Written by Brittany Appleton, Event & Volunteer Manager
April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, which is truly a time to celebrate all the incredible individuals and groups who make an impact at Waypoint. Especially during times of crisis and uncertainty, which we are all facing now due to the spread of COVID-19 across the country and in our community, volunteers are now more important than ever and even more deserving of recognition. While we can’t recognize our volunteers in a traditional way, we are doing our best to send our love and support virtually as we patiently wait for the day that we can all be together again.
Volunteers are an essential part of the Waypoint family. Without their support, we could not inspire nearly 7,500 individuals to move forward in their lives each and every year. As Waypoint’s Volunteer Manager, I am fortunate to be the first point-of-contact for anyone interested in volunteering with Waypoint. Whether it be a retired nurse who is looking to share their knowledge and skillset by volunteering as a victim advocate with our Domestic Violence Program or a college student needing to complete service hours for a class, I am humbled by their selfless natures and experiences they share with us every day.
Waypoint’s Shelter Services office is the first point-of-contact for anyone experiencing homeless or is at risk of becoming homeless. Volunteers in the program assist staff with answering phone calls, responding to emails, greeting clients, and so much more. “Volunteers in the Housing Department help us provide the best service in meeting households’ basic housing needs,” said J’nae, Director of Housing & Homeless Services. “Volunteers help us serve the most people possible.” So far this fiscal year, 45 volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours! This makes it possible for our Housing & Homeless Services to support thousands of clients with securing safe, stable permanent housing each year.
Volunteers are the backbone of Waypoint’s Domestic Violence Program. Because the program supports nearly 2,800 survivors each year, volunteers are critical to ensure each individual receives the support they need. We could not help as many survivors as we do without the help of our volunteers. They save lives,” said Alexis, Program Coordinator with Waypoint’s Domestic Violence Victim Services Program. I love their passion and commitment to the work we do, Alexis said. “They want to support survivors just as much as we do, and they deeply care about the most vulnerable in our community and want to help.” After completing a total of 32 hours of training, volunteers are able to assist staff in answering the 24/7 Resource & Support Line, responding to hospital calls, supporting with safety planning and fleeing assistance, and more. “ So far this year, 24 volunteers have shared over 3,300 hours!
The kiddos in our child care program love meeting new friends who come to volunteer! Our Learning Center and Preschool locations enjoy spending time with our KidsPoint Classroom Aides, and our School Age Kids appreciate the extra academic support that our KidsPoint Mentors provide. We also love our one-time volunteers who stop by the classroom to read, facilitate activities, or just play with the kids for a while. “The volunteers who work with our child care program truly embody this quote by Elizabeth Andrews: ‘Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart,’” said Ashley Meyer, Managing Director of Child Care Services. “They act as role models and develop genuine relationships with the kids, which are so important during this time of growth. The kids absolutely love spending time with our volunteers.” 55 volunteers have hung out with our kiddos for over 300 hours this year!
Volunteers even support our administrative teams, supporting the behind-the-scenes work that keeps our programs running. “Volunteers help us with our filing,” said Jackie Lee, Head Accountant. “As a general rule, filing for me does not get done in a timely manner. When volunteers help with this, it allows me to become more organized and concentrate on more critical tasks such as grant funding and child care invoicing.” Volunteers also support our Resource Development & Marketing team, Human Resources, and IT needs. We also have groups of volunteers and individual volunteers who can assist with sorting and organization donations to ensure they are available to distribute to clients when needed. “Volunteers like Kathy and Tom, who come into the office on a regular basis, are so important,” said Jackie King, Office Coordinator. “They always have a smile on their face and are a huge support with putting donations away when they are dropped off at the front desk, keeping my space organized so I can assist anyone who walks through our doors.”
This difficult time of COVID-19 has really made me appreciate all of the amazing things volunteers do, not just for Waypoint, but for the community. As I sit at home writing this blog post, I think about the friendly smiles and daily conversations I have had with volunteers who come into our office every week grateful to support our mission. The support you have shown to me, our clients, and our staff during these unprecedented times has reaffirmed my hope that we will all get through this together. You are all a part of the Waypoint family, and we will continue to move forward together, just as we have always done. I miss you all dearly and hope you and your family are safe, happy, and healthy. Continue to show compassion and uplift those around you while making sure to take care of yourself as well. Thank you for all that you have done for Waypoint and all you will do in the future. Your support is truly changing lives!