Last month, some of our volunteers and staff members met for an Appreciative Inquiry process. Now you may be asking, what is Appreciative Inquiry? No worries, I thought the same thing. Appreciative Inquiry is a brainstorming, collaborating, and planning process that focuses on strengths and successes rather than failures. By utilizing this strengths-based approach, we learn so much about how to better support our volunteers, serve children, and develop our agency. Together, volunteers and staff collaborated on one vision: A CASA for every child who needs one, and constructed a plan to carry out that dream.
So what did our volunteers say about CASA of the TN Heartland? They reported that serving as a CASA volunteer is more flexible than most volunteer opportunities, but it still allows individuals to make a major impact in the life of a child or adolescent. Many volunteers present also commented that our pre-service training was appealing and of high caliber. Finally, our volunteers agreed that our agency has a strong foundation and that our new focus should be recruiting more volunteers to serve the 300+ children on our waiting list.
Next, we discussed how we could make this dream a reality. Overall, the group determined that recruitment was more effective when volunteers themselves speak about their own experience as a CASA. If we build a volunteer community, then our volunteers will feel part of something bigger and really value their participation in CASA. With increased value and participation, our volunteers are more likely to talk about their CASA experience and recruit others to volunteer. With more one-on-one recruitment and volunteer speakers to various community meetings, we can realistically double our volunteer numbers.
As an organization we want to improve our communication with our volunteers, other agencies, and partners. We are making changes to our Facebook, Twitter, newsletters, and website in hopes that these outlets will serve as a catalyst for volunteer development, communication, and community awareness. We want our volunteers to feel a part of something bigger and to easily network with each other. As an agency, we are working on innovative ways to increase our volunteer numbers, serve more children, and create an even bigger impact in our community. For instance, we have expanded our mentorship program and have begun two new outreach opportunities: CASA Panels of Excellence and the CASA Speaker’s Bureau. Read about more changes and ways you can help in our newsletter!