Dear Readers, today’s Word of the Day is unique.  Or as my mom would pronounce it, you-nih-kew. Unique, no matter how you choose to pronounce it, is defined as being the only one of its kind, not like anything else.

We all have that relative who can only be described as unique (looking at you, Tuna).  The friend who is just her own self in style and way of being in the world (I’m not naming names, but you know who you are). The cat that looks like your typical orange tabby but is unlike any other cat with his own mannerisms and personality (raise your paw, Dave).  Unique. You know it when you see it or experience it.

I was fortunate enough to travel to San Jose, California a couple weeks ago to receive a BoardSource Certificate of Nonprofit Consulting after a three-day training.  Now I’m all certificated (I made that word up – it sounds way more important than certified) and feel like I have extra credibility when I facilitate for nonprofit boards.  No more trying to get by only on my charm and good looks – I am the real deal.

The uniqueness came in when I was explaining my job to the other participants who are real, live nonprofit consultants.  It’s always fun to tell people about the Center for a Vital Community because they usually respond in one of two ways: interested and excited or blank and confused. There isn’t much in between. My husband, Mike, exhibits the latter response and has for the last nine years of my tenure as CVC Director.  It’s kind of cute. Fortunately, most of the people I met at the training were interested and excited.  When I explained what the CVC does in our little piece of heaven, they were intrigued by its, dare I say, uniqueness.

To some, the CVC resembles a community foundation through our on-going nonprofit support and trainings. Beyond that, we’re an anomaly.  I have yet to find another nonprofit organization that also serves as a neutral convener, champions community initiatives, and provides leadership training.  That’s not all that makes us unique.  The fact that a county with just over 30,000 residents in northeastern Wyoming had visionaries who conceived of and created this entity nearly 20 years ago is beyond unique.  That our mission and work are still enthusiastically supported by so many is mind-blowing.

To continue the similes that start with a u, the CVC is like a unicorn!  My project coordinator, Julie, will adore that comparison.  She was a unicorn devotee before that was a thing.

As a unicorn, the CVC has the ability to do all sorts of magical things. Take our programming calendar for October.  It’s filled with all sorts of events that fall under our three emphases. On the first, we had a full-day fund development master class for our nonprofits.   On October 17 and 18, we co-sponsored and were speakers at Creating Dementia Capable Communities Wyoming Summit. This is the culmination of the three-year federal grant the Hub on Smith received to enable Sheridan County to become dementia friendly.  That grant came out of the Study Circles that the CVC hosted in 2015.

Monday, I get to interview a member of the leadership class at the Schiffer Collaborative School.  We’ve already met twice and I’m excited to learn about the impact the class has had on her life both in and out of school. I’m one of nine community members who have taken time to get to know a leadership class student this fall and we’ve all been impressed by the culture, staff, and students at the Collaborative School.

On October 22, we are sponsoring an informational session on Better Angels.  Better Angels is a nationwide grassroots movement to depolarize America.  We think of it as a companion to Community Conversations where we model how to talk about tough subjects in a civil and respectful way. Learning how to bring people of opposing political parties together in the same manner will be enlightening.

Sometimes it takes going out of town to appreciate just how unique your community and your organization really are.  I’ve always appreciated them but seeing the CVC through others’ eyes only solidifies my commitment to our work.

Sheridan County and the CVC – unique unicorns.  Even better when you say it like my mom.  Lean into those vowels.