Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Around Town: Getting help on Jericho Road

Last year the Jericho Road Project, based in Massachusetts, launched an outpost in the San Gabriel Valley, thanks to seed money from the Ayrshire Foundation. The Jericho Road Project matches skilled volunteers with nonprofit organizations.

Melanie Goodyear, the project's executive director and sole employee, says that the goal is “to promote community development, strengthen social services and enrich the lives of volunteers.” She maintains a roster of skilled volunteers, including IT consultants, marketing specialists, lawyers and financial experts, and matches them to the needs of the nonprofit.

“Surely you won't come to La Cañada Flintridge,” I said, over a cup of coffee at Europane.

“Why not?” Melanie asked.

“Isn't La Cañada too wealthy to merit your services?”

“Not at all,” Melanie replied.

Melanie, who has a master's degree in theology from the Claremont Colleges, explained that La Cañada's school boosters, hospital guilds, church social service groups and other organizations enrich and create a sense of community. Jericho Road will help organizations that are small, apolitical and non-sectarian. A church social action group (e.g. a soup kitchen) would be considered if there are no sermons required in exchange for the soup.

For groups that qualify, Jericho Road will do a two- or three-month assessment of ways to give the group a greater capacity to achieve the group's mission.

Depending on the initial assessment of the nonprofit, there is no limit to the types of services that Jericho Road can offer, as long as Melanie can find the right skilled volunteer. Jericho Road's seven-step match-making and project management process, has been successful with other groups. There are specific goals, with deadlines and scope for each project.

Recent projects ranged from marketing to board development. Local projects include Flights of Fancy, a story-telling nonprofit based in Sunland, Lake Avenue Church's ACTS Thrift Store, Girls on the Run and the Pasadena Senior Center.

All organizations need a little boost now and then, even organizations in La Cañada Flintridge.

Jericho Road has provided skilled volunteers in the areas of strategic planning, leadership training, legal advice, business planning, website construction, database creation, graphic design, marketing, editing, copy writing, facilitation, mediation, video production, board assessment, board development, photography and professional coaching.

“That's great,” I told Melanie, and I explained that there are dozens of volunteer organizations and non-profits based in the 91011. They range from Friends of the La Cañada Flintridge Library to the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce and Community Association. We have the La Cañada High School Friends of Drama and the La Cañada Spartan Booster Club, alongside the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association. And then there's the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge, the Lanterman House museum, the Assistance League of Flintridge that lends its support to our local schools, and the La Cañada Thursday Club, which donates scholarships to local high school seniors. The list of local nonprofits goes on and on.

“We're ready to help,” Melanie said.

If volunteers are the glue that holds a town together, then the future looks rosy for La Cañada and for Jericho Road.

For more information, contact Melanie Goodyear at (626) 319-6466, or see

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @anitabrenner.

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