Village volunteers step up to the challenge
From the moment FBWE Village launched, our volunteer brigade sailed into action. In just the first two months, the Village clocked 66 hours of volunteer service.
The Volunteer Committee was confident that our cadre of well-trained and vetted volunteers would provide excellent service to our members. But village volunteering immediately delivered something we hadn’t quite anticipated.
Right from the start, members and volunteers began to connect in some unexpected and meaningful ways.
When member Liesbeth Boxman returned home after knee replacement surgery, volunteers pitched in with rides to physical therapy appointments and grocery delivery. In the process, Liesbeth has become acquainted with several neighbors, (some in her own building), that she had never met.
“Liesbeth lives in the same block as I do so it was easy for me to run an errand for her,”said John Alexander Williams. “Liesbeth is Dutch, and my significant other is also Dutch, so we discovered we were interested in a lot of the same things.”
It just so happened that Liesbeth had baked a Dutch pastry, and so she sent some for John Alexander to enjoy at home. “All aspects of the volunteer services are working out so well for me,”Liesbeth said, “and it’s so much fun getting to know all of these neighbors.”
Trips to medical appointments have been the most frequently requested service so far, but volunteers have also delivered groceries and prescriptions, offered one-to-one computer lessons, and telephoned to cheer hospital patients. We have been to various members’ homes to hang curtains, move a television, return a defective microwave, and even assemble a baby seat for a member whose great-grandchild was about to visit.
Before setting out on their assignments, all volunteers attended a thorough training session that prepped them on protocol for unforeseen emergencies, member confidentiality, and the mechanics of how members could access Village volunteer services. Standard members can now make a request for volunteer services online.
Every single member request has been fulfilled to date. Our only problem? The Village has more eager volunteers at the moment than we have member requests!
It’s no surprise that Village volunteers have embraced their duties so enthusiastically or that the program is running seamlessly. Volunteers are absolutely essential to every Village’s success. For over a year the Volunteer Committee spent hours scrutinizing every facet of the program, from the application process, to our volunteer handbook and our training curriculum, so that every detail would be covered well in advance of launch.
Running the volunteer program is our full-time Director of Volunteers and Village Services, Bob McDonald, who had previously coordinated the volunteer program for the Dupont Circle Village.
“Having an experienced Director of Volunteers has allowed us to hit the ground running,”said Village President Susan B. Haight. “Filling all member requests from a database of vetted, trained volunteers has made all the difference.”
Everyone involved with the Village is grateful to our volunteers. Their willingness to serve is forming community here in Foggy Bottom and West End in the truest sense of the word.
If you’d like to become a Village volunteer, training sessions will be held early in 2014. For details, please contact us.