Volunteering in Action

Four drawn people of different shades standing side by side and facing away with their hands locked together and raised.

Happy Holidays, Everyone! One of the best ways to spread holiday cheer is through volunteering.  According to Wikipedia, volunteering is “when a person or a group of people freely give their time and labor for Community Service”. Volunteering can help a person to connect with others and make new friends.  You can learn new things from volunteering.  Volunteering can help build personal skills and experiences. You can learn valuable job skills from volunteering. Volunteering can even help enhance an existing career. Giving your time in even simple ways can help those in need AND improve your health and happiness!

Participants from our Values Into Action community shared their volunteer experiences with others. During three recent Participant Forums, people accepting our support shared ways they have participated in the Values Into Action community. The purpose of the forums was to share information to encourage others to take part in volunteer activities, too. We also wanted to know how people want to be acknowledged for their time.

The participant co-facilitators answered a series of questions about their volunteer experiences. Jessica, Allan, Erin, Jamie, Katlin, Michael, Paul, and Peter co-facilitated the forums. Additionally, Support Partner, Annie Kisilewicz assisted Michael and Paul with their input.

Below are highlights from the discussions:

We asked participants, what Values Into Action group/s are you currently taking part in? What group/s have you participated in before?

  • Values into Action Virtual Partnership Week planning committees & presentations
  • Charting the LifeCourse (CtLC) Ambassador’s Workgroup
  • Values Into Action Community (Wednesday) Webinars
  • Values Into Action Advisory Group
  • Project Advisory Workgroup (PAW) for PA True Friendships Grant
  • November PEAC Summit Workshop Co-Facilitator
  • Covid health and safety video clips
  • Participant Forums Co-Facilitators
  • Community Mapping Project
  • West Chester Institute for Human Development in partnership with Values Into Action

Why/how did you decide to take part in these group/s?

My natural supports and Support Partners presented me with opportunities to volunteer. They ask if I want to help.

Paul’s Support Partner helps him to learn about opportunities to volunteer. She also waits to see if it is something he wants to do.

Jessica and Erin both shared that their staff told them about opportunities to volunteer. They also helped them prepare and get materials together for the groups they decided to take part in.

Allan shared that his Support Team encouraged him a lot and Susan called and asked me to help today.  I like to learn and to help others learn about how CtLC helped me plan my life so I am now an Ambassador and can help others.

Michael’s Support Partner (Annie) told him about the opportunity to see if it was something he wanted to do. Michael said “yes”.

Jess thought the event sounded interesting and attended the initial interest meeting. She shared her strengths with the team (her art and creativity). The group helped her find ways she could help based on her skills. Jess was nervous at first. The group was accepting of her input. Also having a familiar face in the group helped her feel comfortable.  Jess’s advice “find the person who oversees that committee/group and talk to them about what you’re feeling.  The group leader can help you make connections and feel comfortable about participating.”           

Why is participation important to you?

Jamie shared that participating in the PAW has made her feel respected and that she is working for a good cause.  She is now paid to be a part of the PAW, and this came from deciding to volunteer, first.

Allan shared, “I like to get involved and to help others like me learn and plan their lives.  I heard about CtLC and wanted to attend and then apply to become an ambassador.  People respect me for what I did and that makes me feel good. Like I said, I like helping others learn about how to make a good life for themselves. I like setting an example for others, too.” Allan was paid for his participation in the Charting the LifeCourse Ambassador series. He now uses the knowledge gained to help others.

Michael asked Annie to share that he also likes to help others learn about things. Annie will ask him about taking part in things that she thinks he might have interest in.

Erin shared that she likes meeting new people and contributing to her community.

Word bubbles that say: Hopeful, Caring for Our Future, In This Together, Slowly But Surely

Can you share about how you got started in the group?

Allan shared, “Well, I was asked to lead a group for Virtual Partnership Week about how I used Charting the LifeCourse to develop my Individual Support Plan (ISP). I have done several presentations with other groups, so I said “yes”.  I have Shawn and Marvin helping me to prepare for these events.  I am also asked to take part in the Advisory Group. If feel my input is valuable.

What are some of the things you do when you take part in volunteer groups?

  • Jess created and shared her artwork for all the Virtual Partnership Week communication documents.
  • Allan is often asked to share his experiences with being a CtLC Ambassador. He also models how he uses the CtLC tools to craft the life he wants.
  • Jamie co-facilitated a “Building Friendships” session at the November PEAC Summit. She co-facilitated the session with Susan.  Jamie is now working for the PAW and participating in their meetings and activities. She shared that she started on the Advisory Board as a volunteer.
  • Michael, Allan, and Jessica created Covid video clips to share. Values used the videos to share information about the impact of Covid.

Kathy Perry suggested that we give more details about the Strategic Plan workgroups. The information could include the goal of each workgroup, when they meet, and what they will do. Susan added that Work Group leaders can reach out to people, individually, as well to get input.

How often do you take part in volunteer activities with Values?  How much time do you need to give?

  • Jamie shared that the PAW meets every week on Wednesday afternoons. She also sometimes has work to do between the meetings.
  • Allan said that people are respectful of his time and will reach out to schedule time with him to meet.
  • Jessica shared that she helped with VIA webinars once a month. For VPW, Tylin would reach out when they needed to talk about VPW work.  She was respectful of my time because I do a lot of other things and work. 

Finally, we asked, how would you like to be acknowledged for your time? Participants shared:

Most participants shared that they would like a Visa, Amazon gift, or broad retailer or restaurant gift card. There was discussion about creating a way to choose which gift cards they’d prefer. Most prefer gifts to be on one card instead of getting too many cards. A reloadable card would be best.

Each of these recognition of appreciation options is currently being considered. 

We are stronger together!

We extend a heartfelt thank you and appreciation to all volunteers with Values Into Action. If you are a part of our Values Into Action community and interested in getting more involved, please contact Susan Rowell by clicking the button below.