD/DVD Library – Every year the UUA (and others) send us hundreds of CDs and DVDs of programs that would be of interest to Congregations. Mailing all of these materials would be exorbitantly expensive, so we tend to make them available at workshops and District Assembly. Karen suggested we set up “Media Travelers” - boxes of materials for Dori and for Ian to take to keep in their cars and distribute at workshops. They would be restocked in Oct or Nov or when they run low. Or, if they run out, Dori and Ian could contact the OA to restock.
  • Chalice Lighter Checks, Kiosk Mailings, District Directory – All of these items require a period of fairly intense working together, and would be difficult to do Virtually. Therefore, Karen suggested that four times a year we rent space for two days a week for 2 weeks to be spent: 1 two-week work period for Directory & 3 two-week work periods for Chalice Lighter Income processing and Kiosk. If timed it right might be able to do a review & signoff of the Kiosk in those four periods.
  • * January, weeks 3 & 4: Chalice Lighter income; Kiosk
  • * April, weeks 1 & 2: Chalice Lighter; Kiosk (& District Assembly preparations)
  • * August, weeks 4 and Sept Week 1 (and possibly Sept Week 2?): Directory & Kiosk/workshops
  • * October, weeks 3 & 4 (or October, week 4 and Nov, week 1): Chalice Lighter income; Kiosk; DVD Library update
  • * NOTE: Dori has to make these dates stick for CL and Kiosk.
  • * Possibly move all these out a week on the theory that we’ll get the bulk in then. I.e., wait at least a week after the Call, maybe two
  • Weekly Office Assistant work:
  • o Donations entry into APF Master
  • o Chalice Lighter entries into the Access Database
  • o Newsletters reviewed & culled for possible Midwesterner info, DB update, and managing & planning Kiosk mailing
  • o Database Directory updates
  • o Ad hoc requests as needed
  • Get UUA to send out packet by PDF.
  • Directory – We need to take a good look at how the Directory report is generated out of the MS Access database. There are too many formatting errors as it comes out now, and we can’t afford to spend the time to format it in Word that we did last year. Maybe get a consultant.
  • Weekly Tasks by Office Manager for Office Assistant:
  • * Weekly report of CMwD Contributions received by Congregation (out of QuickBooks)
  • * Weekly batch of CL copies (after the first two weeks)
  • Hold a weekly teleconference via Skype.
  • Tasks that the Office Assistant does now that would devolve back to the Office Manager are:
  • * Processing of check for deposit into the bank account
  • * Filing Tasks that the Office Assistant does now that would be done in another way:
  • * Mailing Chalice Lighter Call Letters – done by a mailing service
  • * Kiosk mailing – Copied at Kinko’s and done by a mailing service
  • * District Directory – Printed and mailed by a mailing service
  • * District Assembly Materials, Annual Report – Printed and mailed by a mailing service

The Office Assistant would still be required to work at District Assembly along with everyone else in the office.

Peggy Boccard & Karen Mooney

Starting Thoughts

The Central Midwest District is going virtual. Beginning in the Summer of 2008 the district plans to move out of our brick-and-mortar office in Hillside and turn our attention to creating a virtual office. We plan, not merely to go without a physical office, but to invest in creating a virtual one. We plan to systematically think through each element of our current office work and consider how that might be done virtually. We undertake this project in a spirit of adventure, learning, and exploration with the congregations we serve. Our district office is, in many ways, roughly parallel to the offices of our congregations we serve and to the offices of other UU districts. This means that we have a wonderful opportunity in this project to benefit from what others have learned and to have others in turn benefit from what we learn. If we are doing fewer paper mailings, what are the alternatives to leasing a copier? Is there a cost-effective way for a congregational office to shift to digital storage of documents? What must be saved hard copy? How does a staff remain connected if the office is virtual? If information is stored online, how do you ensure security? Where does a virtual office receive mail? Where do we store the physical stuff we must still keep? Do you lose a sense of place if you don’t have a physical place? What new things can you do in a virtual office that you could not do with a physical one? Where is the phone in a virtual office? Does a virtual office save money? At what point might it no longer be cost effective to have a postage meter?

The proposal to “go virtual” first of all poses these and a hundred other questions. In deciding to “go virtual” we are not saying that we have answers to all these questions or even that all are answerable. Rather we are saying that it is a productive time to work these questions. It is a moment when those we serve have a lot they can teach us about this and when a lot of people might benefit from what we learn.

In this spirit of making this a project focused on learning—and sharing what we learn—the staff of the Central Midwest District establishes here a blog of our adventure and invites your comments.

Peggy Boccard

Dori Davenport

Ian Evison

Karen Mooney

Gretchen Ohmann

Michelle Richards

Kimberlee Tomczak