We’ve talked and talked (and talked and talked) about the benefits of employee volunteer programs, including volunteer time off (VTO). Now we want to show you. In this series of blog posts, we’ll interview some of our own employees to find out how they spend their volunteer hours, and why they love VTO.
So, who are you?
I’m Jennifer Bennett. I joined VolunteerMatch in 2007 to formalize and manage the volunteer engagement program. I also help VolunteerMatch’s community of nonprofits better recruit and engage volunteers, such as through the webinars found on the Learning Center.
Where do you volunteer?
I volunteer with the Justice & Diversity Center at Project Homeless Connect. I help run the Legal Aid, California DMV/ID, and Vital Records area. Mostly, that means that I try to coordinate chaos! We see over 350 clients during each Project Homeless Connect and I make sure that those clients are seen quickly and move smoothly through the DMV/ID area, as well as teach people how to obtain a copy of their birth certificate.
What is the most fun part of your volunteering? What’s the most valuable?
I wouldn’t use the word “fun” to describe what I do, but I do find it rewarding and meaningful. The part I enjoy the most is helping clients navigate the complex process of getting a California ID, or meeting with a lawyer. Both of those activities are challenging in a day-to-day setting, and this becomes much more challenging when you’re facing homelessness, when English isn’t your first language, or if you aren’t familiar with government systems. When I can help a client get an ID so they can get a bed in a shelter or apply for benefits, I know I’ve made a difference in that person’s quality of life.
Can you share a story or two from your time volunteering?
Every Project Homeless Connect is full of stories – you get to meet and know the people in this city that many people just walk by. But as overwhelming as the problem of homelessness can be, and as much as it can feel like one person can’t make a difference, volunteering is a reminder that one person can.
Would you be able to volunteer if VolunteerMatch didn’t offer VTO?
I could use regular PTO to volunteer, since it’s only once every few months. But, the fact that I don’t have to – that I have VTO – makes it much easier to do. It’s also great to know that my volunteering is supported by my employer.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’ve spent most of my career working with volunteers and supporting the work that they do. I don’t think I could be as good at my job as I am if I wasn’t also an active volunteer. Every time I go out to volunteer I’m reminded about what makes an awesome volunteer opportunity, and how I should be treating, supporting, and recognizing the volunteers that I work with. I’m incredibly thankful to have that opportunity.