Each Job Every Day: Volunteer Coordinators

More than 4,000 people a year volunteer throughout the Fairview system.

From engaging with seniors to visiting patients through home care and hospice and staffing information desks throughout our hospitals, our volunteers—and the work they do—are endlessly diverse.

The one thing that unites them all, though? Our volunteer coordinators.

A small but mighty staff of volunteer coordinators and specialists throughout Fairview help manage, train and recruit that volunteer population.

“Volunteers have various backgrounds and skills, and it is my job to staff the hospital with volunteers to meet our needs,” says Ashley McArdle, volunteer coordinator at Fairview Southdale Hospital. “I think people may underestimate the amount of detail and time it takes to identify the volunteer’s strengths and interests, coordinate their schedule to help meet needs of the different departments and train a volunteer so that they are confident and comfortable in their role.”

Variety of interests

The volunteers range in age from early teens to mid-90s and their interests, and activities they’re involved in, are wide-ranging—not surprising considering Fairivew Southdale Hospital has around 400 active volunteers each year alone.

That variety doesn’t just take place within a single site, however. For Home Care and Hospice volunteer coordinator Claire Vandrovec, it’s all about matching each volunteer with the appropriate hospice patient.

“We need to take into consideration what the patient is looking for, what the volunteer is willing to do, if there are any shared interests, etc.,” says Claire. “We then make the ultimate decision on whether that particular volunteer and patient would be a good match.”

When that match is successful, the reward for the patient, volunteer—and volunteer coordinator—can be magical.

“I personally know how wonderful our volunteers are, but it is so heartwarming to hear it come from our patients and their families,” says Claire. “It shows they are doing a great job and that our patients and their families are satisfied, which is what we are always striving toward.”

A life’s passion

Satisfaction for the volunteer coordinators also comes from the role itself. Many of them volunteer outside of work and are active in their own communities. Throughout college, for instance, Ashley worked as a high school dance team coach, and learned then that she enjoyed working with and helping others.

“This profession is a really great marriage of coach, mentor, HR strategist and manager in a health care setting,” says Ashley.

Working with youth volunteers is a particular passion for Ashley. While some of that ties back to her role as a dance coach, she says it’s also great to watch young volunteers continue their service throughout their high school years.

“It is a very proud moment for me when I can see the life skills a junior volunteer gains from their experience,” says Ashley. “They gain such great communication, problem solving and critical thinking skills which all increase their confidence as a young adult.”

For Claire, seeing those connections happening at the other end of the spectrum—for patients in end of life care—has opened her eyes to the great work that can happen and the comfort that can be given.

“It is truly amazing how much happiness and joy there can be found in hospice,” says Claire. “I am so grateful to work in an environment that reminds me every day how special life is and that every moment of it should be enjoyed and cherished.”

If you are interested in volunteer opportunities at Fairview Health Services, click here for more information.

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