In recent months, our Puppy Program has adopted new terminology for the volunteer positions to simplify language and distinguish our vocabulary from that of rescue organizations (for example, “host” versus “foster”). The program has also formed groups called Puppy Packs and has plans to host a conference for Puppy Program volunteers in the coming months.
The impetus behind these changes is largely due to the Puppy Program Volunteer Advisory Committee, launched in January 2022. The dedicated crew, which currently consists of Katie Cormier, Andrea Weinreb, and Mike Zeckmeister, is tasked to improve volunteer engagement and enhance communications by providing opinions, recommendations, and evaluations to Puppy Program Staff. Training Manager Shenna Lemche, who coordinates the group, says, “They have really been a helpful sounding board,” emphasizing that each member brings different experiences to the table. “We’ve made adjustments based on their honest feedback.”
As a result of their quarterly virtual meetings, in which Volunteer Coordinator Christine Popp also participates, the group has offered input for the structure at our graduations, the volunteer onboarding process, volunteer engagement ideas, and more.
Committee members are asked to serve a minimum of two years, and new applications are being accepted now at email@example.com. The position description notes that members should have been active as a Puppy Program volunteer for at least a year and been a Raiser within the past year, among other requirements. During orientation, they review the organization’s strategic plan, along with various standards, procedures, and content.
Our Client Services Team is also in the process of forming a similar committee for providing feedback on that department’s policies and practices.
Thinking of the volunteer committee, Shenna jokes, “They don’t always agree with me on everything!” However, she states of having this advisory group, “I’m very happy with it! It has enhanced our program a lot. I can’t imagine not having them now.”