A Day in the Life: Cherish McGowan
Well, it's almost September, and what does September mean? It means our somewhat slower-paced summer is over and we here at the UNY Conference are out of the gate running!
Every day is very different, since I, like most people here at the Conference office, have a broad list of duties and wear many hats. Many times the primary tasks that I am working on depend on what time of the year it is. My main job is always to work with all of our Conference program teams with any questions, concerns, and needs they may have, whether it's meeting set ups, travel arrangements, reimbursements, scheduling and being part of conference calls, being a source of information, or sometimes just being a sounding board for ideas, etc. It's actually great fun working with so many different teams, personalities, and styles, so things never get boring, that's for sure.
Some examples of specific things that I do on a regular basis for and with teams would be:
- I work closely with our Safe Sanctuaries Committee, attending their team meetings, scheduling their conference calls, being a source of information about background checks, the Conference's Minimum Standards, and also handling the compilation of data from the Safe Sanctuaries compliance reports that are included in the charge conference materials. I even got to travel to Nashville a few years ago for a Safe Sanctuaries convention, and that was very informative, as well as being a ton of fun!
- I work with the College Ministry Team, being the contact person at the Conference office for any scholarship and loan questions, etc. I meet with the team to go over scholarship and loan applications once I receive them and then make decisions based on each student's application. I will then follow up with the students to let them know our decision, supply them with any additional needed paperwork or documentation, and then provide all necessary paperwork to our finance department so that the students receive their money. It's incredibly rewarding to be a part of helping these students along with their education and with their future career and life goals. The applications are impressive and it is inspiring to see our young people's love for and faith in God, as well as their determination to achieve their goals.
- Throughout most of the year one of my biggest ongoing jobs is the Nominations report. It is an ever-changing, ever-fluid document with people leaving teams, being added to teams, terms ending, team structures changing, etc. I work very closely with the chair of our nominations team, Jenna Amberge, for about nine months of the year. We complete worksheets for each team, filling vacancies according to the Book of Discipline and UNY Rules, as well as trying to have representation from all districts, genders, and ethnicities, before I finally create the document itself, making sure that the quaddrenium, terms, classes, and positions are all correct for each individual on each team. It's a lot of work all year long, but it's very fulfilling when it is finally presented at Annual Conference each year (although changes usually occur five minutes after the report is presented!) The nominations report is never boring, and it never allows me to just casually work on it. It's one of those jobs that requires 110% of your concentration. I may or may not have had dreams about it.
Another responsibility that I have enjoyed so much is that I have headed up our mission project at two of our recent annual conferences, both times being with the amazing humanitarian nonprofit organization, Stop Hunger Now. Working closely with Stop Hunger Now, I have been involved with every detail of ensuring that our meal-packing events, which provide food to impoverished countries in need, are a success. When I say "working closely with", I actually mean that I eat, sleep, and breathe SHN for months! I make arrangements with the On-Center to secure the adjacent War Memorial as the event site. The War Memorial is the perfect spot - it is big enough to house all the tables, supplies, equipment, and volunteers needed to pack countless thousands of meals, which is exactly what the wonderful people of the UNY Annual Conference have done in 2014 and 2015. The War Memorial fills up with volunteers, the numerous work stations are set up with ingredients, bags, boxes, scales, measuring cups, etc., the music is booming to get everyone motivated, many folks sing right along, and the hair nets ... we can't forget the hair nets. Everyone is required to wear one. There is really no way to put into words the image of seeing hundreds of people, including Bishop Mark Webb, wearing said hair net, working together in unison, talking, laughing, and having a marvelous time, knowing that the work we are doing is so important and is helping so many people with the most basic of human needs - food. Working along with this organization and coordinating these important events has honestly been my favorite thing of anything I have done here at the Conference. It's important, it's inspirational, and it's fun. The hair nets, on the other hand...
One thing that I am very excited about that is still in its beginning stages is a new process that we are developing for new volunteers. A Volunteer On boarding subcommittee has been created, of which I am a part. We are developing a standardized new process to use for each of our Conference teams, which will provide such things as a purpose, description, and working role of the team, a handbook with team-specific information, but also with "big picture" information, and webinars for team leaders, just to start. It is very exciting, and facilitating this process will be one of my primary tasks. I can't wait to see it progress!
All in all, I greatly enjoy my work at the Conference office. It is a privilege to work for and with some incredible people. I am very excited for us to move into our new Liverpool office and start the next chapter very soon.