When Passion Meets Purpose

Editor’s Note: To commemorate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we’re spotlighting the story of Giovanna Erkanat a do-gooder and volunteer administrator who’s passionate about managing volunteers at The Arc San Francisco. Here’s her story in her own words.

I began working with volunteers as a program associate at a nonprofit in San Francisco. They needed 50 volunteers every day in order to succeed in their mission, so it was an “all hands on deck”-type of introduction to volunteer recruitment and coordination (I wouldn’t have had it any other way!). I took an interest in specializing in volunteer management because of the relationships I built with some of the regular volunteers at the organization. They were amazing people who gave so much of their time back to their communities, and I loved facilitating meaningful experiences for them.

Since then, I’ve transitioned to being the Development & Volunteer Manager at the Arc San Francisco — a nonprofit that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by promoting self-determination, dignity, and quality of life. In my role, I help manage and lead a team of dedicated volunteers serving different functions that are essential for our clients. While their tasks vary, volunteers help our clients learn important social skills. Some of them live very isolated lives, and volunteers help fill that void.

VolunteerMatch has helped us recruit skilled volunteers with specific skill sets we need in order to succeed. We recruit several general volunteers to help with our programs — such as facilitating an art class or attending a game night — but we’ve had a hard time finding volunteers for more skilled tasks, such as Salesforce data entry or LinkedIn tutors. VolunteerMatch lets me put a specific call out to the community of active volunteers, and connect with candidates that can really give us the specialized help we need.

Thinking it would be a nice way to fill some empty time at the Arc in a healthy way, a colleague asked me if I could find a volunteer to teach Tai Chi to clients while they wait for their ride home in the evening. I didn’t know anyone who teaches Tai Chi (and had no idea where to find someone who does), so I turned to VolunteerMatch…

Read the rest of Giovanna’s story and submit your own story for a chance to be featured on VolunteerMatch!