TAVA Member Spotlight

    

Name: Richard Steinecke

Organization: Oasis Dufferin Community Centre

Role: President and Board Chair

Involved with Volunteer Engagement initiatives for: 15+ years

Been a part of TAVA for: one month


"Never give up on volunteers who are going through a difficult time. Simply being there for them when they are ready to return can result in restored relationships and valuable assistance."

Why did you join TAVA?

A colleague said that you are a valuable organization.

Would you please explain the Volunteer Engagement success you're most proud of and how you implemented it?

This is an individual experience and not a program initiative. I became close to one of our longest serving volunteers. He had turned his life completely around and he credited it to his involvement with Oasis. In fact he would come with me to speak to donor groups and community events about how Oasis had helped him. We began to rely on him extensively in some of our programs.

However, last year he began to suffer from a health condition and other circumstances in his life. He began to act out with other volunteers and staff. The usual supports did not work and his conduct worsened. Finally staff insisted he be required to take a break from the organization. I had the difficult job of informing him. He was upset and angry. However, I maintained contact with him. I set up a number of meetings with him, which he agreed to attend, but then did not show (without warning). However, I and others at Oasis persisted and he came around from time to time during non-program hours. When he visited us we got updates on his circumstances and offered encouragement to him.

Over time he indicated a desire to return to help us and we set up a graduated return plan. He did not like the idea of a graduated return, but cooperated. We noticed a huge change in his attitude and now he is fully restored to us. The lesson from this is never to give up on volunteers who are going through a difficult time. Simply being there for them when they are ready to return can result in restored relationships and valuable assistance.


In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge to working in Volunteer Engagement?

The biggest challenge for me is not reacting emotionally to conduct that is personally upsetting. Understanding that there are reasons for why people do things and patiently maintaining boundaries with compassion is critical.

If you could travel back in time to one year ago, what Volunteer Engagement advice would you give yourself?


Find people outside of the organization to share your feelings of frustration and (yes, even) anger with so that you maintain your perspective.

When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?

Watching British crime dramas on television, hence the need to get off the couch and volunteer.


Published: September 2018

Copyright Toronto Association for Volunteer Administration
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software