We are so glad that you have decided to volunteer with Inspiring Together. This handbook is designed to introduce you to Inspiring Together and to provide a basic overview of the practices and procedures which provide guidance and direction.
Much of the information contained here comes from our practices when using volunteers and is informed by the 22 Essential Volunteer Management Practices recommended by The UPS Foundation.
As volunteerism within the organization grows and changes, there may be a need to modify the practices, procedures, and other information described in this handbook. When such changes occur, you will be notified by an announcement or update. It is your responsibility to keep your handbook current and stay informed about practices and changes that affect you. If you have any questions or need any clarification of the information contained in this handbook, please contact our volunteers.
About Inspiring Together
Inspiring Together is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of foster children through tutoring, arts, dance, sports camps and other extracurricular activities. These services are provided free of cost to all foster youths and underprivileged children.
Our primary goal is to operate volunteer-driven, sports camps and other extracurricular activities at no cost to foster youth so they can experience a sense of belonging and feel part of the community they live in. Through community outreach, we develop innovative and effective strategies to grow our base of partnerships and volunteers. By emphasizing the value of charity and community service, we encourage high school students to adopt a healthy sense of compassion and a strong charitable spirit.
At Inspiring Together, we help and serve the children living in Family foster homes, group homes, transition homes and children live in shelter. A child without parental support and protection, placed with a person or family to be cared for, usually by local welfare services or by court order. The foster parent(s) do not have custody, nor is there an adoption, but they are expected to treat the foster child as they would their own in regard to food, housing, clothing and education. Most foster parents are paid by the local government or a state agency on daily basis.
Group homes are residences intended to serve as an alternative to family foster homes. Homes normally house 4 to 12 children in a setting that offers the potential for the full use of community resources, including employment, health care, education, and recreational opportunities. Group homes can be sex specific or co-ed which houses both male and female youth. Youth houses usually houses foster youth between 12 to 18 years old.
The Transition homes provides homeless single parents and their children with stable, safe living accommodations for up to 21 months. The transition homes provides services to help parents young people develop skills necessary to move to independence.
Volunteers are one of the greatest resources we have at Inspiring Together. People like you, who give their time, energy, and talents to provide help and inspire hope, are essential to our ability to deliver quality services. We are committed to creating opportunities for the community to be involved in our work, and many of our programs would not be able to carry out their goals if volunteers were not involved. Our program volunteers and board and committee members are priceless.
Volunteer Engagement Plan
Volunteer engagement is an essential part of the Inspiring Together’ s strategic plan. One of our goals is “to build capacity to integrate, standardize, and optimize the use of volunteers to serve our foster youth clients. By engaging volunteers in direct and indirect service activities, we are able to expand the efforts of our programs and reach more and more foster youths in need.
Our volunteers participate in:
- Online Tutoring for foster child
- Sports camps for kids at group homes/transitional homes
- Other recreational camps for group homes/transitional homes
- providing administrative support
- serving as committee members/board members
- assisting with fundraising events
- aiding with many other programs and projects!
Definition of a Volunteer
You are considered a volunteer if you, without compensation or expectation of compensation beyond reimbursement for volunteer related expenses, perform a service at the direction of and on behalf of the Inspiring Together. This includes participating in program activities or serving on the board of director or a program’s Advisory Committee. As a volunteer, you will be accepted officially and enrolled by the Inspiring Together prior to performance of your tasks.
Inspiring Together is youth run organization with mentorship from adult leaders. Our young leaders are committed to playing a key role in supporting and mentoring foster youth. Inspiring Together welcomes youths above 14 years and family member of the youth to volunteer within our programs and does not discriminate against any volunteer because of race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability.
Classification of Volunteers
Member Volunteers (Regularly Scheduled)
When a volunteer accepts a position with a regular schedule, s/he will be considered an ongoing volunteer after serving consistently for 3 months (or another pre-determined length of assignment, i.e., summer vacation). They will be considered member volunteers when they accept terms or service and pay annual membership dues ($100/year).
Benefits for Member volunteer
- Attend weekly team meetings
- Eligible to be team leader and plan program or event to show leadership skills
- Eligible to run for the office after successful completion of 12 months as a member volunteer
- Eligible to win various Presidential Service Awards
- Recommendation letter from adult board members for collage applications
- Nomination for Youth Service Award
Non Member Volunteers (Seasonal)
Youth who serve as volunteers only once or occasionally in an event situation are considered special event or seasonal volunteers. Examples of this include when someone signs up as a tutor for online tutoring program for 3 months, helps out at a sports camp, or spends an afternoon at an event in foster home. At the end of the semester and the year volunteers are also provided certificate of the volunteer hours if needed. Non-member volunteers are not required to pay any annual dues to the organization.
Volunteer Team Leaders
Volunteer team leaders supervise other student volunteers. For example, the volunteer who coordinates the sports camp is considered a volunteer team leader.
Professional volunteers are those who provide a volunteer service using their license, registration, or certification as required by the profession. These credentials must be current if they are providing that professional skill as a volunteer. For example, legal advisor.
Recruitment and Selection Procedures
Inspiring Together uses a variety of different methods to recruit volunteers. You may find us reaching out to potential volunteers via our website, through social media platforms, and by word of mouth. We also encourage you to let your friends and family know about our volunteering opportunities.
As a volunteer, you will be required to complete the Volunteer Application. If you are participating as a volunteer in a one-time event, you will need to fill out the Special Event Volunteer Contact Sheet, providing us with your contact information, emergency contact information and signing a liability waiver.
Most ongoing volunteer positions require an interview with the Inspiring Together member who will be supervising you. Interviews help volunteers clarify the responsibilities of the opportunity and help student supervisors decide if the prospective volunteer is a good fit.
Volunteer Agreement Form
To document that you have read, understood, and agreed to follow the Inspiring Together volunteer practices and procedures and feel comfortable with the responsibilities of your specific volunteer position, we require you to sign a Volunteer Agreement Form at the beginning of your service.
Aspects of Volunteer Service
All ongoing volunteers will be required to complete an orientation to Inspiring Together. Topics covered during orientation will vary depending on the services volunteer will be serving.
Program Orientation & Training
As a new volunteer, your student program leader will provide you with its own orientation and the necessary training required for your specific volunteer position.
In appropriate situations, corrective action may be taken following an incident or evaluation. Examples of corrective action include the requirement of additional training, re-assignment of a volunteer to a new position, suspension of the volunteer, or dismissal from volunteer service.
Record Maintenance & Volunteer Time Reports
Keeping track of the time given by our volunteers is very important to us. Each program is required to record hours for each individual volunteer and report them to the Coordinator of Volunteer Services on a monthly basis. Some volunteer positions are more independent and require volunteers to keep track of their own hours which they must then report back to their student leader.
As a volunteer, you are an essential part of our program operations. Therefore, we believe it is very important to recognize the time and effort that you put into your service. Recognition opportunities will occur on annual basis, as well as at the program level.
One of the best things you can do for your community is to volunteer, but it’s essential to understand that it comes with the same type of responsibility and etiquette guidelines.
Volunteer with a good attitude. You’ve committed yourself to something that you’re passionate about, so put a smile on your face and show that you want to be there. You and everyone around you will be happier if you have a positive attitude.
Be on time. If you have agreed to be somewhere at a designated time, show up on or before that time. Being late shows a lack of respect for others and can cause unnecessary stress on those who count on you. Follow the rules. Chances are, someone has given you a list of rules, either in writing or verbally.
Do your very best to follow them because they’ve been established for a reason. Do the best job you can. What you do as a volunteer reflects your character and how much you care about the cause. If you find that you have lost your passion, let your student leader know so she can remind you why you were there in the first place or find someone to replace you.
Get along with others. You don’t have to agree with other volunteers or the staff, but you can find a way to get along with everyone. After all, it’s a team that’s supposed to be committed to something worthwhile.
Communicate. If you see something that the volunteer coordinator needs to know about, let her know as soon as possible. Or if you have a better idea for a way to get the work done more efficiently, it will benefit the cause to share your thoughts.
Be discreet. While volunteering, you may see or hear private information that no one else needs to know. Keep it to yourself. Never trash talk or gossip about anyone you come into contact with at the organization.
Drug Free Policy
The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of a controlled substance is not allowed in Inspiring Together program sites. Additionally, volunteers may not be impaired by any substance while serving. Such action may result in your immediate dismissal from the volunteer position.
As a volunteer, you are responsible for presenting a positive image to clients and to the community as a representative of Inspiring Together. You should dress appropriately for the conditions and performance of your duties.
Inspiring Together is committed to creating and maintaining a safe and positive environment for staff and volunteers as well as persons and families we served. Each program will provide volunteers with information on facility safety plans and safety protocols related to the assigned volunteer position.
Inspiring Together is committed to a work environment that is professional and harassment-free for all volunteers. Harassment includes, without limitations, verbal, physical, visual, and innuendo. It also includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact and other verbal or physical conduct, or visual forms of harassment of sexual nature when submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly made a term or is used as the basis for unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment for volunteers. Volunteers should report any issues to their leader.
Personal Involvement with Clients If your volunteer position involves working directly with clients, it is important to maintain boundaries with them and to keep your relationship professional, not personal.
While volunteering for Inspiring Together you have the legal obligation to report:
- Any known or suspected child abuse, neglect or any other behavior placing the health and welfare of children in jeopardy.
- Any known or suspected adult abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Per Inspiring Together policy, volunteers are trained in reporting requirements and associated procedures. It is recommended that volunteers immediately consult with a volunteer student leader when presented with a situation that may warrant a child or adult protective report.
Process to start a new initiative
Member volunteers are encouraged to think out of the box on how to serve foster and unprivileged youths. When you have an idea, you need to present it during our weekly volunteer meeting. At this meeting you will receive feedback from other youth volunteers and our executive leadership. Based upon the feedback please gather additional information as requested. After reviewing the material executive leaders will provide you guidance on the next steps and you will initiate the course of action based upon the decision made by the executive leadership. If at any point the executive leadership feels that we need to end the initiative, you are required to stop all activities for that initiative and return all Inspiring Together material.
Document Version: 1.0
Release Date: July 12, 2020.