Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Treat Volunteers So They Feel Valued

If there's one thing the volunteer coordinators at La Purisima Mission in Lompoc know how to do, it's showing their appreciation for volunteers. From Day One, our fearless leaders have demonstrated their appreciation for the time we all spend there (and studying away from there) with various gestures. None of them are grand gestures, but all of them are appreciated.

In addition to an annual docent barbecue (to which docents also contribute potluck style) and chili cookoff, docents are fed morning snacks (donuts/coffee/hot tea) on the mornings of day-long efforts and lunch during breaks spelled by volunteer coordinators, parks employees and other volunteers. We're greeted warmly, thanked regularly, and welcome to follow our personal interests when it comes to delving into parks projects. Love the bells? We need a bell ringer! Like to weave? Here's the weaving room and the keys to the wool. Animals? Gardening? Carpentry? Media work? Leading tours? There's no end to the work that can be done here, and they're satisfied if volunteers are happily working.

Even junior docents got some special rubs this year with the first ever campout in the Village. E opted to stay home with our visitors, but V was still excited about this campout which had been on our books since December, well before our visitors had made their plans. So together, V and I headed to Lompoc where, once again, we were warmly greeted and, this time, treated with crafts, s'mores, hot dog roasting around the fire, story telling around the fire, moth catching around the lantern, and finally a late night of giggling and talking in the tule hut.

Thank you, La Purisima, for making us feel so very valuable to you and appreciated. Yes, we will continue driving 160 miles round trip to volunteer with you. Thank you!

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