Be Inspired: Volunteer Stories

As I write this entry (my first blog entry ever!) I appreciate the lull of activity between two rounds of new volunteer orientation.  Our orientation in April provided many strong volunteer candidates.  Our May orientation is focused on a summer only, junior volunteer program in our Food Service and Materials Management departments.  The first summer only program at Maple Grove Hospital.  I’m excited for this new opportunity to involve youth in our organization and accommodate their increasingly chaotic schedules.

I’m not going to lie…as an introvert in an extroverted role, I can also be very worn out by orientations and interviews and follow ups.  I have a feeling that many volunteer coordinators are in my same shoes.  If you are an introvert like me you are very organized, like seeing open volunteer shifts filled, you enjoy checking tasks off your to do lists.  You enjoy empowering people in your community to give of their time and talents.  You go to bed at night feeling good about your profession and how you see yourself as a professional of service.  But, during the on boarding process you often come home exhausted by all of the talking.  You come in to work relieved when you only have one interview for the day, and dreading the days when you have 5 interviews back to back.  Not because of the time it takes from the hundreds of other tasks that you must do that day, but by the amount of talking, the repetitive nature of sharing the same messaging from applicant to applicant.  You throw you’re hands in the air after an applicant doesn’t stop playing solitaire on their phone during their interview, or blatantly says they ultimately want a job at your organization, and volunteering will help them “get their foot in the door”.  I’ve gotten really good at striking up conversation with complete strangers.  I have a list of questions to start up small talk with the junior volunteers, the college students, the working professionals, stay at home moms, the retirees.  But still, I am an introvert at heart.

So what is the point of all this babbling about being an introvert?  Well, whether you are introverted or extroverted by nature it’s beneficial to remember the good fortune we have in meeting all of the people who are drawn to serve our organization and through it, our community.  Through volunteer applicant interviews I’ve gotten the inside scoop on what it is really like to be a flight attendant.  I have learned about karate, lifeguarding, theater, swimming and pickle ball.  From my desk I have entered the worlds of finance, aerospace, photography, civil service, homeschooling, small business ownership, even the FBI.  I have been enlightened on various Christian denominations, Hindu temples and Muslim holidays.  I have sympathized with applicants whose personal experience with our hospital, or hospitals in general, have motivated them to give back in a medical setting. Applicants have taken me to Australia, Italy, India, Hawaii and many other destinations, all from the comforts of my office.  I understand the challenges and perks of being a Target Field volunteer.  Applicants have taught me about scrapbooking, card making, knitting and origami.  I know more about carpet sales than I ever thought possible.  Through the stories that applicants share in their interviews, I have been fascinated by languages, cultures, professions and hobbies that I would otherwise never know.

At the end of the day, the stories that are shared in the four walls of my office inspire me.  They keep me energized for the next round of interviews.  They remind me what a rich and diverse volunteer corps we have at Maple Grove Hospital.

Jennifer Nelson, Volunteer Services Coordinator

Maple Grove Hospital

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2 Responses to Be Inspired: Volunteer Stories

  1. This is great! I also really enjoy hearing volunteers’ stories and learning from everyone’s backgrounds. People who are active volunteers tend to be interesting, well-rounded, and engaged people in general. If they volunteer in addition to their work/school routine they usually also squeeze in other interesting activities. I like hearing about the passions and life experiences that brought them to our organization.

    Great point about introverts vs. extroverts, too. I tend to be more extroverted; I’d rather give tours all day (even when they’re repetitive) than buckle down and focus on filing and schedules. Tiring as it can be, I’m energized by connecting people to our work in that social way. Looking at this as a personality orientation helps me see what other personalities I should seek when I bring in volunteers/interns to assist with the volunteer program.

  2. Judy Lykins says:

    Great job capturing the essence of being a Volunteer Professional, and good luck with your first summer only program!

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