Five Things I Learned As a Volunteer Coordinator
11-23-16, Posted by Jennifer Paulsen, Director of Development & Communications
Before I moved back to Texas, I worked as the volunteer coordinator at the largest homeless shelter in Salt Lake City. I loved my job but the holiday season, which seemed to start around Halloween and continue through to Christmas Eve, became a lot like hosting a 2-month long party. A good host stays cheerful (thank goodness for freak-out rooms) and makes sure the right number of people attend so that everyone has a good experience. This is especially challenging during the holidays when everyone and their dog wants to volunteer and you have a family standing in front of you with 12 members that have all come in from different states for their annual volunteer project but nobody called to schedule.
To help volunteers and volunteer coordinators, I have come up with five things I learned about volunteering from the perspective of a volunteer coordinator:
1. Call early. If you want to volunteer during the holidays, call the volunteer coordinator early in the year and ask when they’ll start scheduling volunteers. You’ll want to do this especially if you have a large group.
2. Be flexible. Be willing to help where they need you - even if it’s in the storeroom organizing donations. This may also mean after the holidays if they are already booked.
3. Be cheerful! Attitude will take you a long way. Volunteer coordinators need a good core group of volunteers they can rely on and make the job fun.
4. Follow through. Once you sign up, fulfill your commitment. Volunteer coordinators are counting on you. Unexpectedly, things come up so if you need to cancel, try to do it as early as possible.
5. Pitch in. If you are volunteering during a busy time, chances are the volunteer coordinator is running around attending to multiple things. Once you are done with your task or if there is a lull between rushes, look around and assess what you can do. Standing around waiting for orders is not helpful. Pitching in where needed is.
Thank you for volunteering and Happy Holidays!
Meet our newest VISTA member
The Texas Homeless Network would like to introduce you to our newest THN VISTA Coordinated Entry Specialist in Corpus Christi, Texas.
My name is Alexis Oliver Williams. I am originally from Muskogee, OK, and also grew up in Savanna, GA. I graduated from Brenau University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science, and a minor in Business Administration. I graduated from the University of North Florida in 2002 with a master’s in Public Administration.
My husband and I will be married for 16 years in December. We have two children – Billy, who will be 7 in November and Alesia, who will be 13 in December. We have moved 11 times in 16 years because of my husband’s active duty service with the U.S. Navy. We are a retired military family now, and have made Corpus Christi, TX our home.
I have a thorough background in government, non-profit management, and social services. I previously served as an AmeriCorps member in 2001/2002 with Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation (NJCDC). There, I worked with the organization’s board and staff, and various municipal and non-profit agencies to rehabilitate the inner core neighborhoods of Jacksonville, FL. I am also an advocate for children with special needs and their caregivers. My experience with pediatric special needs includes Autism Spectrum Disorders; speech, language and developmental delay; mental health; and traumatic brain injury.
Alexis will be working with the Homeless Issues Partnership in Corpus Christi, Texas. The purpose of this project is to assist in the implementation of a Coordinated Entry (CE) system for local homeless service providers. Alexis will focus on building partnerships and strengthening evidence-based practices in the community to provide more effective and efficient services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
New HMIS Tutorial
THN Welcomes Kameron Fowler to the Team!
Texas Homeless Network (THN) is pleased to announce that Kameron Fowler, LMSW, has accepted the position of Continuum of Care Director.
Kameron has over 13 years of experience in housing and homelessness programs in Austin, Los Angeles and Australia. Most recently an independent consultant and trainer for local and statewide non-profits including THN, Kameron has held varied administrative and direct care roles within the homeless services sector in the specialties of medical respite, shelter case management, housing stability case management, mental health case management, HIV services, DV, and street outreach. She has successfully implemented and secured funding for multiple HUD Housing First Permanent Supportive Housing Programs, Rapid Re-Housing Programs and an AmeriCorps program focused on housing. Kameron served as the Director of Strategic Initiatives of the Austin CoC where she laid the groundwork and began coordinated assessment implementation for Austin/Travis County. Prior to that, she served as the Program Director at Front Steps, the non-profit that runs the ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless), Austin’s largest shelter.
Kameron earned her MSSW from the University of Texas at Austin’s Advanced Standing Program and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Texas Tech University. She is a passionate advocate for positive social change with a focus on program implementation, policy work, and fostering partnerships to serve the most vulnerable populations. Kameron looks forward to building on THN’s 25+ year history, challenging us all to work together to step out of our comfort zones and thoroughly examine our strategies and programs, and to consider taking some risks in order to end homelessness in the BoS.
Prior to recently moving into his new position as President & CEO of THN, Eric Samuels spent the past 10 years managing and directing the Balance of State CoC. “I’m happy to be passing the baton to someone who shares my dedication and experience of serving those experiencing homelessness. Kameron’s direct experience, combined with her knowledge of CoC planning, will serve the Balance of State and all of Texas well,” said Eric.
Texas Homeless Network (THN), based in Austin, is a 501(c)3 organization that is the lead for the 216 counties located in the Balance of State Continuum of Care (CoC). THN provides training and technical assistance around the state on best practices to end homelessness. For additional information, visit: www.thn.org or call us at 512-482-8270.