AmeriCorps*State’s ability to get service done in Connecticut for over 20 years is a testament to state programs’ commitment to addressing the needs of local communities. One of AmeriCorps’ primary goals is to strengthen and develop communities by engaging Connecticut residents in service. In these economic times, AmeriCorps*State programs now, more than ever before, must seek additional avenues to sustain their efforts. Volunteer participation, outreach at AmeriCorps events, and the resulting collaborations and partnerships can advance a program’s impact on target community needs.
Annually, there are many events celebrated both locally and nationally across the National Service Network. Each occasion is an opportunity to spotlight your program’s impact while fulfilling programmatic needs. Some examples of what can be achieved during these events are raising member morale, inspiring Connecticut residents, recruiting new individuals, and expanding your program’s reach in communities. A few CNCS-sponsored events are described below. Also see your program’s grant agreement for events in which AmeriCorps*State programs are required to participate and submit the AmeriCorps Day of Service Monitoring Tool. See Days of Service Tools.
National Day of Remembrance
September 11, 2018
National Day of Remembrance provides a positive and forward-looking way for Americans and others to forever honor and remember the victims, survivors, and the many that rose in service in response to the 9/11 tragedy, including first responders, recovery workers, volunteers, public safety officers and members of our military. For more information, visit http://www.911day.org
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
January 21, 2019
The purpose of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is to mobilize Americans to observe this holiday as time to gather people to serve others and encourage participants to make a long-term commitment to service. The Corporation for National and Community Service is responsible for promoting this day as a day of service to honor the life and teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. http://www.mlkday.gov/
Global Youth Service Day
April 12-14, 2019
GYSD is an annual global event that highlights and celebrates the contributions of youth to their communities through volunteer service. During Global Youth Service Day, youth around the world organize community service projects to address the needs of their local communities to be recognized for their contributions to be a part of a global youth service movement. http://www.gysd.org
National Conference on Volunteering and Service
June 18-20, 2019
The National Conference on Volunteering and Service is a wonderful way for Program Directors to gain knowledge, inspiration, best practices and opportunities to network with other states regarding AmeriCorps and volunteerism. Convened by CNCS and the Points of Light Institute, this annual event provides attendees with a wide range of exciting informational plenary sessions, workshops, special events, service projects, exhibits, specialized corporate tracks and more. Commissioners, CCCS staff and Program Directors normally attend to remain up-to-date on community service trends across the country. http://www.pointsoflight.org/signature-events. Tools, blogs, and other valuable resources are available at http://serve.gov/.
Make a Difference Day
October 27, 2018
Make a Difference Day was created by USA Weekend magazine and is the most encompassing national day of helping others. Held annually on the fourth Saturday of October, millions of Americans are rallied into a single day of action to help change the world. http://www.makeadifferenceday.com/
March 11-15, 2019
The purpose of AmeriCorps Week is to raise consciousness about the meaning of AmeriCorps service and its impact on AmeriCorps members, American communities, and the nation as a whole. http://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/current-members/americorps-week
Atlantic Region National Service Training Conference
TBD 2019 – Typically in Spring
Regional National Service Training Conferences are held annually and provide a training opportunity for national service program staff. AmeriCorps*Connecticut programs are required to attend the Atlantic Region event. All streams of national service are also encouraged and welcome to attend, including but not limited to AmeriCorps State/National, Senior Corps, State Service Commissions, Social Innovation Fund, AmeriCorps VISTA, Volunteer Generation Fund, Tribal Grantees, and AmeriCorps NCCC. http://www.nationalservicetraining.org/
Volunteers are a key component to building a stronger community. At times, the expectations of AmeriCorps program volunteers are unclear. It is up to the Program Director or other key staff to utilize volunteers efficiently and maximize community impact. Volunteers in AmeriCorps programs are viewed as individuals who can expand the reach of your service opportunity’s ability to address identified community needs. For example, volunteers can promote your program to increase networking opportunities, sponsorships and partnerships. Volunteers add to your program’s pool of skills, expertise and talents.
[Volunteer] retention begins when you have accurately described the volunteer position and assessed whether the potential volunteer is right for the job. Hence, retention begins in the interview process. Tune in to the volunteer’s main reason for volunteering and honor this throughout his/her time with you. Retention refers to the volunteer's adherence to the initial contract agreement. If a volunteer is asked to commit 4 hours a week for a six month period, and the volunteer leaves after 6 months, it can be said that the retention was successful.
Retention Tip Sheet from Serve.Nebraska.Gov
TIP: Volunteers for your AmeriCorps program should never be engaged in AmeriCorps Prohibited Activities while performing volunteer service on your behalf. If your program requires AmeriCorps members to engage volunteers, be sure that both the member and the volunteer are trained in avoiding Prohibited Activities and that the activities engaged in by volunteers are documented as compliant.
Program Directors oversee the recruitment of volunteers. Regardless of how your program structures volunteer recruitment, Program Directors are responsible for integrating volunteers into a service environment where everyone is supported. During the member recruitment process you may find candidates who are not the right fit for your program’s membership. However, these individuals may be good candidates for volunteering with your service program.
Depending on the nature of your program, members (under the supervision of their Program Director) may have volunteer management responsibilities. If so, outlining the duties of volunteers, training volunteers to understand their roles, and instructing members on how to direct volunteers are necessary measures to ensure effective member-driven volunteer management. Volunteers are not members who are bound by the guidelines of a member contract and should not be treated as members. There may be instances where a specific task, function, responsibility, directive and/or expectation are the same for a member and a volunteer; hence, it is important to establish clear distinctions between their roles.
Program Directors should not lower expectations or become lenient with volunteers. A Program Director’s supervision style for volunteers should remain consistent for all volunteers. A great way to connect volunteers is to make each individual feel like they are an integral part of the team. A service environment with a team atmosphere creates a positive, fun, and united volunteer experience for everyone.