Thursday, August 18, 2011

Creating a Community of Volunteers

This week, we’re celebrating a year of remarkable service and the graduation of our 2010-11 AmeriCorps team with a series of posts. MuseumCorps Educator Julie Burkhard shared her experience as the Volunteer Coordinator “team of one.”

Something many people don't realize is that everyone in our exhibits wearing a yellow apron is a volunteer and the Museum could not open without them.  Some are college work-study students, some are members of the community, some are families setting a positive example for other families.  They tidy exhibits, help find lost children, and most importantly, help our visitors play and learn.  One of the things that makes the Museum special is that we have so many amazing volunteers to help facilitate the learning experiences that happen here.

It is the privilege of the AmeriCorps volunteer coordinator to work closely with this group.  Since there are so many people coming and going all the time, it’s important to be a friendly face for volunteers, a person they know and they can talk to.  The volunteer coordinator helps creates a work environment where volunteers feel respected, appreciated and needed, and that what they do here makes a difference.  This happens in many different ways. We have special after-hours volunteer events like ice skating, treats during busy school vacation weeks, and birthday cards and other recognition.  There are also more logistical aspects, such as keeping track of volunteer hours and sending out a monthly volunteer newsletter. 

Being the volunteer coordinator is a neat balance of behind-the-scenes work and making sure all of our incredible volunteers know how important they are to us.  This past year has been a rewarding experience and I have loved every moment of it.

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