Member Spotlight

 

 Sara Curtis
Volunteer Coordinator
ACCESS, Inc.
 
Who is Sara Curtis?
I live in Wayne County with my husband, son, our 3 dogs, 4 cats, goldfish and hermit crab. We live out in the country and love being outside. I enjoy CrossFit, hiking, and camping with my family.  I have a master’s degree in Public Administration and I also have my CVA.
 
Tell us about the work you do.
I am the Volunteer Coordinator at ACCESS, Inc. a homeless shelter for women & children in Akron. I recently transitioned to this role from another organization and have been here for about 2.5 months, although I have worked in some sort of volunteer administration role for the last 9 years.
The mission of ACCESS is to empower homeless women, and the volunteer program is aimed at supporting that. We are currently working to create a structured, formal program and have about 11 volunteers that participate with us regularly, several groups with work with on a regular basis, and some open volunteer drop-ins.
 
Tell us something about you that most people may not know about you?
I have an associate degree in Dairy Science from OSU/ATI, a bachelor’s in Biology with a specialization in Zoology and a minor in Chemistry.
 
What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?
Meeting and building relationships with such diverse people. The stories and experiences that you pick up from the volunteers are amazing!
 
What is the most important thing you have learned over the past 5 years?
Everybody experiences your organization differently, tailor the experience to each individual. Flexibility is key- scheduling, assignment, even the level of interaction. I’ve learned to know each volunteer as an individual and to make the effort to learn what the volunteer role means to them, so I know how to best engage and appreciate them.What three are your hope for volunteer engagement
My 3 hopes for volunteer engagement- big picture:
  1. Recognition of volunteer engagement as a field, one that deserves resources
  2. Collaboration and exchange of best practices and strategies on a national level- that is easy for all engagement leaders to access
  3. An improved system for letting engagement leaders know what development opportunities are available for them.
My 3 hopes for volunteer engagement in my organization:
1.)    Increase the number of community members engaged to hopefully cultivate new volunteers & donors
2.)    Show the volunteers that we appreciate them and that they are a part of our team
3.)    Help our staff learn how to engage successfully with the volunteers
 
What do you do on your off days?
Spend time with my son, try to get back to nature, and indulge in some self-care to recharge.
 
Where would you like to be 10 years from now?
In 10 years, I still see myself in the volunteer engagement field, although I would like to add in consulting. I love helping programs find areas for improvement and helping them work out a plan to improve.
 
If you had to write a self- help book what would you name it?
‘Get Over It, It’s Not About You’- sometimes as volunteer engagement leaders, we get bogged down on all the things we need to do. When I feel like that I try to actively and purposefully remember that it’s not about me- it’s about the experiences the volunteers, current and future, will take from their participation and share with those around them.
 
Any advice for those working volunteer engagement or those new to it?
When you run across the inevitable occurrence of someone not being a good fit for your organization, sit down with them, talk to them, and help them find another organization that may be a better fit. The volunteer will leave on a good note and can speak positively about their experience with your organization with others who may be a fit.
 
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Get involved with FVA, not just superficially, join a committee, I spent 4 years on the Conference Committee and the relationships and the experience I took from it is something that you won’t get anywhere else!