Mon 1 May 2006
The past few weeks at Domestic Violence Services have been spent organizing some projects that I have been working on throughout the semester. The biggest project and the one that consumed most of my time is a renovation project of two bedrooms and a bathroom. As organizer of this project, I had to recruit over 50 volunteers to help with planning, purchasing, organizing, transportation, and then the final execution of the actual makeover. Over a Friday and Saturday, with the help of my team, I was able to completely paint over two rooms and a bathroom, clean all the rooms, make new blankets, and get all new bedding for both rooms, in addition to new shower curtains and bath mats. In addition to this, I have made the first copy of my pamphlet on elder abuse in publication, although only through the computer, not a publication company. After further revisions, I will be able to print a copy off and send it to a publication company for mass production and distribution.
Throughout the “makeover” process, I became very aware of how much time and effort it takes to get a project like this started and running. It took so much time to organize the funding, the purchasing, the painting, the timing, everything! I realized also how difficult it is to coordinate times of volunteers. It is hard to get everyone on the same page and being able to participate in the same project when everyone has such different schedules. It is important to remember, though, that because the people were donating their time and effort to me and the cause, that it is important that I work with them and around their schedule and always be thankful for every minute I get. Throughout this work, I have become very aware of how people, in a time of need and/or donation, will really pull through. If you are going to try to get people to donate time or money, badgering them isn’t going to work. You have to make them feel like they really want to support the cause, make them feel like it was their idea in the first place to be generous. Through that technique, I was able to get all of the paint supplies donating and all of the time slots for working filled. All in all, it was a very successful experience and project.
Throughout the last few classes and through a few readings, pros and cons concerning the volunteer process have been addressed. When Ceceile Strand, volunteer coordinator for DVS/CP, came to our nonprofit class, she discussed the many issues that go into a volunteer program at a nonprofit organization. First and foremost, it is important to take the needs of the organization into consideration. She was saying that for the hotline work, she makes sure that all of her volunteers are only doing the hours that are conceivable for them. When I was organizing my project, I asked all of the volunteers ahead of time what weekend would work for them and then what times/days would they most likely would be able to work. My project was small-scale in the sense that it only was one weekend, not ongoing like the hotline, and therefore took less time and consideration on my part, but many of the main volunteering themes still applied. During Strand’s presentation, it was also made clear how important it is for the volunteers in all organizations to feel like their work is making a difference. With the hotline, it is apparent that the volunteers do not need encouragement constantly because of the feeling of making a difference that they feel on their own. In some organizations, though, it is important to recognize the work of your volunteers so that they are aware of how important and appreciated they are within an organization. From the readings, it is clear that sometimes volunteer hours aren’t always free. It costs money to train them, to have the supplies that they need to get their job done, to have the staff back up to support and organize their work (such as Ceceile), but that their work is invaluable.