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The Fairfax Area Agency on Aging (AAA) serves older adults in Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. The goal of the AAA is to improve quality of life and promote independent living for older adults. The agency's programs provide a wide variety of direct aging-related and volunteer placement services.
If you think it's hard to find volunteers for your program, Trina Mayhan-Webb says think again. She believes every volunteer has innate skills to offer your organization. The hard part for volunteer coordinators is to find that skill and make an appropriate match.
"That's what makes us experts in our field," she said.
Mayhan-Webb should know. After more than 15 years recruiting and managing volunteers in Virginia's Fairfax and Prince William counties, Mayhan-Webb was recently recognized with a national award for her most recent job, developing the Cluster Care program as volunteer coordinator for Fairfax Area Agency on Aging.
Mayhan-Webb's program received an Aging Innovations Achievement Award at the 2006 n4a National Conference. Chief among her accomplishments, after just two years, Mayhan-Webb brought the organization's base of active volunteers from zero to 85, with more than 1,000 hours of service.
Cluster Care volunteers help the county's senior and other residents retain their independent lives through assistance with daily needs and social visits. Volunteers help with grocery shopping, transportation, and yard work, for example — all basic stuff that can be challenging for older adults and the disabled.
When she started her new job at Fairfax Area Agency on Aging, Trina Mayhan-Webb had no idea it would be so rewarding, or successful. She cites her care for people in need and her commitment to grow as a manager as the secrets of her success.
"I applied for the job not knowing that it would lead to such great joy," she said. "My title is Social Worker III, and we threw the words 'Volunteer Coordinator' in front of it."
Today Fairfax Area Agency on Aging has a volunteer program for every age, and happily shares its resources with anyone that calls in.
According to Mayhan-Webb, competing for good recruits is a challenge every volunteer coordinator has to overcome, and one with no easy answers. "Every organization needs volunteers," she said. "We are all pulling from the same resources: interfaith groups, schools, newspaper ads."
To help her find great volunteers, Mayhan-Webb relies heavily on VolunteerMatch. At any given moment, the agency has five to ten opportunities listed, and together they account for more than a quarter of Cluster Care's successful referrals. "VolunteerMatch has been a tremendous help to our agency," she said.
And her advice to other volunteer managers who are having trouble finding the right volunteer, today? "Never give up!," she said. "Keep recruiting, retaining, and supporting your volunteers!"
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