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!
AmeriCorps VISTA, Nicole Owens, is in the process of completing the Denton County Friends of the Family’s community education project. Nicole has welcomed two new Speakers Bureau members who completed their training in the month of March. They are now able to shadow tabling events and presentations to learn more about representing Denton County Friends of the Family (DCFOF). Developed by VISTA Members, the rigorous Speakers Bureau training covers a variety of topics to insure members have an adequate understanding of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and the dynamics that contribute to both. Once they’ve observed several presentations, members will assist with presentations, alleviating some of the heavy workload of the DCFOF community education team.
During the month of February, Adam Jones, a Volunteer Training VISTA at Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center, was recruited to amass a wealth of information on the topic of volunteer management. The information gathered was used in a lecture hosted by Funding Information Network. With the track record of over 183 volunteers trained and managed and 424 hours of service contributed to Woman to Woman over a span of 10 months, it would be safe to say that he has a few things to share about volunteer management. This lecture not only helps Woman to Woman to establish a presence in the community, but it also offers opportunities to network with other non-profits in the area. Adam also created two volunteer leadership positions to be used with the hopes that volunteers will play a more prominent role in the management of the sales floor and warehouse. These positions allow staff to resume the administrative aspect of the organization, which will allow staff to seek out other creative means to make a presence in the community.
This month, Denton County Friends of the Family Speakers Bureau grew when two new members joined the group. VISTA Nicole Owens provided the first part of their training in which they learned the basics of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. It also got easier for volunteers to get involved with the creation of a shared speaker’s bureau calendar. Volunteers will easily be able to see when they can help and participate in presentations. One volunteer started presenting individually when Nicole became unexpectedly ill shortly before a presentation. With no other staff members available on such short notice, the speaker’s bureau volunteer was able to step up and represent Denton County Friends of the Family. VISTA Nicole’s training perfectly prepared this volunteer for any circumstance!
Many new volunteers are quite nervous on their first day and wonder a lot about their new organization they are volunteering for. Topics like “what is the dress code?”, “where do I park?”, “what time is my shift?”, and “who do I contact if I cannot make it?” are examples of questions that bounce around in a new volunteer’s mind. VISTA Sarah Crain sought to find a solution that would help give information to these new volunteers in a concise and effective manner. From previous volunteer experience, Sarah was able to author a New Volunteer Information Packet that included answers to all of the above questions. She also added in a letter from the Director of Woman to Woman to engage volunteers and ensure they knew their time was extremely valuable. This welcome packet will be given to every new volunteer that starts with Woman to Woman by the Volunteer Coordinator. Come to a volunteer information meeting for Woman to Woman and you can see Sarah’s work!
In December, Volunteer Training VISTA, Adam Jones, hosted the Christmas Jeopardy Bingo at the Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center’s Volunteer Christmas party. This event is a way express staff’s gratitude to their volunteers. Adam also participated in the Clinic Christmas Party where he gained a greater understanding on why volunteers contribute their time to Twice As Nice Resale. This motivating event served to remind Adam why the work he completes does matter. All was not fun and games though. Adam also managed six volunteers who contributed 24 hours of service to Twice as Nice Resale.
This month, VISTA Hannah McNeil with Woman to Woman Pregnancy Resource Center worked on creating new signs for Twice As Nice resale (TANR). Cashiers have been experiencing difficulty amongst themselves and customers involving correct pricing. The resale store, in collaboration with VISTA Sarah Crain, has recently completed a new pricing guide to better serve volunteers processing items that are placed on the sales floor and to make sure that our pricing is consistent for customers. Hannah’s goal in creating new pricing signs is to ensure that prices included in the new guide match the prices being communicated to volunteers serving on sales floor and customers. The signs will also incorporate our new branding and will ultimately allow for a cleaner, more cohesive, overall affect in the whole store. To start this process Hannah reviewed all store signage, designed a new layout for each department, consulted the pricing guide and updated the signs accordingly, and began creating a template for the signs that includes the TANR logo and colors. The templates will serve to build capacity for store staff in the future by giving staff the ability to pull the template Hannah has created in the correct size, make simple changes, and print as needed.
Volunteer Enablement VISTA Sean Enfield with Plano Children’s Theatre is experiencing first-hand the expanse of his 25 year old organization which has grown to support 5 active performance spaces in 5 different North Texas cities. So far, his primary accomplishments have been to initiate himself into a group and a volunteer network that already has a very distinct culture. He has spent a great deal of time tracking down old playbills and paperwork so that he can develop the organization’s volunteer database. With this, he hopes to organize the theatre’s volunteer system, but there is still much to learn and track down in this regard. He has had personal and online communication with a number of volunteers already and suspects that, as his role is more and more engrained into the organization’s community, this will likely increase exponentially. This month, he has trained two parents on the agency’s ticketing system and has coordinated 4 set builds.