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  • Writer's pictureEpiscopal Charities

Building Our Volunteer Communities: A Sustainability Institute Workshop

For the past two Saturdays, the Episcopal Charities Program Office put on Sustainability Institute workshops for our partner programs on the topic of volunteer management: how to recruit, train, and thank volunteers. We had a wonderful turn-out of over fifty program representatives from around the Diocese of New York. The workshop featured a panel of seasoned volunteer coordinators from diverse programs who shared their wisdom and answered questions from attendees.

Panelists included Olivia Nunez, Director of Community Engagement at the GO Project, Grace Church, Manhattan; The Rev. Edward M. Sunderland, Executive Director of Crossroads Community Services at St. Bartholomew’s, Manhattan; Terry Berardi, Co-Coordinator of the CommunityFood Pantry at St. Mary’s, Mohegan Lake; Phyllis Guardino, Director of the Guild of St. Margaret Soup Kitchen, Grace Church, Middletown; and Sean Pica, Executive Director of Hudson Link for Higher Education. Panelists discussed everything from discerning the best role for a new volunteer to educating volunteers about the people they are serving to dealing with difficult volunteers. In addition, the Rev. Mary Cat Young, New York University Chaplain and Diocesan Liason for Young Adults joined both workshops to speak about the challenges and benefits of incorporating young people into a volunteer program.

Beyond the information shared, Episcopal Charities’ workshops offer a chance to network with other program leaders. Many of our partner programs are spread out in rural areas, and program leaders are tremendously busy doing outreach work–so the opportunity to connect with peers face to face is rare and welcome. As one attendee stated, “It is always inspiring and restorative to be around people who care for others and to see [them] share their passion for serving those in need.” At these most recent workshops, for example, I saw many program leaders greeting old and new friends, catching up on the state of their organizations, and best of all, sharing constructive ideas for how to improve their programs. We recognized common concerns in the areas of web-based communication, volunteer screening processes, parish engagement and much more. In fact, many workshop attendees expressed an interest in gaining more opportunities to network with one another. In response, Episcopal Charities is building an online resource-sharing network. Resources from our most recent workshop are already available here.

Episcopal Charities’ Sustainability Institute Workshops are free of charge and open to anyone associated with the Diocese of New York or its outreach programs. You can find information about upcoming workshops through our calendar and on our Facebook page. (Go ahead and “like” us while you’re at it.)

Our next workshop is about fundraising and will be led by Episcopal Charities’ Director of Development, Henry Enright. The Manhattan session will be held on Saturday, October 19 from 10am-1pm at the Diocesan House (1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York). Sign up HERE. The Poughkeepsie session will be held on Saturday, November 2 from 10am-1pm at Christ Church (20 Carroll St, Poughkeepsie). Sign up HERE.


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