This past May I attended and presented at the Wisconsin Volunteer Coordinators Association (WVCA) conference. There were 200 other volunteer managers like myself who have been in the profession from 40 years to the newbie of 14 days.
There is nothing like being in a room full of people who share your same drive, passion and career goals as you. The conference kicked off with key-note speaker Tom Krause. Tom was a retired teacher/coach of thirty-one years in the Missouri Public School system, and he was a 20 time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series.
He shared with us heartwarming stories during his coaching and teaching days, that came back to the same inspirational message:
PEOPLE COUNT – PEOPLE MATTER
YOU COUNT – YOU MATTER
YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
This statement really resonated with me. The more I am in this profession (13 years now and counting) I am learning it is not just about finding people to fill the needed roles of your volunteer organization, but it is more about connecting people with the right opportunities for them to serve in our community. Everyone has talents to share.
As a volunteer manager, there is nothing more rewarding than helping someone recognize and help facilitate that perfect volunteer match. Granted overtime, that perfect role might change, but then we have the challenge of connecting people with new opportunities and making that match again and seeing them thrive and find success.
I was up next to present to a crowd of 52 people. My presentation was on “Networking On and Off Line”. (watch for a later blog post on that topic.)
After I got done presenting, one of the greatest things happened. I was packing up my supplies, and I had a few people in line to ask me questions, so I stopped packing up, and this gentleman was before me and I asked him if he had a question. He said “No, I just want to give you a hug.” So, of course I hugged him.
I felt so honored, that he wanted a hug from me. It also made me laugh, because, Hector, the photographer I worked with on my national deployment to Colorado last September, called me “the hug whisper.” If a hug from me makes people feel better, I am all for it, it also makes me feel pretty darn good too!
There was another really great moment that also came from this conference. This was another “ah ha” moment when I knew that I was in the right career for me.
I was in the hall between sessions, and a women came up to me and she began to tell me how my presentation last year (3 R’s in Volunteer Management – Retention, Recruitment and Recognition) helped her in revamping her program, and the success she was having. I seriously teared up, I was so touched that she took the time to share this with me, and now I was the teacher. I am so grateful for my many mentors and now for me to be the person mentoring someone. It is a really cool career high moment!
After saying my good byes to my fellow volunteer manager peeps and I drove the hour and half home, I had a sense of peace wash over me in knowing, that I am in the profession, that I am meant to be. I hope everyone can experience this feeling, and maybe if you can’t find this sort of peace in your career, maybe you can find it in service. I encourage everyone to keep searching for it!
Save the date for the 2015 Wisconsin Volunteer Coordinators Association Conference May 7th & 8th, 2015 at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton.