Westmoreland Association of Volunteer Administrators
by Karen Fetter
One way to help your community is through volunteering, and there are many small, non-profit agencies that need the help. The challenge is often how to match willing volunteers with the work needing done. That is how the Westmoreland Association of Volunteer Administrators (WAVA) can help.
WAVA (www.volunteerwestmoreland.org) is a volunteer organization that promotes volunteerism in Westmoreland County. WAVA offers ways in which the public can find volunteer opportunities that fit their interests and schedules and connect them to the agency of their choice.
The WAVA motto, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it to happen, others make it happen” truly is what WAVA believes in. WAVA began in 1980 to help agencies find volunteers and has expanded over the years to include a website, a Volunteer Fair, and outreach opportunities as well as training opportunities, meetings, and events.
President Louise Wilhelm has been involved with WAVA for 15 years and believes in its mission and what they strive to do. “People can work together and help each other. We help connect the dots and it’s a win for both sides,” Louise said. Louise is also currently the Volunteer and Food Drive Coordinator for Westmoreland Food Bank. Her involvement with other non-profit organizations through the years has kept her a part of WAVA because she has seen the need for volunteerism.
Volunteer Opportunity Guide
The first step people can take to search for a way to volunteer is by reviewing the Volunteer Opportunity Guide.
This Guide helps to find a person’s fit that matches interests, location, agency, and time commitment. You can search agency categories or all the agencies alphabetically.
The Guide gives a small background on the agency along with volunteer opportunities, minimum age requirements, times available, and internship availability.
Some categories that are listed in the Guide include: animals, arts, caregiver, children and families, clothing, criminal, disabilities, educations, elderly, environment, festivals and events, finance, food, maintenance, hospice, housing, medical, office support, recreation, safety, hospitality, transportation, and veterans.
First Time Volunteers
If this is the first time you are interested in volunteering, consider some of the following tips to help you make a good choice.
Before you make the call to a particular agency be aware of what you want to do. You need to do something you enjoy and also be upfront about any limitations you may have as far as time and skills.
You should also learn as much as you can about the organization to make sure this would be the right opportunity for you.
Once you call your agency of choice, make sure to ask a lot of questions. This will help you learn if it is a good match. Also, understand that not every place you are interested in may have openings in what you can do. Be patient and call back at a later date. If there are still no openings then you may have to consider another agency.
When asking questions, make sure you are honest and do not make promises of skills that you do not have as well as time constraints. And lastly, don’t assume that if you don’t receive a call back that the agency doesn’t need you. These organizations often have small staffs and may not have the time to return phone calls quickly. Try to contact them again during normal business hours and make the connection that way.
WAVA is also a perfect place for students to locate internships to fulfill community service or to get experience in a field of choice. The Volunteer Guide lists which agencies have internship opportunities and then the student takes the steps to find out if the agency has hours open and how to coordinate that with his or her college or school.
WAVA holds a Volunteer Fair yearly to let the public meet the agencies face-to-face. This allows both the volunteers and the agencies to coordinate the volunteers and set up good matches.
Should Your Agency Join WAVA?
WAVA also invites new agencies that utilize volunteers to become a member. By becoming a member of WAVA each agency is allowing the networking system to help them find quality volunteers that want to help. The agency will be listed in the Volunteer Guide as well as being placed in the Volunteer Fair.
WAVA also offers workshops to help administrators with recruitment, recognition and interviewing. These skills help to ensure that the volunteer staff is capable of the duties and will work to make the agency thrive. Furthermore, WAVA allows agencies to list fundraising events on its website as well as networked through the membership agencies.
Your Help is Needed, Learn More About WAVA Today
Once you make a match to do volunteer work, make sure that you are responsible and act appropriately. Volunteers have completed a lot of good work, but more still needs to be done. Each agency is relying on good people to step in and help. You may not see the impact of your work at first, but understand that you are making a difference.
And always share new ideas with everyone around you and spread the word of how volunteering has changed your life. If you can get others to join you then more progress can be made.
Make a difference in Westmoreland County and visit www.volunteerwestmoreland.org to find out what you can do today!