As VISTA Jennifer Annen nears the end of her service with Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center, she is working to make sure that all of her hard work is sustainable and guarantees success in the future. In the month of March, Jennifer focused on one of the most important ways to interact with the community and recruit new volunteers- service groups. After Jennifer facilitated a group of 20 volunteers from a local church who came in to paint the entire Twice as Nice Resale store, she realized how important it is to maintain a strong process in preparing for and hosting groups. In just March alone, groups collectively served over 100 hours, which left Twice as Nice looking refreshed and also inspired the staff to rearrange the store’s departments. Not only does having a more attractive store lead to greater customer retention and sales, but it also helps staff to see the value in our community partners and encourages them to make one-time volunteers into individuals who would likely serve again, maybe even weekly. Jennifer feels confident that after her term ends, the Twice as Nice staff will feel confident in facilitating groups using her planning guide, which includes a step-by-step process and easy to follow flowchart. Overall, VISTA Jennifer is thrilled to see the impact of her training guides, but she also is excited to see how they can help grow the entire Woman to Woman volunteer base!
Interested in women’s health & have fundraising skills? The Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center Fundraising Events VISTA will increase funding to provide education & free medical care to women.
Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center is located in Denton, TX. Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) empowers individuals to make wise life choices financially, sexually, and relationally through 3 programs that work together to provide assistance to women in unintended pregnancies and bring families out of poverty. Ninety percent (90%) of the clients receiving services through the programs at Woman to Woman PRC fall below the poverty line with an average annual income of $17,000. The clinic at Woman to Woman PRC provides free medical services, including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, prenatal care and medical follow-ups, as well as counseling to clients. Woman to Woman’s Living Choices of North Texas program is a school-based program with the mission of educating youth, equipping parents and engaging the community with accurate facts concerning sexual health and well-being. The Twice as Nice Resale Store of Denton supports the mission of Woman to Woman PRC. Women seeking services from Woman to Woman have the opportunity to receive new and gently used merchandise from the thrift store for themselves and their children free of charge through the Earn and Learn Program. The Fundraising Events VISTA at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center will build capacity and increase awareness of agency events and programs through development of community outreach strategies and will create a system of metric analysis for determining event sustainability. To learn more about Woman to Woman PRC visit www.dentonprc.org.
“Focusing on our foundation and building on it” is the theme that VISTA Jennifer Annen is using to create a new training for the volunteers at Woman to Woman’s Twice as Nice Resale in Denton, Texas. January was the second phase in the construction of the quarterly training, known as “BUILD,” for the resale store’s staff and 120+ active volunteers. After conducting over 20 hours of interviews with current volunteers, Jennifer and her volunteer management team took the feedback into consideration when planning how to most efficiently use the volunteers’ valuable time during trainings. Jennifer and her team began by replacing one of their old methods of training every first Thursday of the month and implemented BUILD, which would gather more volunteers at a time most convenient to them and jam-packed with the most pertinent information. By working closely with various presenters to compose their portion of the training, Jennifer made sure that the activities and lessons would be worthwhile, interactive, and even fun! To string together all sections of the training, Jennifer designed a PowerPoint presentation that remained on the screen to help the audience follow and to highlight the largest takeaways. She and the volunteer management team created a booklet for all of the audience members to fill in the blanks, take notes, and walk away with important upcoming dates and events. Ultimately, forty-five volunteers and staff participated in the training event and two of the founding board members even made an appearance. One of the highlights of the evening involved a long-term volunteer of thirteen years who spoke about why she has stayed with Woman to Woman for so long and how much of an impact you can within your volunteer service. Jennifer’s team received excellent feedback from all attendees and she cannot wait to see all of the hard work of the BUILD event transpire into more cohesiveness and ownership within the ministry. The value of these amazing volunteers’ service has helped to provide over 1,700 hours at the resale store in just the last month of 2017 alone. These hours enable Twice as Nice to serve Woman to Woman in providing many free services to the community. Jennifer hopes that these quarterly trainings will encourage volunteers to continue spreading the word to friends and the community how just serving a few hours a week can provide so much for the Denton County area!
Jennifer Annen, Volunteer Training VISTA serving at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource (W2W) in Denton, Texas, has launched the first stage of revamping the training program for the volunteers at W2W’s Twice as Nice Resale. Knowing that the monthly trainings were well-intentioned and full of useful information, but could not reach an optimal amount of volunteers, Jennifer set out to devise a plan to magnify their impact. Jennifer sat down with Twice as Nice’s weekly, permanent volunteers to gain feedback on their satisfaction with their current duties and if they feel appreciated for their hard work within the ministry. They discussed at length what method of training they thought could be most useful and what times match best with their schedules. After over 20 hours of conversation, Jennifer took this crucial information and teamed up with staff to begin planning a quarterly training which could reach more people and pack a more powerful punch with relaying vital information to their volunteers. Jennifer hopes that the trainings’ cohesiveness will encourage Twice as Nice’s volunteers to feel empowered, appreciated, and the desire to take greater ownership. The value of their contributions amounted to 1,724 hours served in just the last month but provided 80 class presentations through W2W’s Living Choices education program and allowed the Pregnancy Resource Center to hold 76 client visits. Without the volunteers’ efforts, it would be impossible to reach so many individuals within the Denton county community!
Name: Jennifer Annen
Hometown: Crystal Lake, IL
Alma Mater: Iowa State University
Volunteer history: Pet-sitting, dog-walking, animal care and community outreach at an animal shelter
Why did you choose VISTA? I had earned my bachelor’s degree in Animal Science, but towards the end of my schooling I found a deep interest in human and societal issues. I had a gut-feeling that becoming a VISTA would allow me to sharpen skills in new areas while also contributing towards the elimination of poverty in Denton County. Almost seven months into my program, I couldn’t have imagined ever not making the jump!
Tell us a little bit about what your organization does and your role in it:I am currently serving as the Volunteer Training VISTA through the Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center in Denton, TX. Woman to Woman provides a multitude of free services to women and men in the community, including pregnancy testing and sonograms, STI testing, counseling, and other vital resources to new mothers. Woman to Woman also operates Twice as Nice Resale store and the Living Choices program, where they educate middle and high schoolers on sexual health and healthy relationships. I am lucky to serve in volunteer training with the amazing folks at Twice as Nice Resale! My role is to strengthen their volunteer program by increasing retention and setting in place policies and procedures so that current volunteers feel confident in their hard work.
What is your biggest accomplishment as a VISTA so far? I feel like my biggest accomplishment is a combination of small accomplishments that all amount to being able to equip our staff and volunteers with training guides for multiple volunteer departments. Upon arrival at Twice as Nice Resale, I learned how many different ways their volunteers are contributing but noticed a lack in updated, clear project and task instructions. Going from department to department and working with fellow staff and volunteers, I have been able to craft four completed books so far. After debuting each guide, we hosted a training of at least 20+ volunteers to demonstrate the policies and procedures, as well as answer any questions. I love knowing that after I leave, staff will be able to train new volunteers confidently and easily. Our current volunteers will also be able to lead other volunteers and train them as well!
The New Volunteer Training VISTA will increase the agency’s capacity by improving current volunteer trainings and procedures thus increasing retention of volunteers. The New Volunteer Training VISTA will develop a curriculum to thoroughly orient and train new volunteers and will refine volunteer education and training in order to move volunteers from program participation to ownership. The VISTA member will expand and enhance the volunteer program through the evaluation and revising of existing policies and procedures. The VISTA will create a new volunteer training program that is consistent with new policies and procedures as well as follow-up trainings and evaluations to allow volunteers to provide feedback and retrain in areas where they need help. The VISTA member will develop a volunteer management system to track volunteer activities and hours of service. The system created will need to have measures in place that will maintain confidentiality and security of volunteer records.
Woman to Woman (W2W) Pregnancy Resource Center’s VISTA, Jennifer Annen, took volunteer training to the next level this September! As W2W welcomed in a new volunteer coordinator, Jennifer worked closely with her to demonstrate their procedures for recruiting, contacting, and orienting new volunteers. Joining forces with her fellow VISTA and new volunteer coordinator, Jennifer helped to identify weak spots in the current recruitment and training processes as well as brainstormed improvements. This collaboration provided staff with a checklist of items to be completed by the volunteer coordinator and store staff when engaging new volunteers. Having these vital steps clearly defined will help W2W recruit volunteers more efficiently and reduce the unfortunate opportunity for procedures and people to slip through the cracks. Jennifer will now analyze the next half of the process: how the agency orients and trains their volunteers in their respective departments. Ensuring new volunteers start off on a good footing encourages smooth sailing during the training process. W2W is largely volunteer-driven and would not be able to provide free services to the community without them. For example, in the month of July, Twice as Nice Resale’s volunteers served 1,755 hours. Their hard work processing tons of donations, cleaning and organizing store shelves, running the cash registers, and many other important duties contributed to the agency being able to provide 40 sonograms to pregnant women at no cost to them. For disadvantaged women and families facing an unintended pregnancy, one sonogram could cost an average of $270, according to New Choice Health. This means women in the area saved about $10,800 in July for sonograms alone!
Jennifer, a VISTA serving at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center in Denton, TX has found the importance in maximizing potential for volunteers from every walk of life. Working closely with the volunteer coordinator at Twice as Nice Resale, (a branch of Woman to Woman PRC) Jennifer determined areas where she could improve the process for new volunteer intake and training. She decided to begin where it all starts: the initial contact the volunteer makes with someone at Twice as Nice Resale. Responding to all volunteer inquiries, including those from individuals who are looking to complete their community service hours, is imperative in ensuring that you are utilizing all of the help that is offered. In the month of August, Twice as Nice Resale received dozens of community service inquiries and Jennifer played a large part in the correspondence, keeping the individual’s information and status updated, and preparing them for their first day of service or volunteering. In order to be able to provide free medical services, education, and needed goods like diapers and formula to the Denton County area, Woman to Woman PRC relies heavily on their volunteers to help in all areas of the organization. Jennifer has also supported the organization’s efforts in a more efficient volunteer introduction process by facilitating new volunteers and community service members in their application, interview, and orientation. Maintaining accurate records daily using a spreadsheet to keep track of each person’s status as they move through the acclimation period has been an essential method in immersing them quicker, more efficiently, and more thoroughly. Jennifer plans to continue refining this process as she moves into evaluating how she can improve the overall training procedures so that Woman to Woman PRC can engage more community members as well as help even more people who are uninsured, economically disadvantaged, or facing a hard time in their lives.
Brianna Young is serving with Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center as the Volunteer Recruitment and Development VISTA. Twice as Nice Resale (TANR) hosted a group of 15 volunteers on August 25, 2017 from the Texas Academy of Math and Science at University of North Texas. The volunteers served 2 hours each to help organize, label, and clean the store. The staff and volunteers of TANR are very appreciative of the work they put in. While this event took place a TANR volunteer, who will soon become a leader of this setting, was shadowing the event so she will take over and continue organizing these events in the future providing students experience and helping the store altogether. Tending to the store aesthetics will help produce more revenue which funds Women to Women Pregnancy Resource Center’s clinic providing women with free testing, information, and resources to help reduce the stress of finances for upcoming families.
July was certainly a month of growth for Twice as Nice Resale, an entity of Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center (W2W) in Denton, Texas and VISTA Jennifer helped to lay the groundwork for expanding their volunteer program! Alongside her project’s fellow VISTA, Hannah McNeill, Jennifer worked to open up a new opportunity for Twice as Nice Resale’s volunteers to take more ownership and lead volunteer groups. Over the last couple of years, W2W has received an increased amount of interest from many organizations and church groups looking to serve at their resale store. With the number of volunteer groups growing, the need for assistance in coordinating, planning, and running the groups has also grown. Keeping in mind that the VISTA project will not be at W2W forever, Jennifer co-constructed a group lead “to do” checklist to help train five volunteers Hannah recruited for the leadership roles. To ensure that the volunteers received a comprehensive learning experience, Jennifer created mock “groups” and provided the necessary information for the volunteers to then work with each other to plan and coordinate for the group, just as they would eventually have to do when they are planning on their own. The next step in their training process includes them shadowing at least 3 volunteer groups where they watch and help the VISTAs run them and then ultimately leading their own groups. Jennifer hopes that this training will not only help the current volunteer leaders to train new leaders after the VISTA project, but also that the organization’s capacity to host more volunteer groups will surge. Jennifer predicts that being able to better spread the word about the organization will only benefit them in donations and sales, thus allowing W2W to provide their services to the community for free!