Recap: Second Harvest Volunteering

On Tuesday, Magnet volunteers provided 10 hours of food packaging support to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Madison. We spent the evening cutting and sorting 40-pound cheese blocks into smaller two pound packaging, ready for shipment and delivery to local pantries. Second Harvest Food Bank is Wisconsin's largest hunger relief charity; they process and distribute more than a million pounds of food a month, and meet nearly one million requests for service each year. Their food goes directly to support local and 27 of their mobile pantries.

We had a great time working with the charity doing great things for our community. Looking to help out? Second Harvest is always looking for individual and group volunteers. Check out their website for more information. We look forward to notifying our membership of future service opportunities within Magnet.

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Event Rewind: "We Never Go Out of Style"

In May, Magnet partnered with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to host "We Never Go Out of Style" at their newly renovated, doubled-in-size Odana Road store. Their seven area thrift stores provide approximately half of the funding needed to support a large food pantry, charitable pharmacy, housing programs and other charitable efforts in the Madison community. Ralph Middlecamp, Chief Executive Officer with more than 25 years of SVdP experience, discussed the biggest lessons he learned while directing one of Madison’s largest charitable organizations. clothes



The event started with an informal store tour. Members learned about sales techniques, store design, pricing strategy and recycling efforts. The company adjacent to the store recently went out of business, and after selling their property to SVdP, the charitable organization doubled the size of the store, making for a more open and attractive customer buying environment.

The event continued with dinner off the grill: hamburgers/veggie burgers accompanied by chips, fruit, drinks and some addictive chocolate chip cookies. Members enjoyed the meal while chatting with Ralph and listening to him describe five principles that assisted him as he grew from volunteer to CEO of the organization.

First, Middlecamp shared that believing in your own career and your own work is important. You should feel that whatever product you are creating, sharing or selling is worth your time and energy to promote to others. Second, surrounding yourself with positive people and people smarter than you will help both you and your organization to grow. While some people are threatened by having those more intelligent or experienced working for them, Middlecamp noted that if he had been too insecure to hire Shopko’s former senior vice-president as SVdP’s former Director of Retail Operations (recently retired,) the organization’s stores would not be where they are today.

Middlecamp’s final three recommendations centered around focus and relationships with others. Do not let personal excuses control the organization’s destiny; instead, provide opportunities for employees to own their work and hold them (and yourself) accountable. Pick your battles. Know which principles and facets of the organization are most important and protect those, but be willing to bend at points that are less crucial when necessary. Finally, cooperation and collaboration with others leads to a better community result and ultimately a stronger organizational result.

The event finished with the Style Wars. Attendees had a limited amount of time to scour the store for clothing and accessories to complete a professional-style outfit. The winning ensemble sported a spring flair. Gift cards to an SVdP store and a box of cookies served as prizes.





Call for Magnet Board Nominations

  By: Melissa Johnson


Madison Magnet is looking to add several qualified new members to their Board of Directors.  Interested in a leadership position, gaining experience, and contributing to the community? Then keep reading, and submit your own nomination or nominate a friend.

Who is Magnet? Madison Magnet is a membership-based young professionals networking group in Madison, WI, and we focus on three main pillars: Community Involvement, Professional Development, and Social and Networking.  There are committees for each of these pillars that work to create events and membership value to connect, collaborate, and develop the talent in Madison.

About The Board Madison Magnet is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who are career professionals working in all types of different industries. The Board consists of up to 15 members who serve three-year terms. To see who is currently on the Board, please read our About page.

The primary responsibility of the Board is to provide leadership to the organization, craft the strategic vision for the organization, execute on projects and partnerships, and continue to grow and develop Magnet.

What are the Requirements? Once elected, Board Members are expected to attend monthly Board meetings, execute on projects, be ambassadors for the organization, and are strongly encouraged to attend a variety of Magnet events. Board Members are also expected to be Madison Magnet Members.

What is the process? If you're interested in joining the Board, or know of a candidate that would be a good fit, please email our President, Corinn Ploessl, at director@madisonmagnet.org with your LinkedIn profile and why you or your friend would be a good candidate for the Board.  We will accept nominations through March 31, 2015. If you're interested in learning more, please reach out or come to one of our events and talk to a current Board member!

What if I want to get involved, but not at the Board level yet? We have several committees that drive several key events. Check out our page on all of these committees, and if you'd like to get involved, please email one of the Project Leads!

We look forward to meeting you, and your contributions to the community!

Volunteering: An Untapped Source to Incidental Learning

By: Paul Quackenboss Often times in life, the best advice comes from unlikely places, but once you hear it, it hits home. In a 2011 Commencement Speech to a group of Dartmouth Graduates, Conan O'Brien (a comedian I have always really liked), had this to say:

"Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42. One's dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course." Evolution, the rising and falling of the tide, and changing course are driven by different things. It might be a new relationship, a new hobby you have never tried before, or a new company with a fresh message. It could be a boss, coworker, friend or family member that brought out or brings out the best in you.


One area that has really changed my perspective is volunteering. One of the benefits of working in Community Banking and living in a community like Madison is all the different ways to get involved. Last year I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer as a business coach with WWBIC (Wisconsin Women Business Initiative Corporation). WWBIC makes micro loans to small businesses and also educates budding entrepreneurs and business owners alike. A couple months back I was contacted by a woman who was looking to start her own small business. She had profound knowledge of her market, but just needed a little help putting her financial projection together. She was pleased with her finished product and thankful for the help, but I don't think she realized that in our couple meetings together, her and her husband also taught me a lot:

Listening - I did very little talking and try to do very little talking in the early stages of financing decisions. It's taken me a long time to learn this, but you have two ears and one mouth for a reason and its a good idea to use them in proportion. As I let the client tell her story the picture became clearer and clearer.

Meeting structure - Our meetings were informal. We didn't have agendas. What I thought we would talk about typically isn't what we ended up talking about yet our sessions were productive. Obviously depending on the group size sometimes meetings need to be more formal.

Small things make a big difference - A good global economy is driven by good national economies which are driven by good regional economies driven by good local economies. Small businesses make a huge difference.

Time will tell if the company will take off. Not all of them do, but there isn't a doubt in my mind that this woman and her husband are going to try really hard. In trying really hard and maybe failing they may come to conclusion that their business won't work, but that failure could spawn another idea that will evolve, rise and fall, and probably change course too.

Interested in making a difference?  Magnet offers plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the Madison area. Keep an eye on our events page to learn more about how you can get involved.

About the blogger: An accountant by trade, Paul has shifted gears and now works in commercial banking. Outside of work he enjoys golf, cycling, watching Wisconsin sports, catching up with family and friends, an taking a yoga class from time to time. Paul joined Magnet two years ago when he moved to Madison from Minneapolis. The Magnet Golf Outing, happy hours, and community service events such as volunteering at Badger Honor Flight and working at Second Harvest are some of his favorite Magnet activities.

Madison Magnet Volunteers at Special Olympics Bowling

By Barret Van Sicklen This past weekend Magnet members volunteered at Wisconsin Special Olympics Region 6 Regional and Sectional Bowling Tournament at Bowl-a-Vard Lanes. Special Olympics is an amazing organization that gives tens of thousands of athletes the opportunity to enjoy the spirit of competition and a vehicle to make new friends and achieve personal growth.


Magnet members assisted in a variety of ways; from assisting the athletes to announcing division winners at the awards ceremony. It was a fun and rewarding way to meet other Magnet members and give back to the community. And, of course, the smiles witnessed all day on the athletes faces were priceless.

Stay tuned for other opportunities to volunteer through Magnet.

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Sports and So Much More

Last week, Magnet hosted a Community Connection with Special Olympics Wisconsin.  Attendees were given a “tour” of the organization’s mission from President, Dennis Alldridge and Regional Director of Sports, Don Wigington.  They explained that when most people hear “Special Olympics,” they think of one annual sporting competition.  While they do host a variety of sporting events for athletes with intellectual disabilities, they do so much more.   Did you know what Special Olympics Wisconsin aims to provide access to healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities? They offer free screenings in 7 different health disciplines through their Healthy Athletes Program.  In addition to healthcare access, Special Olympics Wisconsin has created a program for creating social inclusion in schools called Project UNIFY. Project UNIFY was developed to bring together students with and without disabilities.

Special Olympics Wisconsin serves nearly 10,000 athletes in 180 communities throughout the state.  If you want to help make an impact for the 1,200+ athletes in the Madison area, we hope you’ll join Magnet on Saturday, October 18 at the Regional Bowling competition.  Magnet volunteers will be lane helpers and score keepers to support athletes during this joy-filled event – RSVP today!








Join Magnet on Saturday, September 13th to Help Clean Up the Arboretum!

Tucked away at the Southern end of Lake Wingra is the Dane County Arboretum. The Arboretum’s 1200 acres offer a place to get away from the busy hustle of life to:

  • Observe Nature: Be it bird-watching, looking at spring wildflowers, or gazing at the fall colors, there is always something to marvel about within the Arboretum's many ecological niches.
  • Hike and Walk: Hiking and walking trails throughout the Arboretum make for a great escape for a walk or hike.
  • Bike and Jog: Bikers and joggers can travel over 4 miles of paved road through woodlands, wetlands and next to Curtis prairie by following McCaffrey Drive.
  • Ski and Snowshoe: Enjoy the winter months on ski and snowshoe-designated trails.
  • Draw and Photograph: Plants and animals throughout the Arboretum make excellent subjects for drawing or photographing. Source: Dane County Arboretum Visitor Guide  

To ensure the Arboretum stays in pristine condition for all Dane County residents to enjoy year-round, the park relies on volunteers to keep it clean and maintained.

Join Magnet and the United Way of Dane County Rosenberry Society on Saturday, September 13th at the Arboretum! We will be cleaning up brush and clearing paths.

All volunteers receive the following benefits:

-Invitation to the annual Volunteer Recognition Reception (food, fun and prizes!) -Mention in the annual volunteer recognition issue of NewsLeaf, the Friends of the Arboretum newsletter -An opportunity to feel good about making a difference Source: uwarboretum.org/volunteer

Please RSVP and feel free to invite family members and a friend or two to help!