There are two components when it comes to volunteers: the folks that volunteer and the folks that manage the volunteers. Both are equally important.
Volunteers do play a vital role in many areas of the Parks and Recreation profession by providing essential work and know-how, which has become a considerable monetary advantage. Most recreational professionals that have planned projects or events understand that they could not have been successful without the work, knowledge, and time donated by volunteers. Fischer and Schaffer (1993) define volunteering as, “the act of freely helping others without regard to financial and/or materialistic gain.”
There are many things to consider when working with volunteers in your organization: needs assessment, goals and objectives, risk management, training, orientation, placement, supervision, retainment, motivation, and recognition. Just to name a few….
As some of you are aware, there are certainly times when you are not sure if managing the volunteers is all that it’s cracked up to be. However, if you create reasonable expectations for an organization and the volunteers, there will be value to be had for you and the volunteer.
The benefits of volunteering as a family are enormous. Volunteering teaches even toddlers and preschoolers about compassion, empathy, tolerance, gratitude, and community responsibility. And children who volunteer are more likely to continue doing so as adults. I have been volunteering at Moraine State Park for over 24 years, yikes……yes it has been that long. My children have been at my side since they can remember. Volunteering is part of who they are, and hopefully, the memories and experiences they have gained will encourage them to continue the service as adults.