Each month, Volunteer Calgary chats with a manager of volunteers with one of our non-profit member organizations to share their personal success stories and best practices in the field of Volunteer Management.
Boys and Girls Club of Calgary
Maggie Schmiemann feels like the luckiest person in the world. She is working as the Volunteer Coordinator at Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary (BGCC)
“I get to hang out with some of the most amazing kids and youth in Calgary and help volunteers see that they are making a difference,” said Schmiemann.
Schmiemann started volunteering as a youth for various causes and assisting people in the neighbourhood. “My parents have always volunteered and showed me that helping one person in life makes a difference in the world even if it’s just taking your neighbour for groceries,” she said.
Her inherent passion for helping out makes her a natural fit for the role in an organization whose vision is to help young people discover, develop and achieve their full potential as adults, citizens and leaders, by engaging them in activities that challenge and enrich their minds, bodies and spirits and nurture their self-esteem.
“Our safe, caring club environments and enriching programs run by staff and volunteers have enabled thousands of young Calgarians to play, learn and develop valuable skills for life,” said Schmiemann.
“Volunteers are the backbone in many of our programs,” she said. “We are constantly looking for volunteers to help out in our 42 programs.”
BGCC’s Volunteer Program is structured in such a way that all volunteers have to go through an orientation to ensure that they maintain a safe environment for young children, which is a top priority.
During orientation, volunteers learn about history, programs, core values and boundaries. Afterward, they have a one on one interview and complete a police check, child intervention check and other standard paperwork.
“Once we receive their checks, our new volunteer will receive a tour where they will be working and additional training in the program. Every volunteer will receive a 90-day and annual evaluation so we can see if this is a good fit for them and they are enjoying themselves,” she said.
Volunteer positions range from administration, sports, mentorship, after school programs, special events, meal sponsorship, arts and crafts, teaching cooking and baking lessons. Their newest volunteer opportunity is with the FANS program (Food and Nutrition in schools), which works to enhance the wellness and learning potential of children and youth that experience hunger at school through the distribution of nutritious food and nutrition education.
BGCC engages various types of volunteers in different programs — from the baby boomers to Y generation. Schmiemann points out that each generation has different motivating factors and may require different types of recognition.
“Baby boomers generally love receiving art that is created by one of youth, where a Y generation is looking for a way to grow their experience to build a stronger resume or career path,” she said. “From our surveys, we have identified that providing them or sending them to training not only recognizes their hard work but their commitment to our community.”
She goes on further to say that each individual also has different recognition needs. “We generally try to design the recognition around the person, their interests and what they did for our organization,” she said. “One person, after volunteering and coaching floor hockey, was awarded hockey tickets. Another person, [who has volunteered] over twenty years, received custom-made pictures created by our Aboriginal services.”
Schmiemann shares her favorite quote to motivate volunteers, “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”
In other words: “Whenever someone says they feel like they are not making a big enough impact or change in someone’s life, I tell them no matter how small the project or volunteering role, if you can make one person smile or make their life easier just for that 5 minutes, you are being effective.”
Tips from Maggie:
On recruitment/screening. Listen to your inner voice, by watching people’s body language and asking the right questions you can tell where someone is a good fit and if they are a good fit for your agency.
On recognition/motivation. The best way to be successful is to get to know your volunteers, go for coffee, send them a card or phone call when something important is happening in their lives, such as having a grandchild born or getting married or make them a cake.
Check out the the volunteer opportunities posted on the Volunteer Calgary website to find out how you can get involved with BGCC.