“Connecting you with opportunities to serve” – this purpose truly stands at the core of all of the work undertaken at Greater Cleveland Volunteers. Over the course of my 11-week internship, I have been very fortunate to learn from a dedicated staff that “enriches the community and individuals through volunteer service” each day. The opportunities and collaboration that derive from volunteerism are profound, and Greater Cleveland Volunteers is taking action across Cuyahoga County to ensure that individuals are able engage in service within their communities.
At the beginning of my internship this summer, I was struck by the diverse range of programs and placements that Greater Cleveland Volunteers offers. Through partnerships with more than 100 different organizations, individuals age 18+ are able to volunteer to tutor children and adults, assist the homeless, distribute food at hunger centers, assist patients in hospitals, lead museum tours, and so much more.
In addition to these ongoing or one-time community events, individuals are able to get involved in the My Mentor My Friend program, which provides mentors to students in Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD). The agency also manages the AARP Experience Corps literacy tutoring program for volunteers age 50+, the RSVP program which engages adults age 55+ in service to address critical community needs, and the “Players” volunteer theater troupe. Through the Cleveland Foundation’s Encore Cleveland Initiative, these programs will be expanded. With a personal touch, Greater Cleveland Volunteers’ staff members are committed to matching volunteers with an opportunity that fits their interests, skills and availability, while that they feel supported.
As an intern, I have been involved in many projects related to volunteer recruitment. Through these projects, I realized there are more aspects involved in recruiting than I ever imagined. From my second weekend on, I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to engage with prospective volunteers at community festivals and events throughout the summer. It has been fun to represent Greater Cleveland Volunteers in the community, and it is rewarding whenever you are able to engage in a conversation that allows an individual to find and get involved in something that they care about.
Similarly, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to build an Ambassador Corps of active volunteers that are excited to “spread the word” about Greater Cleveland Volunteers and share their personal experiences. Some of their stories span years of volunteering in multiple roles, and the passion and kindness of the Ambassadors is both contagious and invaluable.
I also helped to develop volunteer recruitment strategies to serve students in CMSD, Euclid and Tremont schools. The effort to engage individuals to serve as literacy tutors with the AARP Foundation Experience Corps has expanded in these areas. With a focus on our new partner schools, my supervisor and I contacted and “walked-about” to churches, small business, senior centers and community centers. These interactions, literature distributions and presentations –along with an updated spreadsheet of outreach sites that Greater Cleveland Volunteers can utilize – should lay the groundwork as recruitment continues.
Overall, I am incredibly grateful for the experience that I have had with the Cleveland Foundation and Greater Cleveland Volunteers this summer. I will continue on as a volunteer through Greater Cleveland Volunteers after my summer internship, and I am happy to connect others with opportunities to serve in the Greater Cleveland community in the future as well.
Stephanie Molnar, a graduate student at Cleveland State University in the Master of Public Administration program, is placed at Greater Cleveland Volunteers. Stephanie creates and implements new volunteer recruitment strategies to serve students in Cleveland Metropolitan School District through Greater Cleveland Volunteers’ existing networks and seeks to engage new volunteers through neighborhood based outreach.