Victoria Graeve-Cunningham donates her services as an organizational development consultant for various nonprofit organizations across the Omaha-Metro area. As the executive director of ThriVinci, a consulting group which helps empower nonprofit organizations, she supports a variety of causes through both skill-based volunteerism and direct service.
From being a foster parent for the Midwest Dog Rescue Network, where she has rescued over 55 dogs, to serving as the Vice President of the Board for the Omaha Area Youth Orchestra, where she has helped fundraise and served on the Policy and Procedure committee – Victoria is known for being a voice for service in her community. Victoria is today’s Daily Point of Light, and she spoke with Points of Light about her motivation to give back.
Describe your volunteer role.
In addition to donating services as ThriVinci’s Executive Director, I also volunteer as an organizational development consultant for various nonprofit organizations (e.g., Veteran Outdoor Adventures, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, City Sprouts, etc.). In my role, I have facilitated staff and volunteer development training sessions and served as the subject matter expert during strategic planning and organizational assessment projects. Most recently, I am helping the United Cerebral Palsy of Nebraska reimagine their event management processes to ensure success during fundraising events.
After serving in various roles within the Junior League of Omaha for seven years, I have been able to participate in amazing programs like A Book of My Own, which ensured over 80,000 children in our community had a book, and Project Hope Pack that provides backpacks full of necessities and comfort items to children taken out of crisis situations. Much more aligned to my strengths, I was lucky to serve on both the placement and training committees to promote volunteerism and the potential of women improving the community.
During my term on the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Council, I have helped attract and retain talent in our community by hosting and promoting opportunities for civic engagement and advocacy. As a supplement to the Chamber hosting an annual YP Summit, I crafted the inaugural State of Our City community event and managed the development of the 2017 Diversity and Inclusion project.
What inspired you to give back?
Growing up with an abusive parent in poverty, not only made me resilient, but it made me want to return the blessings granted when I was in need. I had two amazing parents take me in, not just to their home but their hearts. Being a fireman and a teacher, my parents valued making our community a better place and they instilled a service-orientation in me since I was young. I remember in high school, driving into the city 45 minutes to volunteer at the Nebraska Humane Society and University of Nebraska Medical Center. I have worked hard to try to become the best version of myself and I give back so I can help others do the same. Whether it is serving meals at the church fish fry, delivering gifts to families through the Salvation Army, or facilitating a strategic planning session, I volunteer to make a difference just like others did for me.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experience as a volunteer?
I have had some pretty crummy things happen to me in my life, and if I am not careful, it is easy to stray into the negative rather than keeping a positive outlook. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is how to engage in perspective taking. Volunteering helps to remind me what is important and what is not worth dwelling too much on. No matter how bad a situation can be, there are others out there who are going through the same thing, or possibly worse. Perspective helps remind me to take the time to be kind and to not take time sweating the small stuff.
Why do you think it’s important for other people to volunteer?
Volunteering rates are the lowest in the United States since 2002. We have to play our part in building safe and vibrant communities and it starts with service. Choosing to volunteer is committing to helping your community thrive rather than just survive. Volunteering enables each one of us to create a community we want to live in.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Victoria? Visit All For Good to find local volunteer opportunities.