OMD has been acclaimed as ‘a window into the world of child welfare’, an accolade we carry carefully. Our volunteers are unique in that they are welcomed through secure doors, down fluorescent lit hallways, and into humble rooms that offer comfort to children in times of extreme stress. We share glimpses of the world from which those we serve come, but unless you’re one of us, you’ve never seen a glimpse into our world. I’ve asked one of our earliest members, trusted friend and colleague Darcy Blankenship, to give us a little tour of what she does as Volunteer Coordinator for the Vancouver offices. Here’s what she had to say.
I got a promotion two years ago. Yep, even as a volunteer for a non-profit organization, you can get promoted. I was an Office Mom who would respond to calls to come sit with kiddos as they were brought into the Children’s Administration and waiting for placement into foster families. In 2016 our Vancouver Volunteer Coordinator (and a co-founder, now Executive Director, Sarah Desjarlais) was relinquishing the Volunteer Coordinator position and I volunteered to take over.
The responsibilities of a Volunteer Coordinator include developing and maintaining a roster of on-call volunteers to respond to Children’s Administration’s requests to sit with kids, coordinating with the Children’s Administration Office Liaison to assure the program is compliant with their requirements, providing training to potential volunteers, and performing public outreach for recruiting new volunteers. Sounds like a lot of work, but it actually flows pretty well once you get it set up. I spend about 25-30 hours per month to manage the workload for our Vancouver office.
Our Vancouver Children’s Administration office staff is very large — actually, two Areas in one location. We generally average 15 requests per month for care; it takes about an hour to confirm the request details, send it out to available volunteers, then establish a schedule for the day from the responses. The Office Liaison and I hold a monthly training for interested volunteers. The class is about 1.5 hours and includes policies and practices for the program, a tour of the office, and time to complete all the necessary forms. I also attend one or more outreach events each month to spread the word about our organization and recruit new volunteers. (This often occurs in conjunction with foster parent recruitment events.)
Beyond these major duties, administrative tasks like a monthly report, updating the volunteer spreadsheet, responding to requests for information about the program, and keeping in touch with the local Office Liaison and other Volunteer Coordinators round out the workload.
I love the relationships that grow between volunteers and the kiddos even in a short visit, and I really love that the local social workers appreciate our volunteers and the way we help them to get through all the necessary work to get the kids into safe homes. For me, this is time well spent!
So that’s the nuts and bolts of what it takes to be a Volunteer Coordinator. Fairly simple, but profoundly important. Absolutely essential. OMD cannot exist in a child welfare office without a Volunteer Coordinator. If you or someone you know might be interested in this job, we’re currently looking for help at the following locations in Washington: Centralia, Monroe, Bellingham, Port Townsend, and Southwest Washington. Interested persons should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!