Sunday, February 19, 2012

Orientation IS the most important step

You have spent time and effort to get the volunteer in the door, now keep them there! This blog post at VolunteerHub does a nice job singing the praises of the orientation, not just putting the volunteer to work.  While they seem to be aiming at the non-disaster volunteer, it rings true for disaster-volunteers too; we need to do a solid orientation.  

The orientation for my MRC takes about 1.5 hours, done monthly.  I cover many things; paperwork, history of the MRC, what our unit does (we do several Public Health related missions per month) the laws and how they apply to them in a disaster.  But one of the things I do that I think sticks is put up a slide that says:

In 5 minutes or less, tell us-
  • Your name
  • Whether you are a medical or support volunteer
  •  Why you are here
  • Where you live (my county covers 2,000 square miles and has 37 cities, in 3 zones)
This short talk by the volunteer in front of the other newbie’s (usually 10-12) takes care of introductions, lets them connect with others in their zone, as well as seeing they are like other people (why you are here question).
So don't take a short cut and skip the orientation, make it worth their time to show up at 530 on a work night or a Saturday morning, and give them the opportunity to feel like part of something bigger.


PS: If you are going to be in the Seattle area, I invite you to attend one of my orientations (you will be a guest- no paperwork :))

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