How did you get started in this field?
After my foray in the sciences, I decided to do a service year with the Episcopal Service Corps to discern some new directions in life. I knew that the isolated world of academia was not where I was being called. So, I joined the Beloved in the Desert Episcopal Service Corps year here in Tucson, AZ.
My placement site was the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and I worked with the Community Engagement department and worked with volunteers quite a bit. It was a fantastic match, and after my year of service I was hired as the Volunteer Services Coordinator!.
What is something that you learned that has been really helpful in your career?
Communication! Communicating with volunteers about what is going on in our organization, why we’re making the decisions we are making, expressing gratitude to them, and letting them know the impact of their labor have been really helpful in retaining volunteers and developing deeper relationships with them! I wish I would have known, when I started this career, how variable and flexible one has to be with everything that is going on within the organization, particularly during a pandemic. But, over time, and with great co-workers, I have adapted. 🙂
What is your strength and what is one key advice that you would give to a volunteer manager?
A strength of mine, I think, is an ability to distill data of volunteer impact and communicate it. This has been met with great reception by our volunteers, and they’ve really enjoyed getting to see the fruit of their labor from email communications detailing, for example, how many households were helped by their labor and how many pounds of food were distributed on a given day! One bit of advice, I would say, is that this is a very collaborative position – not only within the organization, but with volunteers as well. You are all in it together, and figuring out how to navigate the skillsets of peers and volunteers for the best outcome for the organization and volunteer experience are very important.
Who have been your mentors in this field?
Mentors in the field have been my bosses, Anel Ainza and Stacy Oliver, as well as our Chief Development Officer, Sio Castillo. I think, too, mentors from my academic years would include professors that I TA’d for, where I learned how to work with students and folks coming from various backgrounds, meet them where they are at, and work from there.