Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Volunteer Recruitment Coffeehouse Night in 48 Hours!

The Volunteer Recruitment Coffeehouse Night is coming SOON! It looks like there's going to be a good turnout based on response so far. Remember, even if you can come for a half hour, it's still worth it to come and check out all the different tutoring and mentoring options we have in this city. Also, if can just come to our after-party at 8pm, also please come. These are great opportunities to meet dedicated volunteers and make friends.

One of the main points that I bring up when I talk about Volunteer Recruitment is a Volunteer Retention. Once we get the volunteers how do we keep them? It's easier said than down. Being a volunteer tutor or mentor has a lot of rewards: you're helping an at-risk youth succeed, you're creating a relationship that can last for years, you're helping out a community by helping out one of it's citizens, the list goes on. However, I can also tell you that it's not always easy - it's not easy to crack the shell of any teenager, but especially a teenager who's had to survive in a rough neighborhood, or one who's lost friends and family to violence, prison, and drugs. Sometimes pairings work out perfectly from the start but often the pairings take time to build and develop. Sometimes the kids get frustrated with volunteers who only want to work on homework or volunteers get frustrated with kids who won't talk to them and open up.
We lose volunteers every year to things we can't control: changing jobs, moving for work or for other reasons, going to grad school, getting married, having babies. Unfortunately, if we're not careful, we also lose volunteers because we don't keep checks on them and their students. Here at Cabrini Connections, we have a recording system called SVHATS, or Student and Volunteer History and Tracking System. Every volunteer and their student are supposed to tell us what they did every time they meet, either here at Cabrini Connections or elsewhere. Normally a student will talk about working on their Algebra homework or looking for a job. A volunteer will write about taking their student to a Cubs game or taking them shopping for Christmas presents for their family. These are all very positive results or a student-volunteer relationship and we love to read about these experience so we can celebrate the wonderful relationship that has been built between a student and a volunteer.

However, another reason why we have SVHATS is so that we can see if anything that isn't quite right is happening as well. Is a student not respecting a tutor? Is a tutor not showing up every single time and not telling the student? These are things we want to know so we can correct any problems that might arise. We want to keep as many students and volunteers as possible. In rare occasions, we have to switch around students or volunteers and sometimes, extremely rarely, we will have to ask a volunteer or student to leave the program, but that occurs in only extreme occurrences.

So other than SVHATS and making sure things are going okay between a student and a volunteer, how else do we keep volunteers? By having fun of course! This is why we have our bar nights and other social gatherings. Oftentimes, they are centered around fundraisers, but we try and make them as fun as possible. This is why we've turned the process of volunteer recruitment into a social event: we want our future and current volunteers to have as much fun as possible!
The photos are from Martini Madness from last year where many volunteers and their friends had fun and raised money for Cabrini Connections. This year's Martini Madness will be on Friday October 17th fro 6:30-9:30 again at the Store, 2002 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614. More info to come soon!

But first, there's the Volunteer Recruitment Coffeehouse Night. It's this Thursday, August 21st from 5-8 pm at ING Direct Cafe, 21 E. Chestnut, Chicago, IL 60611. Afterparty to follow. Come one! Come all!

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