Make the Most of Volunteering: 10 Tips
Volunteers are essential to many homeless service agencies. Whether you are new to an organization or a seasoned pro, these tips will help you to make the most of your time as a volunteer. If your organization counts on volunteers, share these tips with the team – and add your own!
1. Dress comfortably.
You will probably be on your feet so make sure that your shoes and clothes can go the distance.
2. Show up on time and ready to work.
Chances are your program relies on volunteers, so be punctual and let someone know when you will be late or absent.
3. Let your supervisor know when you arrive.
Even if you are a regular volunteer, check in at the beginning of your shift to find out where you can pitch in.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Staff appreciate the gift of your time and want you to feel comfortable. Asking questions helps to clarify expectations for everyone.
5. Know where and when to have conversations with consumers and staff.
Many programs have rules about loitering in certain areas and prefer that volunteers finish their assigned tasks before spending time talking with consumers and team members.
6. Be open-minded.
As a volunteer, you may be asked to assist with a variety of tasks, depending on the changing needs of your agency. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
7. Know your boundaries.
Burnout is an issue for direct service providers and volunteers. Be a sensitive listener, but understand the limitations of your role. Volunteers are not expected to do the work of case managers or clinicians.
8. Have a sense of humor.
Working in homeless services brings many challenges and rewards. When you are faced with a tough situation, a little humor goes a long way.
9. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions.
You bring a different perspective that can be very valuable.
10. Remember that your contribution matters.
Volunteers are absolutely vital to many organizations!
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