National Volunteer Week is ‘celebrated’ the second week of April annually. The Circle of Sisterhood Foundation is run ENTIRELY on volunteers and we believe a week, just doesn’t cut it! Karyn Nishimura Sneath is the CEO of NPower, a proud Sigma Kappa and vice-chair of the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation. In her role for the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation, she manages many facets of the hundreds of volunteers that work both directly and indirectly with the organization. During National Volunteer Week, Nishimura Sneath was asked to reflect on the volunteer efforts within the Foundation. Here are her words.
Think back to the first concert you ever attended. You were probably surrounded by thousands of other people who loved your favorite band as much as you did. People were screaming, holding up Bic lighters and singing along because they knew EVERY WORD to every song!
That’s what we want for the Circle of Sisterhood’s volunteer family. We want people to be screaming along with us because they know the statistics and the devastating personal stories of girls and women who suffer because they are denied an education. We want them holding up their metaphorical Bic lighters and telling others about our success stories. We want to work and learn alongside other people who care about these issues as much as we do. In other words, we want, need, and appreciate the amazing people who make up our volunteer family.
The women involved as volunteers aren’t paid; they have intrinsic motivators for joining and contributing. We’re involved because of the desire to help other women and girls. Because of our sorority experiences we’re involved because we believe in and have experienced the benefits of having an education. Our volunteers know the powerful difference we are making in the sorority community and the world!
Ivan Schier wrote the book, Building Staff/Volunteer Relations, and the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation uses his “Windows of Work” model for our volunteers. The windows concept involves four elements to volunteer our time:
1. “Wise Whys”
Why you decided to become a volunteer for this organization. Were you recruited by a specific person? Did you read the book Half the Sky and feel compelled to act? Did you feel emotionally and then literally moved to make a difference for girls and women.
2. Glad Gifts
A Glad Gift is a skill, talent, and preference. This is the area we try to tap first. People who are placed in volunteer roles which come easily and naturally to them are more enjoyable. What are your talents? How can we best tap them?
A Quest is a “Yearn-to-Learn.” This might be a knowledge or skill gap that you don’t currently have but want to develop. How do you want to comfortably stretch yourself?
These are the tasks in our lives that we don’t enjoy but have to do. Maybe it’s mowing the lawn. Maybe it’s helping our child with her math when it’s not our personal best subject. No-No’s are the skills that someone else has, that you appreciate and value because it doesn’t come easily to you. No-No’s are things we don’t enjoy, don’t come naturally to us, and are adverse to. What work do you want to avoid as a volunteer?
As leaders of a very young, dynamic, and flexible organization, the Trustees semi-annually review what’s working and what’s not working with our volunteer team of more than 100 people. We have found that smaller teams focusing on specific tasks and projects are most effective. We have found that many women want to be supportive and involved but don’t necessarily have adequate time to be part of a volunteer team. We will continue to improve the infrastructure to make volunteering, contributing, and donating easy. The leaders will inform our current volunteers of the big and small changes occurring to make that happen.
Thank you all for the money you have donated to improve the lives of girls and women through the gift of education. Thank you for the time you’ve given to strengthen our young foundation. And, thank you for spreading the word to make our humanitarian efforts a reality. Rock on!