Hands on Help - Volunteers
group magazine: November-December, 1996
From: GROUP Magazine's November/December 1996 issue
Keywords: Volunteers, Time, Repeat Performance
Finding the Time
Julie Rindfleisch Granville, writing in Newsweek magazine, observes that volunteering is no longer a priority or a natural part of life in America. And those people who do volunteer often limit their contributions to one-time-only assignments.
"While practicing 'random acts of kindness' can make the world a friendlier place, what is really needed is a long-term commitment to causes that try to improve our communities," says Granville.
But what if volunteering means taking time away from one's family? While advocating a careful balance, Granville offers these arguments for choosing in favor of volunteering.
*Our involvement in church, education, or health services helps to enrich our children's environment.
*Our children learn by our example. If we want them to grow up to be caring and compassionate adults, we have to show them how.
*We demonstrate that caring for others is a responsibility we all must accept.
*We send our children the message that we care for them so much that we're doing everything we can to make their world better.
Use these thought-provoking questions from Reflections for Managers by Bruce Hyland and Merle Yost to help you examine your relationships with volunteer staff.
*Can you identify something that's personally important to each member of your team?
*When was the last time you sincerely praised someone for doing an outstanding job?
*When was the last time you asked your staff what they needed to get their job done better?
*How long does it take you to get around to admitting a mistake?
*Have you had any negative experiences because you were too quick to get involved with a person or issue?
*If you've "burned a bridge," can you repair it, and are you willing to do so?
*What situation at work is causing you discomfort now?
*What can you celebrate with your staff this month?
*What problem have you recently solved that could have been a symptom rather than the real problem?
*Is there someone you care about whom you may be guilty of overloading because he or she has a hard time setting limits?
To get great mileage out of your next training session, capture it on videotape. If your church doesn't own a video camera, and you don't know anyone who'll lend you one, here are three good reasons to rent one:
1. A videotape can help you give potential volunteers information and encouragement.
2. You can use tapes to help train new volunteers.
3. Tapes can be re-viewed as refresher courses for long-time volunteers.
For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice-no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.