By: Jolleen Wagner
February 16, 2011
The middle of the service year is a time for service programs to take time and evaluate what could done better or in new ways to support our volunteers. Volunteers have entered programs to serve those entrusted to their care and enter into relationship with them – whether they are children, adults, families or communities. Serving those in need, volunteers face the daily realities of being worn down. Consistently giving of oneself leads to a need for physical and spiritual renewal. For a number of years, Volunteers Exploring Vocations (VEV) and its member programs have been working together to provide that renewal for our volunteers. In the spirit of caring for ourselves in order to minister well to others, On January 30th and February 1st of this year VEV called five program leaders around the table in hopes of determining a valuable and realistic way to provide renewal to those leading programs and working directly with volunteers. The task at hand was not simple nor is there an easy answer as the five of us represent tens of program leaders and staff from around the country.
With less than two days to see where the Spirit would lead, this team traveled to come together in Nashville, TN. To compound things, one of the largest winter storms in years was taking the greater US by surprise and airlines were promising to cancel flight after flight, giving us a choice: return to our home airports at the earliest possibility or remain together in Nashville for a week plus. In hope that the Spirit would work with earnest, we began brainstorming and re-booking flights simultaneously!
Beginning with a prayer and reflection, our little group settled into work and attempted to list the multitudes of needs program staff have. We found ourselves considering the benefits of spiritual direction, local colleague groups, and conference calls about relevant issues facing service programs and volunteers. Our brainstorming led to thinking through the advantages and disadvantages of national and regional conferences that would provide program staff with resources for their own spiritual renewal while adding to the tools they need to better serve volunteers. Our brainstorming, planning and excitement paired with the guidance of the Spirit, moved us toward the creation of a user-friendly survey that would allow program staff to identify and tell us their needs As we worked to create tangible results, I was reminded of the words of Stephen R. Covey, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”
Called together in Nashville, we succumbed to Mother Nature’s winter whimsy as the Spirit guided us in addressing the needs of our journey. As we continue to ride the wave of energy and thought from Nashville to home; seeking the voices and wisdom of our peers, I carry no doubt we will be working with VEV to create superb opportunities of renewal and support for our program staff.