Many Hands Make Light Work for Teen Feed
Teen Feed, located in Seattle's University District, links homeless youth with services and serves a hot meal every night. In 2009, Teen Feed served 11,313 meals to more than 470 youths and young adults. Like all food banks and feeding programs, Teen Feed would not exist without its volunteers. Managing volunteers while also meeting the needs of the teens can be difficult.
It is challenging to identify potential volunteers with the right skills and approach to working with homeless youth. "Our goal is to find more competent, knowledgeable, and consistent volunteers," said Jaime Jamison, volunteer manager at Teen Feed. This is especially true when it comes to Teen Feed's volunteer advocates. These advocates must be willing to complete a training program called The Ropes, which teaches them how to listen to and interact with homeless youth.
How VIP 360 Helped
Teen Feed, along with 18 other food banks and feeding programs, participated in the 2010 Volunteer Impact Program (VIP) cohort, now called VIP 360. VIP 360 is a project of 501 Commons and United Way of King County. It is an intensive 4-month program that focuses on improving volunteer management systems. Teen Feed worked with three 501 Commons consultants to develop a plan for recruiting - and keeping - the right volunteers. After completing a thorough assessment of Teen Feed's volunteer program and surveying current and former volunteers, the team of consultants and Teen Feed staff identified key strategies for improving the program.
Teen Feed believes that participating in VIP 360 has made a positive difference in its ability to accomplish its mission. Said Jamison, "our mission is to offer basic services, build strong relationships with our clients and community, and ally with our clients to meet their future off the streets. VIP has helped us build stronger relationships with our surrounding community. Before VIP we had no volunteer job descriptions available to volunteers. Now we do, and our number of volunteers has increased because of the clarity we offer them."
About VIP 360
VIP 360 improves nonprofit volunteer management systems so that the time and skills contributed by volunteers have a greater impact in our communities. Working with 501 Commons consultants and Volunteer Center experts, participating nonprofits improve their organizations' ability to engage volunteers in projects and activities that help programs run smoothly, use resources well, and build community support. By incorporating strong volunteer management practices, nonprofits can make better use of the professional skills of volunteers, engage a more diverse group of volunteers, and increase the number of volunteers who support the work of staff.