Happy International Volunteer Managers Day – Day 4

Thank you for joining us for another day of volunteer manager success stories! This year has certainly had its share of challenges, but so many of you have still succeeded and thrived! It has been incredibly encouraging to hear your stories, and we are so happy to be able to share them!

We received over a hundred stories from you all, so we had to spread out our appreciation over several days! If you haven’t seen our previous posts, we encourage you to check them out to find more encouraging and inspiring stories:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

In addition to today’s celebration, we still have one more day of stories A whole week celebrating volunteer managers! Don’t forget to join us tomorrow for the last day of our celebration.

For the fourth day of celebration, we’d like to recognize the volunteer leaders that have gone above and beyond to keep their volunteers connected, engaged, and involved. With many areas requiring social distancing and even enforcing stay-at-home orders, it has been a challenge to simply stay in touch with one another. Many people have felt isolated, lonely, and helpless.

But these volunteer managers have provided their volunteers and their communities with ways to stay connected with one another and ways to stay engaged with their mission. Whether it is providing regular updates to volunteers, finding ways for volunteers to continue serving from home, or throwing volunteer appreciation events, they have made it a priority to help people be together, even when they are far apart.

Please enjoy their stories and celebrate their accomplishments!

We suspended volunteers from April 1 to October 1 because of the Pandemic. During that time I started a Facebook Group for our volunteers and posted a Question of the Day (what’s your favorite candy? etc.) to keep them engaged. Volunteers were encouraged to post photos as well. We got to know each other better and even brand new volunteers participated.

We had a weekly Zoom meeting and had good participation. Great for team-building!

During this time off, I completely revamped the volunteer program and required restart training by Nov 1. I had 150 volunteer attend either in person on by Zoom one of 12 sessions. It was a chance to be sure everyone had required background checks, a photo for Volgisitics, and forms completed. It gave us a chance to get everyone reconnected with our rich history.

Since we couldn’t have our normal Volunteer Awards Banquet, we had a ‘First Ever, Not Annual, Virtual Awards Ceremony!’ by Zoom. ‘Cocktails’ at 5:30, black tie optional. Shiny gold envelopes were mailed to qualifying volunteers with service pins and awards. They could not open them until 5:50 PM on Oct 27, 10 minutes before the Zoom Awards began. They had time to pop the microwave popcorn from their envelope and refresh drinks.

Instead of individual awards by category, we had the Top 100 Garvan People of the Year and all received a thank you coin. Top service awards were masks with ‘Top 5 Volunteer’ and our logo on them. We also named ‘Volunteer of the Quinquennium’ for the last 1/2 decade. All received passes to the Gardens and certificate for lunch at our cafe.

This created a lot of excitement for our volunteers and they didn’t feel cheated by not getting a traditional awards banquet.

– Susan H., Garvan Woodland Gardens

We are blessed to live in rural Oregon. We’ve been able to keep our Gift Shop open which allowed 10 volunteers to continue and is a tremendous morale boost for our staff.

We hosted a Volunteer Recognition Drive-Thru event and invited all current, and leave of absence, volunteers to attend. It was a great success. We had musicians playing, staff holding signs of appreciation, goody bags, and they could have their flu shot.

It was wonderful to see the many faces that we’ve not seen in several months. Great fun was had by all.

– Michelle K., CHI Mercy Health

It has definitely been a difficult year. Our Volunteers were suspended in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 virus. We’ve learned new ways of communicating with our volunteers through emails, phone calls, texting, Zoom meetings and our drive thru Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.

We recently brought back 10 of our essential volunteers to help escort visitors to the destination, plus help us find wheelchairs. We are looking forward to the day that the rest of our volunteers can return.

– Tammy M., IU Health Bloomington Hospital

Identifying innovative and creative ways to connect with volunteers virtually. I created a wholly virtual VolunTEEN Summer Program for students. Virtual engagement events to keep adult volunteers informed and interested in what our organization is doing.

– Bryanna T., Ronald McDonald House Charities Tampa Bay

About half our volunteers have returned this year and have contributed about half as many hours as in past year, so we’ve had some down time. We’ve used this time to create online resources for volunteers, including a whole new blog where volunteers can learn about our zoo animals from home and keep in touch with what is happening at the zoo.

This year has given us the opportunity to work on our communication – while volunteers are understandably taking a break, we want them invested and informed still. So we’ve kept up with monthly virtual meetings and monthly newsletters in addition to our brand new web resource.

The hope is we emerge from this season with the groundwork and foundation to rebuild quickly and solidly.

– Jared P., Zoo Knoxville

It has been a challenging year so far. We are succeeding by keeping connected with our volunteers through e-mails, phone calls and snail mail. Our on site volunteers are suspended for now but we are continuing to find ways to support the hospital by having volunteers provide service off site.

– Amy B., Ascension Mercy Hospital

I emailed our volunteers weekly. We also sent cards to let them know we were thinking of them. Many of the volunteers and myself participated in a weekly zoom gathering to share how they were doing and updates.

– Christine W., FFRPL

Our Volunteer Services team has stayed resilient and flexible dealing with all the changes that happened quickly in our organization. We have used our creativity and innovative ideas to keep programs going and staying in consistent communication with our volunteer community.

Maintaining a relationship with our volunteers and program staff has been a huge success and our team has also focused on new ways to show appreciation to all of our volunteers during this unpresented year.

Knowing we are all in this together has kept us going strong and we will continue to make sure our volunteers feel safe coming back to volunteer or can still feel connected to our organization if they are not volunteering at the time.

– Katie B., Denver Botanic Gardens

This year has been difficult due to COVID-19, we have had success with managing our volunteers by staying engaged and keeping in touch with them.

– Rebecca C., Ellis Medicine

When the pandemic hit in March, we had to temporarily suspend over 500 adult and high school volunteers. During the time they were home, we worked on creative ways to keep them engaged. We had handfuls making masks, others picking up emails and phone calls from home, and about 80 volunteers participating in a Pen Pal program with one another.

We remained connected and set up bi-weekly ZOOM Connections to keep them updated, but what they really enjoyed about it was seeing their co-workers virtually and hearing what they have been up to.

We never stopped our on-boarding process. We continued to receive applications, continued to virtually interview, continued with virtual information meetings, and continued to have our applicants complete their on-boarding work so when the time was ready to bring volunteer back, we had a large group ready to go!

We slowly began in July to bring some volunteers back in low risk/high impact areas. It has been and will continue to be a slow and methodical process, as safety is our number one concern.

– Christina S., Mills-Peninsula Medical Center

Monthly meetings online where we just introduce our selves, talk about what is going on in the community, and what is new in our lives.

– Amanda M., Master the Possibilities

We have succeeded by maintaining contact with our volunteers during COVID – 19 using mail, phone calls, emails, pet therapy videos, and surveys to check on the status of our volunteers. We have created a virtual volunteer program for UTMB Student volunteers and will be starting a Virtual Musical Concert Series for the Holidays.

– Carol A., University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston TX

Our Volunteers were not allowed to enter the facility since mid-March. I decided that I needed to stay in touch with the Volunteers so that they still felt connected and not forgotten.

I used Volgistics as my tool. I sent upbeat emails each week & asked them to share what they have been doing during the pandemic!

I have been told by so many of our Volunteers that they would look forward to these emails & that they indeed felt connected & that the emails made them smile !

– Linda H., Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix

70% of our volunteer base is comprised of people over 60, so many have not been able to volunteer regularly due to the pandemic. We always want them to know how much we care and have been able to stay connected in several ways including email, social media, newsletters, and personal phone calls.

– Amy E., Humane Society of Pinellas

Our volunteer program has changed tremendously given the state of the world today.

The rainbow through this has been the multiple ways our volunteers have been determined to continue to find ways of engaging with us as an organization and through communication with each other. Learning how to connect through the multiple social media platforms and telephone calls. Learning how to physically distance vs social distance has been a challenge met and exceeded abundantly.

I have been blessed that they still feel the importance of our mission and find avenues to pour into us both physically and mentally.

– Viola J., Evergreen Commons

We have started on-line orientations and training for the Volunteers so we can maintain our state covid-19 standards. The training materials are all new and up to date and have been working well.

– Janie D., SICSA

We established a Virtual Volunteer program for our Volunteers and in-patients. When our existing volunteers were on lockdown and unable to volunteer and our patients were not able to have visitors, we trained the volunteers to make phone calls to in-patients at our two hospitals.

Since April 1, 2020, our volunteers have made over 8,700 calls to in-patients. This helped the Volunteers feel less isolated and made them feel useful during the lockdown. It also helped our patients feel like there was someone “out there” who cared.

We are still making phone calls today! It is a huge success!

– Tammi E., MWHC

I have gained 26 new volunteers in 2020, and my Volgistics system is nearly 900 strong.

Volunteers have participated in two raffles that were targeted at them so that they could enjoy festival programming much in the way they do when there is no pandemic. They have had the chance to win prizes and see more exclusive festival programming.

I created an encouragement and oureach video for all volunteers so that I could touch base with them all virtually, face-to-face.

I have called ~100 of our older volunteers over the spring/summer/fall to make sure that they are well and keeping safe.

Lastly, I plan to have a CHF volunteer end-of-season Zoom event where we can all get together virtually and I can provide them important information about the season and steps moving into next year, 2021.

– Travis W., Chicago Humanities Festival

Having Volgsitics helped us stay connected to our volunteers by providing them an opportunity to continue helping virtually during this pandemic. We have gained new volunteers and put them through the onboarding process so they will be ready when they can be welcomed back on campus.

– Rivae C., The Legacy Senior Communities, Inc.

I have been so blown away how my volunteers have stepped up. I started in December and was hired to start the program from scratch. Nothing like starting a program and having a national pandemic hit.

I love where I work and the people we serve (Adults and children with Intellectual and developmental disabilities). Everyday I see that they are people with many abilities and our volunteers have stepped up to do what it takes to keep our consumers connected while social distancing.

Everything from making masks to being part of a daily YouTube show our volunteers adjusted and showed up!

I can’t imagine what is possible when things get back to normal.

– Chrstine R., New Star

I gave our volunteers some assignments to do from home. They made goodie bags for out team members, and encouragement cards for team members, and patients!! The volunteers really enjoyed still being involved and putting smiles on faces.

I send out newsletters monthly to inform our volunteers of things going on and also implement some fun things we can do from home.

I cannot wait to bring them back to our hospital, and looking forward to getting together again!

– Tori A., Hillcrest Hospital

We did volunteer appreciation at one hospital by driving appreciation gifts during the summer to each volunteers home-it took about 12 hours but our volunteers were so appreciative and for our high school volunteers who had not yet returned, the parents were so touched.

– Carolyn O., Kaiser Permanente NW

We keep our patient support volunteers engaged by asking them to send cards and call their Clients / Patients on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

– Maureen F., Hospice of Marion County

When Covid-19 first hit, we were forced to shut our doors to all volunteers. This continued until we were given word that we would be allowed to host 5 individual adults at any given time. While it was wonderful to see folks back around the animals, at first only a couple of people would come by, rarely ever meeting our maximum of persons on property. We decided to attack this problem with a two-pronged solution.

First, we switched to Volgistics as our volunteer management system, which would allow us to switch from paper applications to a purely digital format. We noticed an almost immediate uptick in volunteer engagement.

The second part to our solution was to switch from bi-weekly volunteer orientations, to weekly orientations. This again resulted in more engagement from the public, as people now had double the opportunity to go through training with us.

Though this virus has presented manifold problems, it has also given us the chance to see the pure beauty displayed in the public’s humanitarian efforts. To not only have all of our volunteers follow our new Covid safety procedures without issue, but also have them work just as hard in these trying times, was truly inspiring to witness.

We are truly grateful for all the love and care that our volunteers have showered on the animals in our care.

– Garrett H., Watermelon Mountain Ranch

We were able to provide ways for volunteers to connect online back in March 2020 to do volunteer work. We decided to formally launch our new volunteer program in April via online-only work and had over 100 registrants for our first volunteer event! Since then, we’ve utilized Volgistics to manage our growing program of ~450 people!

– Sara A., Ballotpedia

It has been a truly powerful and encouraging celebration so far, and we are so thankful to the volunteer managers that have shared their stories!

We also appreciate you joining us in our continued celebration. We still have several stories to share with you, so please join us again tomorrow for the last day of our celebration!