Hello, I’m Theresa!

Hey there people of the internet!

I’m Theresa Kelly, new Content Marketer/Intern/Person at VolunteerLocal hailing all the way from Elk Grove Village, IL or as I’d like to refer to it … “Chicago.”  Currently I’m a senior at Drake University studying public relations, entrepreneurial management and any other class I can take relating to health, the arts or design.


A little about me; behind my new found love for yoga, sick dance moves and smile which all happen to be very mellow sounding, my music playlist tends to lean more alternative. My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge album – love!

As an experienced volunteer and music lover intrigued by Des Moines’ startup community, I am so excited to be a part of the VolunteerLocal team. I get to work with a great team of passionate people in a cool work environment where I get to see technology innovators and big thinkers make ideas come to life every day. Not only that, but the software serves people and organizations who do a variety of really cool things for great causes like Habitat for Humanity, Des Moines Arts Festival and Summer Camp Music Festival.

I’m excited because I know VolunteerLocal is succeeding with the variety of clients we work with and the impact our software has on a client’s event planning experience, yet we still have so much room to grow and be known. The possibilities are endless at VolunteerLocal. I’d like to see our festival clientele grow, get more news media features and in general, generate more conversation with current and potential clients on the web.

If you’d like to connect follow me on Twitter at @teeekelly, on LinkedIn, or take a peek into www.theresa-kelly.com to see some of the other cool things I’ve done, I’d love to meet ya!


–       T

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Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

What kind of event sells 12,000 tickets in 42 minutes, with ticket-holders in 41 states and countries as far away as Brazil, China, Denmark and Puerto Rico? Nope, not Justin Bieber. Not even Beyonce. It’s the annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, and it happens right here in Des Moines, Iowa.

Photo cred: www.kcci.com

Now in it’s seventh year, ‘BaconFest’ (as it is affectionately coined) has become as much a staple holiday as it is a food group to many of its most devoted fans. This year’s BaconFest staff expect around 13,000 bacon enthusiasts in attendance – and when we say bacon enthusiasts, we mean it.

Each year, BaconFest is produced by the fabulous team at In Any Event, a full-service event planning company in Des Moines. “In Any Event started about ten years ago,” says Mindy Toyne, Owner of In Any Event and Event Director for the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival. “Our first event was Des Moines’ Oktoberfest. Since then, large scale public events have become our company’s core focus.”

Photo cred: Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival

The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival was born when the original founders (now dubbed the ‘Bacon Board’) sat down with Toyne over a happy afternoon of drinks and brainstorming to hammer out the concept: a festival to celebrate Iowa beer, Iowa bacon and general buffoonery. “It was pretty popular that first year,” says Toyne, “and the next year it doubled in size.”

The Bacon Board continued organizing the event on their own until it became so large that In Any Event needed to jump back in, this time with VolunteerLocal in their toolbox. “We’re able to partner with VolunteerLocal to fill crucial jobs and shifts during our major events,” Toyne explains. “A lot of times our needs from a staffing standpoint can’t be provided through an internal structure, which is what makes volunteers so important to us.”

For Toyne and the entire Bacon Board, however, it’s about more than just the bacon. It’s about improving the quality of life for Central Iowans, supporting local farmers and building that sense of camaraderie in the Midwest. “Many of these events have charity components to them as well,” adds Toyne. “BaconFest is one that gives a considerable amount of money to a handful of charities every year.”

For more festival or ticket sales information go to www.blueribbonbaconfestival.com, “like” Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival on Facebook, or follow @BRBaconfest on Twitter.


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Operation: Make a Difference

Photo cred: Far Reach Blog

Calling all nonprofits! Far Reach, a software, web-design and internet marketing company is hosting a contest for one nonprofit to win a free development project (website, software, or app) – custom-built and lightning fast. “Make a Difference is the first of our company’s eleven core values,” says Megan Horn, Marketing Specialist at Far Reach. “We decided it would be awesome if we could take one project and do it – from start to finish for a nonprofit organization in need.”

Interested nonprofits can submit their applications for consideration via Far Reach’s Facebook page. Applications are due by Sunday, January 26. Far Reach will choose up to five finalists, based on information submitted in the application, including project scope, potential impact, level of need, and more. Those finalists will collect votes to determine the final winning project, which will be announced February 17.

“The community gives to us and we want to give back.” – Megan Horn, Marketing Specialist, Far Reach

“It’s really open,” says Horn. “We purposefully didn’t put a lot of limits on what we’re willing to build. We want to see what’s out there and what people need.” Whatever it may be, the Far Reach team will attempt to finish the winning project in one weekend – a feat that touches on the company’s second core value: We’re a Team. “The weekend project is going to be a true test of that,” laughs Horn. “There’s no room for picking up slack!”

Operation: Make a Difference isn’t a surprising endeavor for those who are familiar with Far Reach and the active role this company takes to support and empower the greater community. Far Reach is a sponsor of the Technology Association’s networking event, Tech Brew, and many of the company’s employees participated in a kick-ball league last year. Horn adds, “a lot of our business is local, too.”

Want to apply? Throw your name in the hat before the January 26th deadline! And from all of us here at VolunteerLocal, may the odds be ever in your favor.

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The American Lung Association

They call it the “Vertical Mile.”

Photo cred: American Lung Association

The American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb challenges it’s participants to climb three consecutive stairwells (totaling 66 flights) in buildings throughout downtown Des Moines. “Participants can choose to climb one, two or all three buildings,” says Renee Searle, Special Events Coordinator for the American Lung Association. “They can do so as an individual climber or with a team.”

On March 16th, 2014 Iowa’s Fight for Air ‘climbers’ will conquer the stairwells of three separate downtown venues: the Downtown Des Moines Marriott (32 flights), the Hub Tower (18 flights), and EMC Insurance Companies (16 flights). “The climbers only take the elevator to go back down the steps and to the skywalks,” says Searle. For many, the skywalks in-between each building are a nice, horizontal break during the climb.

“Thanks to VolunteerLocal we are reaching more potential volunteers and sharing our mission with more people than we could have done on our own!” – Renee Searle, Special Events Coordinator, the American Lung Association

Photo cred: American Lung Association

Last year’s Fight for Air Climb raised over $200,000. These funds are channeled into education, advocacy work, and research for lung disease – a cause that, for many, is more than worthy of this breathtaking feat of vertical prowess. Whether it’s a group of local firefighters who climb the steps wearing all their gear (over 70lbs of equipment), or competitive teams from local gyms completing the climb as a fitness challenge (amen!) – 90% of every dollar they raise goes back to the mission. Pretty impressive stuff.


You might think that coordinating volunteers for an event this large would be an organizational conquest akin to that of climbing 66 flights of stairs. With VolunteerLocal, however, Searle has all the tools she needs to dominate her volunteer recruitment and coordination process.

Photo cred: American Lung Association
Photo cred: American Lung Association

“VolunteerLocal has provided us with a great way to stretch our arms and reach volunteers. It is very user-friendly, easy to set up events and provide all of the details potential volunteers need to know.” Searle began using VolunteerLocal in September. She explains, “I knew right then we would be back for all future events to come.”

Sign up to volunteer for this spring’s Fight for Air Climb in Des Moines!

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