Get to Know Genie Patterson


Genie Patterson, Volunteer Manager works at Heartland Hospice. Born in Tucson, Arizona, she graduated from the University of Arizona with BA in Anthropology and Museum Studies while working in the family business. Her family was in the restaurant business for 62 years in Tucson.

Genie Patterson, Volunteer Manager

Genie Patterson

How did you get started in this field?

I began working with volunteers and committees with my mother many years ago. She recruited me to help her with the Arizona Opera Company, Tucson Symphony, and the Tucson Arts Council. I learned by observing her, thus learning about recruiting, matching people, retention, recognition, and how to ask for money! That became a passion and I began raising funds for non-profits. The American Diabetes Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Habitat for Humanity, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. One interesting contract I had was introducing Jerry Lewis to Tucson. I worked with Clements family and Golden Eagle Distributors to plan a formal event at Centennial Hall introducing him to Tucson as MDA headquarters moved here from New York. I began loving working with people and communities.

What is one technique or strategy that you have learned in working with volunteers that has helped in your career?

I believe my technique is two fold – matching the type of volunteer you want with the cause you represent and also knowing where to find that person. The second part is keeping the contacts that have proven successful by being consistent with keeping communication with them.

What is something that you learned that has been really helpful in your career?

I have learned over the years that there are many people in the world and you will not have to worry about a shortage of volunteers. Staying positive about this will prove successful in finding them. Secondly, don’t get discouraged if you find that you are low on volunteers as one will come around the corner when you least expect it. So stay positive!

What is your strength and what is one key advice that you would give to a volunteer manager?

Remember that you are Supervisor and that means you must delegate the items you want to achieve and your volunteers will do the work to achieve the outcome. If you know how to lead with strong communication skills, job descriptions, frequent contact, and saying thank you, everything they do will fall in place.

Who have been your mentors in this field?

I mentioned earlier that my mother involved me in so many things. She is my #1 mentor. My second mentor was a Director of a Museum who took me under his wing and taught me how to present and work with boards and donors. Both have passed away.

Volunteer Manager

How do you define a volunteer manager?

“A jack of all trades”. This is the best way I would define it. The amount of talents you must possess is a very long list. One of the top is being a excellent communicator. Both is writing and orally. Also, having leadership skills. Being a good listener. Knowing when to stop talking and just listen. Know how to manage and supervise people. To be a person that is caring and resourceful. Being able to track and complete paperwork that is needed to perform the administrative tasks. There are many more.

What are some “other duties as assigned” that came with your position?

I work a lot with our Account Liaisons with PR and Special Events which I enjoy. A large part of my position is identifying and recognizing our veteran patients. Training volunteers to write their life story which entails what war they were in and how it effected their life. I have created a veteran program called “Hospice for Heroes” which is an event that is performed at bedside with the veteran patient and their family including a few staff members as well.

Describe a memorable moment with volunteers.

When I observe a volunteer that is totally enlightened after working with hospice patient. One in particular said to me “I never knew that I would receive more than I feel I gave to my patient.” Watching volunteers grow and share with me what their patient meant to them makes me feel that I have done my job right and guiding them to discover new feelings about the end of life is very rewarding.

How do you recharge or practice self-care after a long day of work?

If I feel I am stressed I leave the office and take a walk on the river bed which I am thankful for as it’s behind our office. I usually take a 15 or 20 minute walk break. I do breathing exercises as I walk, imagining that I am taking in new breath and exhaling the stress out.

When I go home after a stressful day I focus on seeing my two dogs whom I adore. They are so happy and jump all over when I come home. They wait by the door wiggling and making noises. Best therapy ever.