How did you get started in this field?
I served as an AmeriCorps member for several years in central Alabama, where I helped coordinate volunteers for the annual census of folks experiencing homelessness in the metro area, as well as other major events to serve people experiencing homelessness or educate the community about homelessness. I was very passionate about housing and issues related to poverty, and loved empowering others to get on board for the cause! I also helped coordinate an AmeriCorps program, and did a lot of training on capacity building and volunteerism. From there I moved to Arizona and shortly after, I found the Community Food Bank and became their Volunteer Services Manager.
What is one technique or strategy that you have used to recruit volunteers?
CFB is really fortunate to have a Community Events Manager, who works really hard to make sure that CFB has a presence at all the different tabling events that take place in our community. We do a lot of outreach this way! We also make personal appeals to our current volunteers who we think would be a good fit or be interested in a need we have (making sure we keep re-engaging folks who have already demonstrated care for our work). Of course, working our social media platforms for help has yielded a great response too!
What is something that you learned that has been really helpful in your career?
I think one of the most helpful things I’ve learned is that even though conflict and confronting problems can be stressful, more than half the time those conversations lead to really wonderful change. Looking at conflict as an opportunity to build trust and better understanding with another person really changed how I felt about conflict when it came up. The opportunity to connect, learn, grow, and watch someone grow has lead to really meaningful volunteer relationships and even more tools for me and my team members.
Who have been your mentors in this field?
Kristen Quinnan was my director at the Community Food Bank for the first two years I worked there – prior to being the Director of Community Engagement, she was the Volunteer Services Manager. I learned SO MUCH from her, and she built a really robust legacy of volunteerism at our organization. I learned so much about the depth and variety of volunteerism that can take place from Kristen’s work and leadership. Additionally, Dana Litwin is one of the most inspiring people to listen to on the national level – I’ve learned a lot from her workshops and appreciate her humor and guidance on navigating tricky situations and improving volunteer retention!