Volunteers Support Professional Development
July 11, 2018 | Katie Wall
I’ve been a member of the SWR team for a long time, starting as a volunteer back in 2008. The volunteer structure at SWR is very close to my heart. Over the years, I’ve seen the power of this model and what it’s done for the organization, helping us to reach higher and do more, with limited financial resources. I’ve also seen the valuable and transferable work experience that volunteers have gained from being part of the SWR team. Recently, in the last year and a half, I’ve come to truly appreciate a new layer that’s been added to the model.
To set the context, historically our Human Resources and Finance teams have been entirely run by volunteers with support from the Executive Director. With the understanding that additional support will be required in these areas as we continue to grow our programs and our team, a 2016 org review recommended the creation of a new staff role. I was happy to step into this role, supporting Human Resources, Finance, IT and Fund Development.
Despite having completed a BBA, where I learned the basics of Human Resources and Finance, I didn’t specialize in either, and there’s been a steep learning curve in this new role. I’ve been lucky though, as the volunteers that work in these areas of the organization have been more than willing to help. In the past year and a half, we have not only continued to have wonderful volunteers on our Finance and HR teams, there have been a handful of them that have become so much more. They have become mentors.
These volunteers are professionals in their fields, experts. They have gone above and beyond their volunteer role descriptions to not only ensure the success of the organization but to help me become more knowledgeable, a better team member and more fully equipped to manage these areas of the organization. We have spent countless hours talking about QuickBooks, bank reconciliations, budget creation, balance sheet accounts, audits and the difference between cash and accrual accounting. We have dived deeply into employment law, chatted best practices for employee engagement, done dozens of interviews for staff and volunteer positions, and dug into performance management and compensation. From these people I have learned so much. I have grown so much. In many ways, the time they give to me is central to my professional development.
A special thank you goes out to each of Cathy Snyder, Patrick Kelly, Rick Snyder, and Yvonne Stoll.
I can’t tell you how many hours they have spent with me explaining theoretical concepts, the application of these concepts, the best practices that should be in place, and the legislation we must know and follow. These four people bring their expertise, but also their kind and open hearts to SWR, patiently sharing their knowledge in a supportive way. They have become team members, mentors, and friends. They have, through me, given the organization some staff expertise in these areas.
Thank you to each of you for teaching me, encouraging me, spending you time with me, and being my PD!
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