On Saturday, April 8th, we had our first Work Day of the year and one of the volunteer groups was a volunteer management class with MSU Denver. The group was jubilant about the day because they not only got to volunteer, but they were also there as an observer to see how Extreme Community Makeover manages its volunteers. In addition, they each had an assignment to write a paper on their volunteer experience with ECM.
“For me, it’s important to help volunteers connect to their project and take ownership for it, recognizing that we are able to assist with that project because they chose to volunteer their time. But more importantly, I want to help volunteers connect to the people behind the projects, so that they are part of connecting,” explains Angela Bomgaars, Executive Director of ECM. Angela has poured her heart in soul into making sure the vision of Extreme Community Makeover is passed down to the individual volunteer and that they get to experience a true connection.
As to be expected, there is a lot of work that goes in to an Extreme Community Work day. There are schedules to organize, people to place, logistics to settle, etc. On any given ECM Work Day, as a volunteer, you may not even notice the work that goes into it, though, because things run so smoothly – that’s at least our goal, here at ECM. It’s our objective that each and every volunteer gets to truly enjoy their experience because we’ve put in the hard work on the front-end to make sure the volunteer experience is unforgettable.
Pam Colbert, a student of the volunteer management class, expresses, “This is pretty unbelievable. I’ve been involved in the nonprofit area for a long time. ECM is so organized. Fundraising is my background and from a fundraising standpoint ECM is genius. Not only do you acquire all these new volunteers, but you’re also doing a raffle at lunch, raising money to continue the cause. You are very organized. You’ve given us all the tools we need. I can’t think of one thing you haven’t prepared us for.” Pam’s major is in Human Services and her concentration is in Nonprofit Administration.
“The class is only offered once a year ,” says professor Cherrelyn Napue. She has been teaching the class for three years and this is her second experience with ECM. “I love this as a project and the organization. This is a volunteer development and administration class. The students are learning how to be good volunteer managers and how to integrate volunteers into nonprofit organizations. Angela and ECM does an amazing job of managing large groups, being organized when you show up and having clear instruction. The social media engagement gives the students and all of the volunteers a way to connect afterwards to create their own continuous experience,” states Cherrelyn
There are three key points Cherrelyn hopes each student will walk away with after taking her class. First, she wants the students to understand the value of volunteers to an organization, to the community and the importance of planning ahead for volunteers. In addition, Cherrelyn teaches her students to understand the connection volunteers can make in furthering an organization’s mission; after all, volunteers are the hands, the feet, the arms to serving others of many nonprofit organizations.
Another student we got to talk to was Sarah Gleason. She was a project leader on this Saturday Work Day. “I have not done a volunteer project like this before, where it’s labor intensive. And, I’ve never worked with groups this large before. It’s a lot of seeing how ECM manages the larger groups and how we all come together to actually change something and get people outside of their house, talking to us, and feeling a bit more appreciative of their home,” explains Sarah. Reflecting on the paper assignment, Sarah thinks she’ll write about how the volunteer experience changed her, and give a more personal reflection on the day.
Garrett Coulter, the second MSU project leader for the day shares, “That’s one of the things I love about Extreme Community Makeover, how you are able to get so many people together and involved, who are not necessarily part of the organization itself.” Garrett’s degree is Stakeholder Engagement and he’ll be graduating this spring. “My experience today has been kickin’! It’s been awesome,” he says with a grin.
“I think ECM’s success in attracting volunteers is that we’re flexible – you can volunteer as an individual, with a small group, with a medium size group, or a large group. If you want to volunteer, we have a place for you,” states Angela Bomgaars.
Extreme Community Makeover hopes we got an A grade with the students in the volunteer management class. We are honored they chose our organization to observe. To all our volunteers, we are truly grateful for you. We could not do it without you!
Extreme Teams is a consistent volunteer program we offer to those individuals who want to get more involved in Extreme Community Makeover. Learn more