Happy International Volunteer Managers Day – Day 3

Welcome back for day 3 of our celebration of volunteer managers! November 5 was International Volunteer Managers Day, and we’ve collected stories from volunteer managers to share how they have succeeded this year! It has been incredible to hear how they have continued to serve their communities and organizations even in the midst of very difficult times.

If you’re joining in on the celebration for the first time today or missed any of the previous stories we’ve shared, we encourage you to go back and enjoy our previous two posts.

Day 1
Day 2

We received so many amazing responses, that we’ll still have more to share after today! So don’t forget to come back tomorrow for more!

Today, we’ll continue to show our appreciation for and celebrate volunteer managers that have shown incredible dedication, tenacity, and resilience. These leaders were determined to continue providing services and love to their communities even when faced with the extraordinary challenges that have come along with this year.

Volunteer programs all over the world and in practically every field have felt the impacts of COVID-19. Many volunteer programs have had to shut down completely or significantly reduce their services. However, these volunteer leaders persevered. If it was possible to stay open, they went above and beyond to make it happen! And those that had to shut down, were only shut down temporarily and returned with renewed conviction and passion!

Please enjoy their stories!

This 2020 the Rotary Centre for the Arts has been leading the way in bringing back arts and culture to Kelowna, British Columbia during the COVID 19 pandemic. Together, our safety efforts have resulted in being one of the few venues allowed to host a variety of Live Performances.

We have done our best to create a safe environment for all to feel comfortable and safe. This safe experience begins as soon as guests walk in the main entrance to be greeted by one of our many warm volunteers. Without the help and support of our brave volunteers, we would not have been able to re-open as easefully as we have. Thank you to all the volunteers for your patience, time, and commitment.

– Chelsea B., Rotary Centre for the Arts

Our Volunteers have gone above and beyond during all of the craziness this year. I am so proud of how they have stepped up to help our organization in so many ways. From helping our very short staff clean kennels, to spending extra time with our animals, and even stepping up to foster animals when the shelter was closed for quarantine purposes! The Cheyenne Animal Shelter is so thankful for all of our wonderful volunteers and the support they have shown this year.

– Brianna M., Cheyenne Animal Shelter

We went to an appointment only model for people interested in adopting a new pet. The intake numbers dropped in nearly all shelters which left us with less animals to care for than normal. To keep the number of people at a minimum in the shelter, I suspended most of the volunteers, only allowing our “lead” volunteers and those that had accumulated enough hours to come to the shelter to help.

I set up an appointment schedule for the volunteers so they could all see who had signed up for which time slots, assuring us of coverage and no over-lapping. The volunteers really stepped up to support the animals and the shelter during this difficult time. We are all wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing, and sanitizing our hands even more than we normally would. With this volunteer scheduling model, the shelter staff is aware of who will be available to help them.

If anything, the animals that we do have are the winners….they’ve received a lot more attention than they might have in “normal” times.

– Shelley F., Friends of Upland Animal Shelter

Hobbs is a 12,000+ acre park, so we were fortunate to have volunteers to help maintain ALL 50-miles of trails. Our park trails usage has increased substantially this year and we are grateful to have help weed eating, tree pruning, and rock kicking, and removing of fallen trees.

Volunteers also signed-up as a “first-contact outside” on the porch, cleaned the Visitor Center, helped film our new digital discovery videos, and painted numerous gates and signs during a time of unusually low manning (combined with a nearly year-long hiring freeze).

With all of the volunteer opportunities the park offers, we are fortunate to have Volgistics, which helps keep us organized with the variety of reports available, birthday reminders, and digital means for emailing and signing-up volunteers.

– Carla B., Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, Rogers AR

Our volunteers have adapted to changing needs and continue to be such an amazing asset to our organization and seniors in our community! When seniors could no longer come to the center for donated meals, our volunteers set up a system to safely deliver meals to homes. Volunteers who had been leading in-person activities learned new technology and adapted programs to a virtual format. Our volunteers continue to adapt and find new ways to help during these very strange times!

– Julie Ann B., Hollywood Senior Center

Bethesda Project addresses homelessness in Philadelphia through emergency shelter and permanent housing while providing supportive services. We suspended on-site volunteering in March, but have switched to all virtual/remote opportunities. This includes making cards, cooking and dropping off food, skill-based volunteers assisting with marketing, and our Pen Pal Program which involved volunteers writing letters back and forth with our guests and residents. This has been a great way to support our mission and the wellness of our community.

– Jeffrey I., Bethesda Project

We are a faith based organization and I really believe that God is watching over us. We had about half of our 70 volunteers a week drop out in March and April. Then many people in the area were wanting to give back so they gave us their time and willingness to work in a mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing environment of no more than 10 volunteers on a shift.

We are back up to 50 a week, so the need is still there but somehow we feed 100 clients a day from our food pantry, train and coach up 40 job seekers a week and put on a job fair once a month that connects 150 people to jobs each time. God is good!

– Tracie S., Christian HELP

We have continued to work as a team staying conscious of the COVID19 guidelines, while still being able to serve our teen mom population with their home visits from the case managers and by keeping our mentors encouraged along the way as well.

– Mary V., Woman To Woman/GCJFCS

Being a health system, we have had lots of ups and downs. For several months there were no visitors being allowed in the facility so our volunteers did not come in either. Now we have limited visitors so volunteers that feel comfortable come to help with wayfinding. Our volunteers have also stepped up to help with personal protective equipment needed during covid. They are all very much appreciated.

– Janice M., U.P. Health System Marquette

We are just now rolling up our sleeves and getting back to work. We have limited our shifts and volunteering levels to accommodate the county’s social distancing protocols. We are happy to be able to spend time with our four legged critters.

Our food bank team has reached 1,142 families needing help feeding their pets during the pandemic helping to keep animals out of the shelter. We also occasionally enjoy a zoom happy hour with all volunteers to keep them engaged.

– Lea Ann G., Montgomery County Office of Animal Services

Even though our district remains at full distant learning, our volunteers have found ways to continue to support our schools. They maintain the gardens, collect supplies for take-home learning kits, participate in virtual classrooms for adult learners and tutor in supervised math sessions.

This has taken a lot of creativity to continue to adhere to our policies and I look forward to getting even more volunteers back to help improve students’ academic success!

– Mindy P., Robbinsdale Area Schools Volunteers in Partnership

We have succeeded by helping our staff increase testing capacity for COVID-19. Our volunteers have supported our clinics, resale shops, mobile testing units, and partner pop up pantries. They serve in so many ways and are always open to helping us reach our goals. We have reached over 2400 volunteer hours supporting initiatives of the organization in the last 8 months. I love my team!

– Terra C., Howard Brown Health

Even though all our volunteer programs were suspended in mid-March, many of our volunteers began making home-made facial masks and donated them to our hospital as they sheltered in place.

Fortunately, in August, we started bringing back some of our volunteers in non-facing patient areas. Volunteers are doing mostly clerical volunteer assignments and are thrilled to be back and we are so happy to have them back!

– Carol M., OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center

I was furloughed March 23 – July 6 and since I’ve been back I’m just trying to contribute to Holston Valley Medical Center any way I can. I help out in Human Resources putting New Employee Files together and Transfers. I also help label the files and get the monthly birthday cards ready to go out. I also help audit the files to get ready for Joint Commission. I also work in the Endoscopy Dept. putting supplies and packets together for their procedures. I also make packets for the ED so the patients will have consents and Advanced Directives to sign when they come in and I also answer the phone in Clinical Engineering.

I just try to contribute to my community any way that I can and I feel blessed to have the opportunity. I don’t know who gets more out of my work the hospital or me but I feel like I do.

– Ronnie A, Holston Valley Hospital Medical Center

The Energy Corridor Route served meals to approximately nineteen clients who cheerfully thanked volunteers for the “wellness check”. Once COVID hit, dynamics changed to keep everyone safe. My team started weekly phone calls to our clients. The simple act of kindness brightens everyone’s day and keeps us positive during this strange season.

– Alice H., Ashford United Methodist Church

Wild animals still need to be fed. Even rescue ones! The Friends of Red Rock Canyon cover many areas of support for this renowned and stunning landscape just outside of Las Vegas.

Volunteers in the Desert Tortoise Habitat had to navigate a closed park for months to feed and provide water to our desert tortoise friends. Because these tortoises are rescues, they are accustomed to being fed and having water available. Volunteers provided this crucial care during a super challenging time period.

But if you were to ask the volunteers they would tell you that getting out in the open air in such a beautiful place was a “rescue” for them too!

– Rebecca D., Friends of Red Rock

Our volunteers have stepped up in this odd year in more ways than one. In the beginning of quarantine they created over 500 masks . As our state opened up they came back to work in the garden and helped the limited staff keep the garden maintained. This month, October, they have helped put on our Halloween event and have been very positive throughout this entire strange COVID-19 journey.

– Catie Y., Red Butte Garden

We transitioned our volunteering to remote, and even created a few new positions to add to our roster! Our new programs we developed have made a great impact on our clients, and we never would have found out if we hadn’t gone remote!

– Lindsey P., Alzheimer’s San Diego

We were able to recruit several new chaplains to help our staff and patients during this difficult time. Volunteers were eager to be back and have helped our staff pick up where they left off before the pandemic hit.

– Clarissa T., El Centro Regional Medical Center

Through this very unusual year of 2020, we are very blessed to have over 65% of our volunteer team return to serving our equestrians as COVID restrictions have eased.

– Jennifer S., Wings of Hope Equitherapy

Despite the closures that have been brought on by the COVID pandemic, our volunteers have worked tirelessly to make sure our animals are well taken care of and find their perfect forever homes. Our organization couldn’t do what we do without our amazing volunteers, and we’re so amazed at how dedicated they’ve been throughout this difficult time.

– Zoe B., Halifax Humane Society

We are currently in the midst of a 19 million dollar expansion that has been anticipated for over a decade and finally started in October of last year. Our need to bring on volunteers at this time while also navigating a new means of operations under public health safety protocol has been a challenge.

We’ve been able to successfully (and safely) onboard over 50 volunteers in the past two months who are vital for our day-to-day operations.

– Nicole C., Loggerhead Marinelife Center

When our museum closed in March, the majority of volunteer positions also closed. Volunteers stayed engaged throughout the closure, thanks to weekly emails and facilitated feedback conversations.

Once we opened in June, in a limited capacity, we nearly had too many volunteers to utilize for the few positions we could offer! By partnering with internal and external partners, we’ve also created new ways for volunteers to engage remotely, including with research projects, grant writing and newsletter proofreading.

– Kristen K., OMSI

During the pandemic, our volunteers rallied to make more than 900 isolation gowns, 4,000 masks, 1,000 pillows for patient comfort, and over 100 fidget mats for our isolated Alzheimer’s patients. Our Veteran volunteers geared up in full PPE and still continued to honor our patients for their service to our country.

– Stacy G., Tidewell Hospice

Starting In March 2020 about 90% of our volunteers decided to furlough leaving shifts open in critical areas. Many of our hospital departments also experienced down-sizing due to closing surgical services for two months. We also intensified the process at our main information desks, taking temperatures and limiting the number of visitors per patient.

My role changed from working with a small paid staff and many volunteers to deploying employees from down-sized departments to our information desks. This has been both a challenge and rewarding. Employees from other departments now have a healthy respect for what volunteers did for free and our administration realizes the great financial gain in having volunteers in important roles.

I’m also proud of the 10% of volunteers who chose to stay during this pandemic and glad to say that each week more dedicated volunteers return to service.

– Nancy E., Chesapeake Regional Healthcare

In spite of all the challenges, FACETS volunteers have been able to find ways to keep connecting with our clients–people struggling with homelessness and poverty–and to keep providing hot meals, homework help, supplies, and other services. I could not be prouder of this awesome group!

– Suzanne H., FACETS

We continued to place guide and service dogs with individuals with vision loss and veterans with disabilities while maintaining social distancing. We moved all volunteer trainings and events to a virtual platform and engaged volunteers through a private Facebook group. As we have slowly brought volunteers back, we have done everything possible to meet the expectations of volunteers while keeping everyone safe.

– Madison M., Southeastern Guide Dogs

We run a 24 hour senior chat line called GoldenTALK for seniors who are 60 years of age and older. Our amazing volunteers have answered over 11,000 calls since the pandemic shutdown in March of 2020, made over 100 deliveries of groceries, PPE and adult diapers per week since April of 2020, and connected over 1600 seniors to rental programs to keep them in their homes. We also issued over 1000 GoldenGRAMS to seniors which are pictures and/or letters sent to our organization by caring people from all over the nation, to be given to our senior with their deliveries.

Since we are a volunteer-based organization, we are extremely proud of our volunteers and their dedication to our organization most of all, the seniors we serve.

– Kimberly L., I Did Something Good Today Foundation

Thank you for joining us for another day of celebrating volunteer managers! We’ve been blown away by the response and are excited to continue sharing these stories! Please help us in appreciating these amazing volunteer managers by joining us again tomorrow for more!