VM Blog

  • Leading Others to Thrive

    January 7, 2019

    Posted by: Dawn Bourbonnais

    Back in the fall of 2017, Thrive Thrift Shop approached Volunteer Manitoba to discuss their volunteer program and how they could build up the skills and capacity of their volunteer team. Thrive Community Support Circle is a community organization that provides a wide variety of support services to Winnipeg's core and West End, plus the surrounding communities. Their Thrift Shop offers individuals and groups the opportunity to volunteer their time and gain training and job skills while providing the community affordable clothing and household items.

    Thrive wanted to create a volunteer leadership training program to help them address some of the issues they were facing within their volunteer program and to provide an opportunity for key volunteers to learn leadership behaviours, including being able to step into a leadership role and model key skills. These volunteers would not only strengthen Thrive's volunteer program but also gain skills, education and experience that would be transferable into the workforce and their personal lives.

    Volunteer Manitoba began by conducted a general audit of the Thrive Thrift Shop Volunteer Program, to determine if there were any immediate gaps in their volunteer management strategy and to make any necessary recommendations. What the audit revealed is that Thrive Thrift Shop is a welcoming environment and reflects a diversity of volunteer skill level and engagement. Also, Thrive Community Support Circle's core values are reflected in all areas of the volunteer program, and the strength of the program is maintained through careful recruitment, screening, training and supervision of their volunteers.

    After completing the audit, Volunteer Manitoba introduced Genella MacIntyre, a consultant and trainer, to Thrive and began facilitating a custom training opportunity for Thrive volunteers. In-house, we began referring to the training as Leading Others to Thrive (or LOTT). LOTT quickly became Developing Volunteer Leadership Skills, an interactive program where participants increase their skills and learn how to take those skills and help coach others. Many of the volunteers at Thrive are struggling with challenges that affect their social interactions, community involvement, and negatively impact their self-esteem or image. By stepping into leadership roles at Thrive, these volunteers are better positioned to help support other volunteers in the organization. The hope was that by creating this training experience, volunteer mentors would be better positioned to support their fellow volunteer team members.

    In the pilot session, two Thrive volunteers participated in 4 days of training with Genella. They learned how to identify and communicate common workplace standards, redirecting behaviours and how to address personal habits in others, being a good coach, insights into their own personality styles and how to be a role model. At the end of the training, one participant shared with Volunteer Manitoba that this training has changed her life and the staff at Thrive Thrift Shop also shared that having Volunteer Manitoba partner on this initiative was a big help in showing their own leadership that they run a solid volunteer program that engages the community they serve.

    Thrive Community Support Circle now has a customized training program for volunteers which they have offered to share with the extended community in order to build capacity in volunteer programs in Winnipeg. For more information on this program, contact Kristy at thrivethriftshop@thrivewpg.com or 204-783-9281.


    If your organization would like to learn more about how Volunteer Manitoba can help you build your capacity to serve your community, please contact our Executive Director, Jackie Hunt

  • This time of year, Volunteer Manitoba receives a lot of phone calls and emails from people who are looking to volunteer their time over the holidays. Holiday volunteer roles can be a challenge to find - most are filled in the months leading up to December and regular volunteers are often relied on for the special events and activities that take place this time of year. However, there are still many ways you can give back over the season and have a meaningful volunteer experience. Check out our list of ways you can get involved and give back over the holidays!


    How to Get Involved and Give Back over the Holidays

    1. Ask a neighbour if you can help them this season by performing chores or errands.
    2. Bake holiday cookies and bring them to your local nursing home for sharing. You can also donate your time to Actionmarguerite St. Boniface and St. Vital, and help get their elderly residents to appointments and activities (the St. Vital location is looking for French-speaking volunteers).
    3. Donate your time to Operation Red Nose and help keep the streets safe for everyone over the holiday season!
    4. Give the gift of life by donating blood and/or sign up to be an organ donor.
    5. Make a care kit for people in need, with items like socks, deodorant, mittens, feminine hygiene products and snacks-give them out directly or donate them to any of the following: 1Just City, Siloam Mission, Ndinawe/Tina's Safe Haven, Main Street Project, Rossbrook House and in Brandon, MB, Samaritan House Ministries.
    6. Donate gently used DVDs, games, and crafts to the Youth Resource Centre at MacDonald Youth Services.
    7. Invite an elderly neighbour, or a newcomer and their family, to your holiday dinner, movie night or for a celebration.
    8. Meals on Wheels is looking for drivers to deliver delicious and nutritious meals to clients in the community. If you have a few hours a week to spare, visit www.mealswinnipeg.com
    9. Organize a coat and winter clothing drive in your community and then donate the items to any of the following organizations: Salvation Army, John Howard Society, Elizabeth Fry Society, United Way Koats for Kids, and in Brandon, MB, Samaritan House Ministries and the Women's Resource Centre.
    10. Compliment a stranger and wish them a happy holidays either in person or by leaving a note for someone to find.
    11. Drop off thank you cards for staff and volunteers at non-profits, charities and community centres in your neighbourhood.
    12. Bring some blankets, pet food or toys to an animal shelter. You can also donate your time to D'Arcy's A.R.C. (Animal Rescue Centre). They are looking for weekday morning volunteers to help them care for the cats. (web link)
    13. Pay it forward - buy someone else a coffee or warm drink anonymously.
    14. Host a fundraising event-like an ornament making party or office holiday sweater day-for the cause of your choice.
    15. Share your holiday volunteering or acts of kindness on social media and encourage others to give back too! (Tag Volunteer Manitoba in your posts so we can share them!)
  • Wow! We can't believe how fast the fall season flew by this year! We had such a great turnout for all of our training sessions, thank you to everyone who participated in our workshops. We received some wonderful feedback and we are thrilled you all enjoyed learning with us over the last few months.

    This fall we traveled to communities outside of Winnipeg to share our knowledge and expertise on board governance, volunteer recruitment and to help organizations build their capacity to deliver programs and services to their community. Thank you to everyone who shared our enthusiasm for putting Manitoba back in our name! We look forward to visiting even more communities in the new year (watch for us in Dauphin and Brandon, just to name a few).

    Thanks to the feedback we received from participants, we have created a winter training calendar that has a little bit of PD for everyone!

    Are you currently sitting on a board and looking for some guidance on how to manage your meetings, or understanding your organization's finances, or perhaps you are dealing with a bit of conflict between your members? Take a look at our Board Governance workshops for more info on how we can help.

    Want to learn more about managing volunteers within your organization? Check out our very popular Intro to Volunteer Management workshop! Did you know Volunteer Manitoba has been delivering this workshop since the 1980s? It's fun to look back at how much volunteer management has changed over the years. We are also offering a new webinar on what to ask a volunteer during the intake process, and how you can strengthen your retention strategies to keep your volunteers long-term.

    Finally, we are bringing our very popular proposal writing workshop back, as well as workshops on social media - how to get started and then how to grow your online strategy - and the basics of bookkeeping. We are also introducing a handful of brand new workshops, to help you plan your events, and build your partnerships. PLUS, we are so thrilled to introduce our brand new workshop - Leading from Within! If you are an emerging leader and would like to know how you can improve your leadership skills and rise through the ranks, this is the workshop for you!

    To learn more about our workshops, or to discuss how we can customize our training for your organization's needs, please visit www.volunteermanitoba.ca or contact our Training Coordinator, Tracy Douglass at 204-477-5180.

    Thank you again for supporting Volunteer Manitoba and the work we do to help build the capacity of the non-profit sector in Manitoba! We look forward to learning with you in the new year!

  • Since its inception in 2011, when the United States Senate first officially designated November 16th as I & R Day, this date is used annually across North America to celebrate and advocate for information and referral services and their critical role in a community.

    Here at Volunteer Manitoba, we have two professionals dedicated solely to the management of Information & Referral services across Manitoba.

    Click their names to get to know Philip Wolfart and Alanna Palmer and the critical work they do!


    Who is Philip and why does he email me all the time?
    A conversation with Philip Wolfart, Manager, 211 Manitoba

    "Community I &R is a lot like cataloguing books in a library, but the difference is I get to talk with the authors." Philip Wolfart, an experienced librarian and geographer, has likely chased you down for information at one point or another. He shared with us his professional experiences,the importance of I & R day, and future directions he imagines for the I & R community.

    Why do we celebrate I & R day?
    P: There are a lot of folks who work in the information & referral sector who don't even know they do. Information & Referral has existed since humans decided to organize into communities, such as sharing where the best watering hole is. Since I & R is everywhere, this day highlights all of the work that is being done, and advocating for it's crucial role in community development and healthy societies.

    What board of directors do you currently sit on?
    P: I am the Vice President of Inform Ontario, a member of Inform Canada's board, as well as a member of the 211 National Service Provider Committee.My main role with sitting on these boards is to learn the current challenges the sector is experiencing, participate in meaningful discussions and brainstorm new ways things can be done, and take all of that back to Manitoba.

    What is your background education & experience?
    P: I traveled overseas and studied briefly in France, and eventually pursued a Historical Geography degree at The University of Oxford in England. I eventually completed graduate work in Geography at Queens University, taught Geography courses for Queen's in the UK, and subsequently a master's degree in Library & Information Sciences from Western University. I worked as a librarian for a Law firm, a Business librarian, and eventually a reference librarian for the University of Manitoba. I have been with Volunteer Manitoba since 2011.

    What is your role now, and what do you see in the future?
    P: I am currently the manager of 211 Manitoba, which is the latest manifestation of information & referral. I chase updates from organizations, I help make sure the database is current and complete, as well as liaise with various sectors to develop relationships, such as a current partnership with the newcomer community. I work to leverage information I obtain to create more information. In the future, I imagine the development of a 211 call centre, to follow suit with other 211 centres across Canada. I would like to see a method in place to follow up with referrals, and I hope to see a method of sharing community events, so that people see more of a community calendar than a static phonebook.

    Are there any trends you've noticed?
    P: By far, the most searched for information is related to citizenship.

    You can reach Philip at philip.wolfart@volunteermanitoba.ca or by phone at (204)-477-5180.


    Who is Alanna and what does she do with my information?
    A conversation with Alanna Palmer, Information & Referral Specialist

    Alanna Palmer, the Information & Referral Specialist, can be likened to a walking, talking, community encyclopedia. As the longest working staff here at Volunteer Manitoba, she has seen many developments in the I & R department since she first started back in 2002. We sat down with her to discuss some of the history of Volunteer Manitoba's I & R services, her role and certifications, and to provide an example of the many complex referrals she is trained to tackle with ease.

    How does Volunteer Manitoba fit into I&R?
    A: Believe it or not, Volunteer Manitoba began with collecting information about organizations on recipe cards! The information was used to help direct people to services, to let other organizations know what services existed, and to help direct volunteers. For example, when the 1997 flood happened, people came to us to find out where they could pitch in to help.
    This information became quite robust, and it led to partnerships and contracts with organizations who needed information, such as the creation of the Health Services Directory.
    Nowadays, Volunteer Manitoba is home to 211 Manitoba, and maintains a complex database of community information. We are the intermediaries for so much information.

    What is your role?
    A: I am the Information & Referral Specialist. I help maintain a complex database of community information,through contacting organizations and using taxonomy codes... roughly ten thousand codes are used to classify community services!
    I work with individuals and organizations to connect them to services they need. Additionally, I keep up to date on what is happening in the non-profit community such as AGM's, events, and I take part in occasional outreach. In the future, I hope to continue mentoring people on things to consider before incorporating as an organization.

    The fancy letters beside your name, "AIRS", "CIRS"... What do they mean?
    A: The professional membership association of my work is called the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS). AIRS certifies individuals, databases, even whole call centres! So as an individual, I am AIRS certified. I sat a professional exam in 2007 to become a certified Information Referral Specialist (CIRS). In 2009, I traveled to Calgary to sit the exam to become a resource specialist, which prepared me to do all of the taxonomy mentioned earlier.

    Can you tell us more about your background?
    A: I graduated from the University of Windsor and began practicing as a lawyer. I worked primarily in family law. My dream has always been to help people in some sort of fashion... if blood didn't creep me out, I'd be a doctor! I was helping people in the legal field, however the procedures can take a lot of time, and I sought out the ability to help people faster. As an Information & Referral Specialist, I'm able to help people immensely just with one phone call or one e-mail.
    My career in Law helped train me to become an expert active listener. I can pull all of the important pieces out of a conversation and filter them.

    Can you tell us an interesting story of a referral?
    A: An elderly man needed to transport an urn from many provinces away, to a small town in Manitoba. He couldn't drive, and just had the funds for the plane ticket. I helped navigate finding services to get him from the airport, to the small town, a way around the town, and a hotel to stay in. Referrals often involve many moving parts! He safely and securely got to where he needed to be.

    You can reach Alanna at alanna.palmer@volunteermanitoba.ca, or by phone at (204)-477-5180.


    This VM Blog entry was written by Brianna Boyse

 


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