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Volunteers

Articles about serving and working with volunteers.

A Day in the Life, Part 2

In Part One of this blog series, we took a look behind-the-scenes at some of the work and networking that takes place for the ministry's work to get done. Today, we'll look at a service project day.

Day 1 - Project Day


Serving HomeownersToday is Saturday and it's our usual project day (if you live in metro-Atlanta, and are interested, please join us on a project. We need you!). I wake up early, pray, read some Scripture and think about today’s devotional for the crew.

I grab the pile of tools, boxes, compressors and hoses, extension cords and the cooler with drinks and load the truck. I am out the door by 7:30 a.m.

On site, I greet volunteers as they arrive, get waivers signed by the new ones, explain how the project should go and find out who is comfortable going up on a ladder. We have a devotional and a prayer with the homeowner and volunteers and the work begins. I always try to finish by early afternoon, if possible.

We found rotten studs behind the drywall we are patching. Sometimes projects grow in scope right before your eyes. I arrive home late, due to the surprise with the studs. I rest for a bit, then unload everything I can’t lock up in the truck. It’s been a tiring but rewarding day! Thank you, Lord!


Engaging Your Yutes

Youth ServingDoes your church struggle for ways to get the youth out in the community and serving in a meaningful way?

Or maybe you'd like to have them serving on a more regular cadence? That raises two small questions - how do you do that and where can they serve?

We'd like to suggest an alternative that can be a great way to engage youth. Getting your youth involved in simple home repair or cleanup projects can potentially have five really important benefits:

1) You don't need a ton of supplies or resources. A couple yard tools, some garbage bags, a supervisor and voila, you have a community outreach opportunity.

2) A home repair or yard cleanup can get your youth in direct contact with people in need. This might be their first direct exposure to poverty or to vulnerable people groups who need to see Christ's love.

3) Your youth can serve members in your congregation who need a little help. Maybe a single mom is overwhelmed and needs her lawn mowed or a widow needs leaves cleaned up from her yard. Wouldn't it be a good witness to the world to see your youth serving your congregation members? Could that be one way that church members love one another? John 13:34-35 (NIV)

4) For kids who have not been exposed to serving others before, especially those who are handy or enjoy the outdoors, they might actually discover that they actually like serving and helping others.

5) You kids can see that Kingdom service doesn't necessarily require travelling overseas or a huge, exotic project. A small, "mundane" task done with a heavenly spirit can bring a lot of joy to both the recipient and the giver.

As Brother Lawrence, 17th century lay monk said, "We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed."


Strength in Numbers

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12 shows that “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (NRSV) We’ve seen that wisdom from God lived out in our ministry.

We were desiring to serve more people and grow the ministry, but increasing the budget wasn't an option. Sound familiar?

We knew that we needed help, so late in 2012, we asked several of our top volunteers to come on as an Advisory team that we now call “The Core Team”. They were originally intended to be a sounding Board and operational assistance for our two staff. They have been more valuable than we could have imagined (in fact, most off them have joined our Board of Directors!).

With their individual skills, strengths and passions, they have helped in a number of areas:

  1. Managing home repair and accessibility projects (allowing the ministry to multiply impact).
  2. Helping us update our overall direction for the ministry and strategic plan. Like Proverbs 11:14 teaches, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (ESV).
  3. Connecting with a foundation, which allowed for a very helpful discussion about how we present what we do and what foundations look for.
  4. Perhaps most importantly, giving us encouragement!

  5. How about you? Are there areas where your ministry wants to improve or expand, but you don’t have enough staff and Board to tackle it all? Have you fully leveraged your ministry’s “super volunteers”?

    2011 photos and videos 3995Did a face or name pop into your mind? If not, can you think of people who work with you regularly, with the heart, commitment, vision and availability to take on more and provide your critical services to the community? It might start simply with some men and women providing some new ideas and insights - plotting out your most critical needs and next steps.

    And looking at it from the other side, are you managing your faithful volunteers well? Are there opportunities that you could be providing for them to grow and feel more valued? By fully leveraging volunteers (while being respectful of schedules!), everyone wins – your organization can provide more services, volunteers are challenged and allowed to grow, and the community gets more needs met!


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Making a Great Volunteer Experience

Do your volunteers leave feeling fulfilled?

I used to think that people served because they thought they were needed. However, over the years, I have come to the conclusion that there are many things driving volunteers. Based on these driving forces, here are a few things l keep in mind:

    Skilled HRM volunteer
  • Have I asked the Lord for the right volunteers?
  • When the volunteers arrive at the worksite, have they had the opportunity to meet the homeowner or nonprofit staff we’re serving?
  • Am I ready to make assignments and have them start as soon as we kickoff the day with a short devotion and prayer?
  • Are the needed tools and materials on site?
  • Is the project laid out so there isn’t any down time while someone figures out how/where it goes?
  • Are the needed skills available so I’m not asking people to do things that are beyond their capacity or beneath them (though a reasonable challenge is acceptable, we don’t recruit certain skilled carpenters to paint or do yard work)?
  • Have I planned to break up a large project into multiple days so as not to go too late in one day (unless they expect to go longer than usual)?
  • When the volunteers leave at the end of the serving day, do they feel like their time was invested well (with little standing around), that the “client” was “truly needy”, and though tired, feel like they want to do this again?

HRM Group shotI let the thoughts above shape whom we serve, what size and type of project we tackle, who we recruit, and I try to project how I would feel as a volunteer on the project.

Lastly, when a project blows up in your face due to circumstances you cannot control, handle the situation with a smile to your volunteers, learn from it and move on to the next opportunity with a positive outlook. We live in a fallen world and Jesus is coming to restore God’s Kingdom to perfection unstained by sin – it is why He died! “. . . in this world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 quoting Jesus.


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Handy Man and Woman, God Wants to Use You!

Romans 12:6-8 tells us that, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Theologian John Wesley had a quote with a similar message, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

Both Paul and John Wesley are encouraging the same thing – for every follower of Christ to serve and to use the gifts and abilities the Lord has bestowed on them. What an encouragement to those of us without the “sexy” spiritual gifts. I think that some people get discouraged because they don’t teach, can’t sing and aren’t good with kids.

Working on a ProjectWell, if you are a handyman (or woman), God has some great news for you! You have gifts to use in service of the Kingdom and low-income and struggling homeowners. What a difference you can make for single mothers, widows, the elderly and disabled without the means or abilities to make needed repairs or accessibility upgrades! Your ability to build and repair things can be a way for you to show Christ’s love to a member of the Body of Christ, and also to members of the community (along with the chance to show and share the gospel). Our ministry, home repair, in particular, provides a unique opportunity – the chance to engage with the homeowner at their invitation on their own turf.

Not sure how to get started or how to look for projects? Well, if you live in Atlanta, you can join us on a project! Even if you consider yourself unskilled, we can use you. Also, our ministry, Home Repairs Ministries, exists, among other reasons, to help churches start home repair teams so that they can get more projects and serve more people. Check out the ministry resource library, and let’s use the gifts God has given us, together, in service of Jesus the Savior!


Categories: Service, Volunteers Tags:

Increasing Ministry Impact by Doing Less (...ourselves)

If you have been following the ministry for a while, you know that our heart is to extend the gospel, our outreach and the ministry as far as we can while uniting the church together in service. Last year’s strategy was built around providing a toolkit and resources for churches to launch their own ministries. This year, we are making an adjustment and adding an element we lacked last year - one that we believe will help more churches start teams and more projects get done.

We have been blessed with some very gifted volunteers but until now, have not organized them to act together. We are convinced that we can use volunteers more effectively for leadership roles on projects and in assisting in all aspects of running the ministry. The last couple months, we have been meeting with some faithful people that have been involved and committed to the vision of HRM and are now stepping up to use their time and expertise in critical focus areas. These areas include project site visits & leadership, networking to professional resources, fundraising, planning, supporting existing church teams, and ministry expansion into other areas of Metro Atlanta. We are currently calling the group The Core Team. It will act both as an advisory board and an implementation team.

If you're in Atlanta and you, or someone you know, have a heart for this kind of thing, please let me know. We think this is an excellent strategy to increase our impact and number of projects in 2013 from around 50 to 75 and the number of churches participating from 15 to 23.


Engaging the Unengaged - Starting a Team in Your Church

We've talked quite a bit in the blog about the need for home repairs for widows, single mothers, the elderly and disabled, but aside from the primary blessings of serving Jesus and our brothers, sisters and neighbors, there is also a practical reasons for your church to consider a home repair team.

Handymen UnleashedIn almost every church there is a group of handy people that are called upon for their skills. Some help maintain the church building, some go on construction-related mission trips, and some help with the occasional odd job presented by a needy congregation member. Most of the time these previously mentioned groups serve when called upon, but they are not actively looking for projects. Did some faces and names come to mind?

Men (and women) on the periphery of the ministry are found in many churches but cannot figure out how to serve in the church if they don’t sing, teach, direct traffic, or participate in childcare. But, they can use their hands! When these people are engaged, there is an army of handymen ready to jump in and “get it done”.

So, what might move a church like yours toward starting a home repair ministry team?

  • An existing handyman group needs organizing or refining for effectiveness
  • There are interested men in the church
  • There is someone in the church with a need
  • The pastor or staff have the idea of starting a team for outreach purposes
  • To build a Men’s Ministry
  • There are needs in the community close to the church

So, one of the best ways to form a home repairs team is to identify these handy people and get them behind, and committed to, an effort to launch your home repairs ministry. Or, put another way, encourage them to do what they were already doing, only in a more organized and effective manner.

We can help you get started with a library of resources to help you start and run a team.


Should We Take the Project?

Once your home repair team is taking projects it is important to have criteria by which you can make a "go/no go" decision.

It is generally good practice not to make a snap decision on helping if there is any doubt. Get back to the team and talk about it. Make a visit or even multiple visits to the site with more people, if questions remain. It is easy to tell the homeowner that you need to present the information to the team so that they can make a decision.

Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. It could be as simple as sending a father and son to change the flush mechanism of a leaky toilet. It may not even be necessary to make a pre-project site visit. Let the person visiting the site evaluate and complete a project if possible.

What criteria will be used to evaluate a project and Go/No Go?

Projects should be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Broken down houseSize: Is it feasible for the team to tackle the project in terms of time and people needed?
  • Safety: Can you do the project without putting the homeowner, ministry, or volunteers at risk?
  • Skills Required: Does the team have the skills required to complete the project? You can run off your volunteers if you give them projects that they don't know how to handle.
  • Repair or Improvement: If the project is deemed a repair, it is eligible for volunteer assistance. If an improvement, unless it is absolutely necessary, it automatically becomes a referral to a professional. The exception to this is when an improvement is necessary because of a specific, critical situation (i.e. handicapped ramps). Sometimes special projects (playgrounds, fences) are considered if they make the home more “livable” for adults or children.
  • Financial Situation: While the ministry does not have rigid income requirements for assistance, the financial situation of the homeowner is considered. If the homeowner is struggling financially, then help may be offered based on assistance from a financial ministry.

How Do I Set Up A Home Repair Team, Part III

Roof projectThis is the third and final part of the three-part blog series, "How Do I Set Up a Home Repair Team?" In the first post, we looked at the ministry leadership team and role. In the second blog, we looked at the all-important Project Leader role.

Today we conclude by looking at the Project Coordinator and Tradesman roles. If your team looks a little different and doesn't have all of these positions, that's fine. These are suggestions only.

Project Coordinator

  • Contacts the homeowner to obtain a thorough description of items that need to be addressed
    

  • Visits the homeowner during the scoping of the project (preferably along with the PL)
    

  • Assists the PL and Leadership Team in contacting volunteers for the project
  • Follows up with the homeowner to address any additional concerns, put them in contact with other ministries, etc.
  • Periodically updates the homeowner on the status of the project


Tradesmen

  • Individuals who work professionally or are very accomplished in a particular skill
  • Provide non-leadership expertise for specific needs / projects

      For more suggestions for starting and running a home repair team as a mercy/outreach ministry, sign up for our resources at no cost!
      Read the rest of the series:

      Part 1       Part 2


How Do I Set Up A Home Repair Team, Part II

Roof projectThis is part two of the blog series, "How Do I Set Up a Home Repair Team?"

In the first post, we looked at the ministry leadership team and role. This series is one possible way to set up a home repair team as a mercy or outreach ministry (and probably represents a more mature ministry, although the ideas here should hopefully be very helpful to younger ministries as well). If yours looks different, that's fine. Use what works.

Today we look at one of the most important members of your home repair ministry, the Project Leader.

Project Leader Responsibilities

  • Prior to Project
    • Estimates and confirms scope of the project
    • Works with Home Repairs Leadership to establish Project Date
    • Synchronizes with Project Coordinator (if necessary) to contact homeowner
    • Insures confirmed volunteers have been contacted and have date/start time/directions, etc.

    • Project Day
        Project Day
      • Arranges for necessary supplies to be available when needed
        • Obtains as much as possible in advance
        • Plans for supply run(s)
        • Delays start of volunteers if materials are late or other delays occur
      • Assigns work to volunteers
      • Insures work is conducted in a safe manner
      • Verifies that assigned volunteer tasks match their abilities
      • Makes sure appropriate tools and safety equipment are used
      • Insures that team operates in a respectful, polite manner
        • The team represents your church
        • Most importantly, the team members serve as ambassadors of Jesus Christ
        • If there is a problem with someone on the team who may not understand this issue, please refer the situation to one of the leadership team members
      • Insures that job site is cleaned up and any debris removed

      • Post Project Follow up
        • Notify Home Repairs Leadership of final status of project for the day
          • What was completed
          • What was not completed
          • Any additional requests/issues
          • Final list of volunteers
        • Turn in expenses for reimbursement

      Our goal in handling projects is that from the time we get a project on the list to the time we complete the project should be no more than 3 months, preferably.
      Read the rest of the series:

      Part 1       Part 3