By Julia Shapero

As a nonprofit that helps other charities, Jericho Road Pasadena is a little different from most volunteer organizations.

“We’re kind of an interesting nonprofit,” said Executive Director Melanie Goodyear. “We don’t help people. We help the organizations that help other people.”

Pasadena and the surrounding areas are home to over 1,700 nonprofits, which assist a community of approximately 150,000 people, 14% of whom are below poverty level. Jericho Road Pasadena helps other greater Pasadena-area nonprofits grow by matching them with volunteers, said board member Gayle Tomita-Oswald.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the organization has allowed 200 skilled volunteers to provide more than 20,000 hours of consulting to local nonprofits.

“It’s like a win-win,” said Janet McIntyre, the board chairwoman. “The volunteer gets to do meaningful, purposeful work that plays to their strengths and skills. And the nonprofit benefits from skills like client writing or website development or financial management.”

The organization was initially created through a church in Concord, Massachusetts, Goodyear said. Given the success of the model in Massachusetts, a member of the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena started researching the needs of nonprofits in the area and eventually raised funds and hired Goodyear as its first staff person, she said.

With a background in social services, Goodyear said she had seen similar organizations perform amazing work, but lack the necessary time, talent or funds.

“(In) one of my first jobs in social services, twice a year the executive director would come to staff meetings and be like, well we might be out of money, we might need to close,” she said.

“I think learning nonprofit management in the school of hard knocks really made me passionate about the fact that, if we can help nonprofits market well and have good financial infrastructure, they’re just so much more able to do their good work.”

Tomita-Oswald said she got involved with Jericho Road Pasadena because she liked that she was able to use her professional skills to help nonprofits.

“I am much better at my professional skill set of project management and account management (and) helping with website development, than I am at chopping vegetables,” Tomita-Oswald said. “And it was one of those things that I always felt like, when I was going and volunteering (at other nonprofits), I was helping, but I always felt like I wasn’t really the best volunteer.”

Many nonprofits are in particular need of assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic, McIntyre added.

“I think the needs are getting greater and greater and I think nonprofits are feeling the pinch,” she said. “With organizations being more underresourced than ever before, matching them with volunteers that can provide things that they might have to forego at a time like this is even more important now.”

Tomita-Oswald was one of two new recently added board directors. The other is Gerald Phillips, a project analyst for Economic Resources Corp. He’s been the grant manager for ERC’s infrastructure improvement project, jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration.

Tomita-Oswald is a freelance digital marketer, focused on website management and customer relationship management. Previously she worked at advertising agencies Team One/Saatchi & Saatchi LA and Genex, as well as on the client-side at Hyundai Motor America and Nissan North America. She has been an active volunteer with Jericho Road Pasadena since 2017 and is also active with the NAACP of Pasadena and the League of Women Voters, Pasadena Area. 

Jericho Road Pasadena is always looking for more volunteers, particularly in the areas of IT and marketing, Oswald said.

“If they have business skills, we’d welcome them as volunteers,” Goodyear said. “If they’re a nonprofit that hasn’t used us before, they’re welcome to call and get free services from us. If people are interested in becoming board members, we can train and place people to be on boards.”

McIntyre added she has enjoyed watching the nonprofit evolve over the years she has been involved.

“The first time I got involved with (Jericho Road Pasadena), they weren’t even quite a nonprofit yet,” she said. “They were actually affiliated with the flagship organization out of Concord, Massachusetts. And just (to see) where they’ve come, and then now being a part of it, it’s been really neat to see the progression.”

Jericho Road Pasadena