How often when sharing stories of weekend activities do people regularly include tales of how much fun they had volunteering with their friends? With Seattle Works Team Works, volunteers gain exposure to different non-profits to give back to the community at least one Saturday each month, while building camaraderie, leadership skills, and memories along the way.
During the summer of 2009, Kim Leary had been trying and considering different avenues for community involvement. Feeling like volunteer teams she was part of could be made even better; she had channeled the vision of being part of a strong awesome volunteer team to start her own. That was the birth of Mr. Miyagi’s Juju, which Kim leads to this day, with several original members, and a significant percentage of returning members each round.
Some secrets to the success of this long-running team are pre-planning, clear communication, and working together. Kim plans in advance for each of the projects that the team will volunteer for monthly at the start of each Team Works round. During the all-team kick-off meetings project logistics, team challenges, and bonus tasks for team member involvement are shared, while sign-up for healthy and unhealthy snack for each event is available.
Along with e-mail reminders, the Mr. Miyagi’s Juju team blog has been a central forum for team communication. Team members sign up in advance for tasks such as pre-project organizational research to educate team members about the non-profit the team will be serving, and post-project recap to reflect on the volunteer experience in photos and words. After each volunteer event the team always congregates near the project site at a pre-planned location for a bite together, and often socialize outside of the once-a-month Saturday volunteer events. “..That people come back to the team session after session really shows that we have built a sense of ‘team,’ and through our volunteer work have become more than just people who meet up once a month, but actually friends,” Kim reflects.
An additional bonus is that several of the team members are able to request volunteer hour gift match from their employer to Seattle Works. Many companies will donate dollars to a non-profit once enough hours are accumulated and logged during the current year. All volunteers are encouraged to check with their company gift match policy frequently for updated information on their volunteer hours.
– Becky Chen, team member and volunteer on Mr. Miyagi’s Juju