Mary is thankful for the connection and relationships.
Each month from September 2019 to June 2020, PIN is pleased to share the voice of leaders of volunteers in Guelph Wellington. Participating in our Volunteer Managers Network (VMN), the experience of these leaders is enlightening and inspiring. This is Mary’s story.
- Why did you join the Volunteer Managers’ Network?
In 2008 I accepted the permanent position of Volunteer Services Coordinator at Wellington Terrace, after 15 years working as a Recreation Therapist in the same Home. It was an exciting career change for me, yet it was also daunting in the fact that I didn’t know any other leaders of volunteers at all!
When the opportunity came for me to join the Volunteer Managers’ Network, I was warmly welcomed into the group. Immediately I felt like ‘I found my people’! Many people don’t know or understand what I do in my role, and I am the only employee coordinating the volunteers in our Long Term Care Home.
When I became a member of the VMN, I felt a connection with the other members because they too were often independent and alone in the role of engaging volunteers in their own organizations. There was a shared understanding and empathy among the group.
- What have you gained from participating in the VMN?
Since becoming a member of the VMN, I have gained so much in terms of ideas, as well as support and appreciation for my work. I have learned so much from the various monthly topics, discussions and presentations throughout the years; many issues and subjects that I haven’t had to take into consideration, but are so important in society and in working with people.
There is a ‘sub group’ that some of us have created, consisting of leaders of volunteers in long term care; this too has been a valuable gain for me, as we now meet quarterly to discuss and problem-solve issues regarding this specific branch of volunteer engagement.
I have also been very fortunate to gain friends along the way over the years through the VMN!
- Why is the VMN important for leaders of volunteers?
Membership in the VMN provides an opportunity for us to leave behind our solitary offices, and come together each month for a morning of information, recognition, inspiration, understanding, humour and thought-provoking ideas.
It brings us together to a shared community where we can feel open to communicate our frustrations as well as our accomplishments, knowing others are listening with understanding and acceptance. The VMN brings leaders of volunteers together so that we can also share resources and information about our specific knowledge bases.
The VMN has given us an opportunity to be aware of other areas of volunteerism so that we can advise and suggest organizations that might prove to be a better fit, for those in the community wishing to volunteer their time and talents.
- What is a piece of advice you would give to a new leader of volunteers?
That is difficult to narrow down to one! I would definitely start with advising them to join the VMN in their area as soon as they can, when starting their role as a leader of volunteers.
I would also suggest that they become as organized as they possibly can due to the many demands and tasks that are often involved in this particular position. I would recommend that they try to take the time to really get to know their volunteers.
I was worried that I would miss working with the residents that live in our Home, and I do often miss that role to this day. The consolation is that in my role as Volunteer Services Coordinator, I have been incredibly inspired by the many wonderful people that have become members of our Volunteer Team here in our Home. Through my years of meeting so many kind and generous people, I have gained some terrific and long-lasting friendships, for which I am very grateful.
Thank you for the opportunity for me to share my thoughts and feelings about my membership in the VMN of Guelph/Wellington. I will always be thankful for the connection and relationships that have transpired through this network.
With many thanks,
Volunteer Services Coordinator, Wellington Terrace Long Term Care Home
Learn more about Wellington Terrace here.
For information on the Volunteer Managers Network, visit this link.