National Volunteer Appreciation Month
by Brittany Appleton, Event & Volunteer Manager
April is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only are we finally starting to experience some spring weather, but I also get a dedicated month to appreciate the AMAZING volunteers that I work with on a daily basis. As a Volunteer Manager, April has a special place in my heart as it is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, with Volunteer Appreciation Week falling April 7-13!
While our goal at Waypoint is to ensure our volunteers know how much they are appreciated year-round, we try to put in a little extra effort this time of year. Along with thank you notes, small gifts, and some treats, I decided to check in with our staff to find out why they love working with volunteers so much.
“Our team appreciates volunteers for showing compassion and support to survivors of domestic violence,” said Nelly Hill, Director of Domestic Violence Victim Services. “Whether they’re responding in the middle of the night to the emergency room or staffing our Resource & Support Line, each volunteer is available because they care deeply about the work.” Last year, Waypoint’s Domestic Violence Victim Services Program was supported by 58 volunteers who provided 5,169 hours of volunteer service to the program—that is equivalent to Waypoint hiring two additional full-time staff! The work our volunteers do to support our Domestic Violence Victim Services Program is critical to ensure we can assist as many survivors as possible throughout the seven county area we serve.
More recently, volunteers have been working with our KidsPoint Child Care Programs to support teachers in the classrooms as we work to provide children with the skills they need to thrive. Chris Hamor, Site Director for KidsPoint Downtown (one of our Learning Center & Preschools), said their volunteers “are a great help in the classrooms. They offer extra support to the teachers, which is always welcome and allows more involvement and engagement with the children.” This fall, Waypoint expanded the volunteer program to include KidsPoint Mentor opportunities, which work with the children in our Before & After School Care. The program is currently being piloted at four of our eleven sites (KidsPoint Downtown, Garfield Elementary, Hiawatha Elementary, and Jackson Elementary) with the goal of expanding into our other sites as support grows. Ellie, who is a volunteer at Garfield Elementary, has truly loved her time volunteering as a KidsPoint Mentor. “I really love being a KidsPoint Mentor because I have the opportunity to help kids of all ages learn in a fun atmosphere. I wanted to make a difference while working with kids, which is exactly what I am able to do at Waypoint.”
Our Homeless & Housing Services team are huge advocates of working with volunteers. When volunteers support the program with donation sorting, paper work, and answering phone calls, it allows staff to have more one-on-one time with clients to assist them with their housing crises. “Our volunteers are a huge value to our department,” said Roz, Program Assistant with Waypoint’s Homeless & Housing Services. “They make connections with our clients and empower themselves as advocates to end homelessness. They come up with new and innovate ideas to help all of us grow as a community.” Last year, seven volunteers shared 980 hours of their time with our Homeless & Housing Program!
Not only do volunteers support our support programs, but they work with our administrative staff as well! Volunteers and interns work with Resource Development & Marketing, Accounting, Human Resources, and Information Technology to help move our mission forward. Sharon Wilkinson, Human Resources Coordinator, has truly appreciated the support of several HR interns. “In working with volunteers in Human Resources, their efforts and giving of their time is instrumental in progressing Waypoint’s mission of inspiring people to move forward. They are such a valuable part of our organization.” I know all of our administrative staff echo Sharon’s comments—the work that our volunteers and interns do on the administrative side of things allows us to focus more on strategic thinking and long-term planning to ensure that our organization will be around for another 125 years to keep moving people forward.
I am so fortunate to work with so many amazing volunteers in my role as Event & Volunteer Manager. Their commitment to our mission and dedication to their work continues to blow me away each and every day. When I reflect on the past few years at Waypoint, I have seen that commitment continue to grow. In my first year, we worked with a little over 300 volunteers (most of them being one-time event supporters) who donated around 3,000 hours of their time. Last year, we were fortunate to work with over 400 volunteers who shared over 8,000 hours of their time with our programs—and this year they are on track to volunteer over 10,000 hours! I am truly humbled by the work our volunteers do—whether it be supporting a survivor of domestic violence in developing a safety plan to leave their abuser or developing a social media marketing plan for KidsPoint Child Care—each and every volunteer I have worked with is passionate about giving back to the community they live in. We are so fortunate to have such a large network of volunteers who have become a part of our Waypoint family. From everyone at Waypoint, thank you for sharing your time with us. Your support is truly changing lives!