Giving and Leading: Volunteerism

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We’ll tell you about The Joy Bus, a local, non-profit that delivers farm-fresh and nutritionally-packed meals to homebound cancer patients free of charge and with the help of volunteers. Then we will discuss the role volunteers play in non-profit organizations and the issues faced in using volunteer help. Chris Helmuth, vice president of HandsOn Greater Phoenix, a non-profit volunteer management organization and Debbie Moak, director, Governor’s Office for Youth, Faith and Family, will tell us more.

TED SIMONS: for more information on the Joy Bus head to their website, Joining us to discuss the role volunteers play in nonprofit organizations is Chris Helmuth, vice president of Hands On Greater Phoenix, a non profit volunteer management organization, also with us is Debbie Moak, the director of the governor's office for youth, faith and family. Thanks for joining us. First of all hands on, what are we talking about?

CHRIS HELMUTH: We're a local organization that serves mainly Maricopa County. We're all about volunteerism. We really focus probably more on episodic volunteering. We try to make it easy and fun for busy working people around Maricopa County. We also offer a wide variety of opportunities like national service, more committed volunteer opportunities, skills based volunteers. We try to be the place where you can go to get started.

TED SIMONS: coordinating effort.

CHRIS HELMUTH: most people say they want to volunteer but they are not sure how to get started. We're a great place to kick them off.

TED SIMONS: obviously a great place to get started but do you hear people want to volunteer but don't know where to go?

DEBBIE MOAK: very much so. That's an important role our agency plays and will play an even greater role in this administration. Under the governor's office of youth, safety and family we're home to eight of the state's commissions and councils. One of which being the service and volunteer council, our brand new, newly inked executive order of last week was the governor's council on child safety and family poem power -- empowerment, then the growth's youth commission. We have onboarded 51 youth this year to serve from all 15 counties for the first time. We'll be working with youth-led initiatives.

TED SIMONS: volunteers. Who is most likely to volunteer?

CHRIS HELMUTH: Well, I think our organization is pretty representative of the statistics, national statistics in the state. You'll see women a little bit more often than men. The age group of about 35 to 45 you see a little more often. We're certainly seeing -- talking about youth and teens getting more involved, sometimes that's because schools are requiring volunteer service hours as a degree requirement or diploma requirement. Also families are just getting more involved together.

TED SIMONS: are these mostly one-time volunteers or are these folks that will continue and be in the long term?

DEBBIE MOAK: So what's important about the governor's councils and commissions is that you have the council, the people who are being seated, and two of our councils are currently being seated for service. So they will help to lead the initiatives but we need to raise it up an army of support for the committees serving with these councils.

CHRIS HELMUTH: we see people sort of part of your life at different times. We see people volunteer at times in their lives when their schedule allows a little bit more, then they may fade off because of family obligations or work obligations, then they come back.

TED SIMONS: where are volunteers needed most?

CHRIS HELMTUH: I don't know that I could pick just one area. You see a wide variety of nonprofits, churches, government commissions that all need volunteers. I don't know that I would pick one particular. I would say that the majority of volunteers do serve through their churches. They do probably focus more on tutoring and parents are more invested in their child's school so they volunteer there more often.

TED SIMONS: As far as challenges in using volunteer help for some of the nonprofits and charities what are some of the challenges?

DEBBIE MOAK: challenges. Well, actually, I don't feel challenged by them. I have to say. I like what you just said in regard to the faith base. Because our brand new council, we're really reaching out to engage the faith-based community. All are welcome. All faiths. All who wish to serve. We understand that by and large we can garner an entire church of volunteers and we really -- this new council is focused on foster care youth and families.

TED SIMONS: I want to find out the challenges now.

CHRIS HELMUTH: With volunteers? Well, you know, I think if you look at the trends over the last 30 years people, organizations are seeing people are more interested in like I used the figure episodic volunteering. Their work schedules are tougher, longer hours, more family obligations. They don't have as much time to commit to one place four, five, ten, twenty hours a month so they are looking for a place where they can get in, feel like they make an impact, make a difference, then go on with their day. While that's a great opportunity for a lot of organizations to introduce volunteers to who they are, what they do and what they have to offer, and what services they provide, sometimes that can be a challenge if an organizations looking for a committed volunteer who can commit a certain amount of time and certain skills.

TED SIMONS: Can there be a problem with a volunteer who knows a whole heck of a lot and gets a little pushy?

CHRIS HELMUTH: Well, of course not. No. Absolutely not.

TED SIMONS: never happens.

CHRIS HELMUTH: Every volunteer is fantastic. You do see with millennials specifically and also the other work force volunteers people are interested in using their skills more often now when they volunteer than maybe 30 years ago. I think nonprofits are sometimes challenged in how to use those people fully. They know they have needs, but they are not sure how to frame something so it fits with the volunteer's schedule.

TED SIMONS: Arizona ranked 40th in the U.S. for volunteers. Why not better?

DEBBIE MOAK: We are up from 46th.

TED SIMONS: All right, then. Why not better than 40?

DEBBIE MOAK: This year it will be.

CHRIS HELMUTH: I think it has to do with the way our valley is spread out. They say the closer people are geographically the more connected they feel, the easier it is to get involved. We're a state that has people from different areas that are not necessarily from Arizona, and they are less likely to get involved, but it's a great way to feel more connected to the community when you volunteering.

TED SIMONS: thank you both for joining us. We appreciate it.

DEBBIE MOAK: Thank you

TED SIMONS: Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon" Chicago-based university opens up a satellite cam Wuss in the valley and we'll look at efforts to preserve buildings at the state fairgrounds at 5:30 and 10:00 on the next "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Chris Helmuth : vice president of HandsOn Greater Phoenix, a non-profit volunteer management organization , Debbie Moak : Director, Governor's Office for Youth, Faith and Family

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