Seedlings Planting Joy. Growing Hope. All while having a bit of fun.

Operation Joy and Learning

Delivering on Promises for the Future

Operations in Action

So what operations does an Operations Manager manage?

In a team as small as ours, quite a bit! In addition to supporting the Volunteer and Agency Coordinators, our Operations Manager is responsible for a variety of warehouse operations, including purchasing. In an interview with Lauren Berryhill, we talked about some of the more obscure parts of our work at Family Giving Tree. Lauren has just ended her work with FGT as our Operations Manager in order to move across the country--more on that in our staff feature section.

What’s something unique about working in Operations at a nonprofit?

“Purchasing is a really interesting process to look at creatively--it’s basically curation.” Using monetary donations, FGT purchases items to fulfill the need in the schools and agencies we work with. Just because those items are purchased in bulk, however, doesn’t mean that they’re all the same. It’s the Ops Manager’s job to find variety in the backpacks and gifts we purchase, while maintaining a high standard of quality and trying to obtain as many as possible with that variety and quality still on the table. Looking at trends, using the info we collect from schools and agencies to determine what gifts and backpack styles will be popular, and then trying to fulfill those needs with a respect for diversity is all in a day’s work for the FGT Operations Manager.

Have you faced any unexpected challenges?

“Change--having the foresight to make necessary changes while effectively communicating those changes is really important.” Much of an Ops Manager’s work goes into defining and establishing processes, but in order to execute a plan, it needs to be communicated clearly. Being able to take feedback, implement it, and disperse information regarding change requires an understanding of the systems themselves and the people who will put those systems into action.

Lauren (above, left) makes it all run like clockwork. Even Elmo's in awe!

If there was something you’d like volunteers to know?

“It’d be really convenient for more volunteers to have an overview of what goes on in the warehouse before they arrive.” Due to the sheer volume of gifts and backpacks, and the intricate multi-step processes involved in preparing those items for distribution, volunteers don’t often touch every part of warehouse operations. Nor do they get extensive insight into the different procedures--if volunteers come in for a 2 hour shift, they don’t want to spend 45 minutes of that in training! However, Lauren things it might be useful for them to know a bit more about the process, and we’re hoping to change that this year with tutorial videos that people can watch ahead of time to broaden their understanding of our warehouse

But how is your money making a difference?

"There was a news special about 'The Jungle,' and in one of the shots, you could see a child wearing one of our backpacks," Amelia recalls. (The Jungle was a homeless encampment along Coyote Creek in Downtown San Jose, once holding as many as 300 residents.) "Large tech companies are right next to that area. That backpack might have come from a build that one of those corporations hosted." The backpacks and gifts FGT receives are delivered to the people here who need them most.

And what’s one of the best ways you can help?

“See if your company matches donations or volunteer hours. Seriously, it’s one of the most effective ways to contribute.” In addition to multiplying the impact of your gift of time or money, matching lets your company know what values their employees have. At the end of the day, corporations are made up of people, and your voice should be important to your employers!

Boba Review: MandRo Teahouse

Evelyn & Jessica’s Boba run returned this week & our FGT staff was more than happy to dive in and give MandRo Teahouse a shot!

Ordering Experience: 5/5 bubbles. Located right across the street from the office, getting to MandRo was super-quick & easy. Our Boba duo couldn’t believe that this was the FIRST time they’d ventured over there since it was so close! Ordering was quick, easy, and flawless. All of our drinks were labeled and it made for easy distribution back at the office.

Taste Factor: 4/5 bubbles. The flavor of the tea was spot on for Celeste who ordered a peach tea w/ grass jelly and boba - her first time trying grass jelly - and while there seemed to be an overabundance of boba and jelly, the tea flavor itself was great and well balanced. Jake’s mango tea was less sweet than expected but the grass jelly he ordered was pleasant.

Presentation: 5/5 bubbles. MandRo was VERY generous with their toppings, so at first glance, our staff went gaga for the generous portions! The mango tea had beautiful color and was a perfect balance to a seemingly overcast day!

Overall: 4/5 Bubbles. Quick and easy ordering, conveniently located, generous portions of toppings. Grass jelly was popular in this round of teas and it did not disappoint.

Staff Feature

Lauren Berryhill: Smooth Operator (Operations Manager…)

After five years with the FGT team, our Operations Manager Lauren Berryhill is traveling from coast to coast in her cross-country move. She’s returning to her roots in North Carolina, where she earned her Sociology B.S. from Appalachian State University, and where her combined passions for event planning, service, and organizational leadership first coalesced. Lauren’s role in ASU’s campus leadership involved her connecting students to local nonprofits who needed support. After graduating and spending time with Americorp, she came to FGT as the Volunteer Coordinator, connecting Bay Area residents to service opportunities through our organization. While she quickly thereafter moved into the role of Operations Manager, she still considers one of her biggest passions to be helping people find resources (whether that’s volunteers looking to share their time or individuals seeking aid). As Ops Manager, Lauren worked more so with the vendors that FGT collaborates with in order to meet the need we’re confronted with in this region.

Not one to shy from organization, Lauren’s next steps in North Carolina involve joining a company that supports elders in a time of transition. She’ll be assisting with home organization and planning next steps for aging individuals ready to move into a different place with perhaps unexplored opportunities in their life. She’s also excited to get back to her other passions of singing, dancing, and acrobatics. We wish her the best of luck on her journey, and are super grateful to have had her on our team for the past five years!


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