Everyone’s Shoes Can Be Filled

I’ve been part of Rockford, Illinois’ GiGi’s Playhouse board before it was even a board.  Six years ago we were a group of parents, grandparents, and community members sitting around a table who all had one thing in common–a desire to help a loved one with Down syndrome.

Looking back, it seems much longer than six years ago.  I recently finished a three-year stint as board president, having followed in the footsteps of my amazing predecessor, Penny Wirtjes. During my tenure, we completed a strategic plan for the playhouse, recruited half of our current board members, added staff, completed a $100,000 capital campaign and opened GiGi University at our location.  I’m amazed at what our dedicated staff and board members have accomplished!

Similar to running a business, running a board requires one to find a middle ground between micromanaging and wholeheartedly trusting others will get the job done. When you’re working with both volunteers and paid staff, there’s a lot of grey area on responsibility verses commitment.   You need to be part cheerleader, part boss and part volunteer.

The first step is to have a plan, work the plan, but be flexible enough to modify the plan, if needed.  We completed a strategic plan for our playhouse three years ago and updated it a year ago.  It drives our work and our staff’s goals.

The second step is to have the right people sitting around the table.  Connectors. Leaders. Doers. Then step out of the way and let them run!  Check their pace, check the direction, occasionally look back to see where you’ve been but most importantly, look forward to search for who is the right one to fill your own shoes when your time as board president has run its course.

Enjoy the ride!

Pam Maher, Past Board President, Rockford


GiGi U is making an impact

Our GiGi U program has been running strong for one year. Erin Hickman, our GiGi U Coordinator, has been working hard to insure that our students are growing and getting ready for the “real” world. Enjoy a writing from one of our GiGi U students, Dylan. “My name is Dylan Miller.  I have been in… Continue Reading

Celebrating Generation G

“i have a Voice” Gala-March 18, 2017 With the launch of #generationG on 3/21.16 (World Down Syndrome Day) by our national office, we embarked on a campaign which helped us communicate better what our mission at GiGi’s is all about. It is more than a campaign, it is a mindset. Our goal is to encourage… Continue Reading

I’m home!!!

This is about Gerry, who had Math and Literacy tutoring sessions back to back at the Playhouse. This is what Gerry’s mom wrote on the tutoring evaluation forms. Gerry has improved enormously in this tutoring session!  He can count independently up to 40.  His recognition of the numbers 1-20 is nearly perfect.  Concrete understanding of… Continue Reading

GiGi’s and My Community

I love wearing anything with GiGi’s name on it and people always stop me to ask if I work there. Yesterday, while voting, one of the volunteers asked me how I knew about GiGi’s. When I told her I worked there, she told me she knows one of our families and loves what GiGi’s is… Continue Reading

A Few Words from a GiGi’s Mom

When Kendall was unexpectedly born with Down syndrome, saying we were lost would be an understatement. The hospital was of very little help to us during our time of questions, fear, and anxiety. Thank goodness we were introduced to another local GiGi’s mom (Julie Gustafson) by phone before we even left the hospital. We soon… Continue Reading

Penny’s Blog

5 1/2 years!  Time sure flies when you are having fun! So many memories…long journey…still a long way to go…day by day.  So much unknown but I am loving this GiGi’s journey. If I had to pick one memory so far from the Playhouse, it would be the memory of our very fist Friday Friends… Continue Reading

A Community Filled with HOPE

Last weekend was our Playhouse’s magical gala. This gala is a representation of what a community is all about. First, let me give you the definition of what community means: a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common; a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result… Continue Reading

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