NPC: Please describe the organization you work for and the work they do.
Susan: Pathfinders provides an array of services for vulnerable youth from ages 11 through 25. Our continuum of services includes the Youth Shelter, Drop-In Center, Hand-In-Hand counseling services for young survivors of sexual abuse, and Southeastern Education Center, an MPS behavioral reassignment school.
NPC: What is your role or title with the organization, how long have you been a volunteer there and what are your responsibilities?
Susan: I have been the Volunteer Manager for the past four years and a volunteer at the Drop-In Center for the year prior to that. My role is to recruit individuals and groups of volunteers, provide an orientation to Pathfinders, and provide support to both staff and the volunteers.
NPC: What drives you to be a volunteer manager?
Susan: What drives me to do this job is all the amazing people I get to meet and engaging them with our youth and young adults. Our volunteers are a diverse group and each has their own talents to share. It is very rewarding when a volunteer mentor and student or young adult make a connection and you can see the positive impact that connection is having on the student’s or young adult’s life.
NPC: What has surprised you the most about your work?
Susan: What surprises me the most is the willingness of our youth and young adults to make that connection and how willing some of them are to open themselves up to the relationship.
NPC: What have you learned?
Susan: Being both a volunteer and a Volunteer Manager has allowed me to see the best in people. I get to see how many people want to become engaged with our youth and just need the right place and support to be successful at it. I also have the opportunity to see the best of our youth and their talents and needs and see how the two can successfully come together.
NPC: Has volunteering changed your point of view?
Susan: I have been a volunteer for a long time and it has totally changed my life. It led to a career change and I never looked back. I have always had an interest in people and in the helping professions, and my volunteer experiences shaped my decision to enter the social work field, which then led to an interest in engaging volunteers. When you volunteer, you have the opportunity to have experiences that you may not ordinarily have. It can be life changing.
NPC: What’s something you are proud to have accomplished as a volunteer manager?
Susan: Four years ago, Pathfinders had about 50 volunteers at the Youth Shelter and no real plan in place to foster volunteer engagement and provide support to all programs. We now have over 300 volunteers bringing their time and talents to all our programs and are constantly coming up with new volunteer opportunities. We have become an agency with a strong culture of volunteerism.
NPC: Would you recommend volunteering to someone else? If so, why.
Susan: If you want to have new experiences, grow and learn new things, become a volunteer!