When I looked at my calendar this morning, I couldn’t believe that it is December! Come to think of it, I had the same revelation this time last year when I was a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator (VMC). As Peer Leaders, our (Barb and myself) service years directly parallel those of the VMCs. The reason our service year moves at such a rapid pace is because each month is a milestone for the volunteer programs being developed at each of the service sites. Peer Leaders are not responsible for each volunteer program, but we are responsible, and enjoy, supporting the VMCs as they tirelessly work to leave their service sites with functioning and sustainable programs of direct service.
One of the ways Peer Leaders lend their support and mentoring skills is through site visits. In the last thirty days, I have helped conduct eleven site visits! Program Manager, Laura, and I have been hitting the road to visit Hakuna Matata (my region of VMCs) and their site supervisors to get a better perspective on what they have experienced so far. Site visits take place in person, at the nonprofits Volunteer Maryland has partnered with this year, and all parties involved are able to raise questions and share successes, challenges, goals, and opinions with clarity; which is not always the case when stated in an email or a phone conversation. We can determine what the VMC has been working on and how that fits into the partnership agreement. This is important because at times, a VMC will start taking on other duties and projects, with good intentions, but at the end of the service year, the original assignment and purpose has been lost. Don’t get me wrong, a site visit is not meant to be a rigorous test, but as a tool to insure that the VMC and site supervisor are focused on the negotiated tasks at hand.
Occasionally, a VMC will have to refocus so that s/he is on track to completing a successful year. Much like a photographer has to refocus a lens to get a clear picture. If the photographer takes a picture while it is out of focus, a picture will develop, but it will not capture the desired image without being blurry. The same is true for a VMC who completes the service year without staying within the guidelines of the position description and work plan; the year is complete, but the service site (and ultimately the VMC) is not left with the anticipated results. Taking a step back and re-examining a role and purpose is a good thing and should be done as often as is needed. 🙂