Please allow me to introduce myself as the new executive director for the Volunteer Center of Door County. I am both excited and honored to have the opportunity to bring my full attention and energy to serving our Door County community, helping to carry on the Volunteer Center’s track record of building and strengthening volunteerism!
I look forward to serving as liaison between the community and its charitable organizations, facilitating the advance of the area’s nonprofit agencies and working with people to develop connections that support causes they cherish.
Committed to lifelong learning, my volunteer activities over the years have provided me personally with a sense of fulfillment and purpose, but also with educational opportunities, business contacts and friendships and an understanding of the ways volunteers like to be treated. Much of my volunteer work has been as a planning committee member for various fundraising events in Racine, Milwaukee and Door County.
With more than 300 charitable organizations performing good works in Door County, there is no question volunteers are vital to the Door County community.
The story about the school children folding 1,000 paper cranes when asked by their teacher for a colleague with cancer was a touching demonstration of the beautiful acts of kindness that happen every day in our community. And for every one act, there are 1,000 more examples, like the 200 volunteers who built the YMCA’s new playground in just five hours. Or the “reading buddy” at the Boys & Girls Club of Door County who said, “I started volunteering after my wife died a year-and-a-half ago to make myself feel better. I stay because I like it here. I like the kids.”
An estimated 200,000 volunteer hours are performed yearly, or, translated to dollars and cents, volunteerism in Door County has an economic impact of a whopping $4 million annually. Yet this is not to say that the need stops there, or that all organizations should or do engage volunteers.
Those organizations that do engage volunteers on a regular basis or are considering volunteer involvement might take into consideration expert advice from Bonnie Andrews, Volunteer Milwaukee, on the 10 elements of a successful volunteer program (based on the Points of Light Foundation’s Changing the Paradigm Series and Volunteer Management Toolkit).
10 Elements of Successful Volunteer Program
1. The organization has shared values and a positive culture for volunteers. Everyone has a clear idea of the roles that volunteers should play and all believe volunteer contributions are positive and directly related to achieving the mission and goals.
2. Leadership is combined with effective management. The board and executive director encourage volunteers in all areas. There is a budget and a primary person responsible for promoting and organizing volunteers.
3. There are written policies and procedures for volunteer involvement and employees are trained to work effectively with volunteers.
4. Staff and volunteers know what is expected and there are written descriptions for all positions.
5. A variety of marketing approaches are used to recruit volunteers, including the organization’s website. Everyone participates in recruitment. Needs, expectations and benefits are included in recruitment materials.
6. There is a process for recruiting, interviewing and placing volunteers.
7. Volunteers are equipped to do their work; orientation and training is provided for all volunteers. Agency in-service training and staff meetings are open to volunteers.
8. Staff and volunteers work together effectively. Working with volunteers is considered part of every staff position and those who work well with volunteers are recognized.
9. Volunteers are valued and there is both formal and informal recognition and their stories are shared. Volunteers at every level feel respected and recognized.
10. The organization learns, grows and changes to continually improve. Volunteer involvement is regularly evaluated and people are interested in involving volunteers more effectively.
To search for volunteer opportunities throughout Door County, visit the Volunteer Center’s interactive website, volunteerdoorcounty.com, or call 920.746.7704.