Volunteer Relations at Iskashitaa Refugee Network
NEW VOLUNTEER OUTREACH
Iskashitaa attracts and engages new volunteers through local events and programs that share similar core values of sustainability, environmental preservation, food security, cultural humility, refugee resettlement, and overall passion for community building. Some examples of events where Iskashitaa has tabled and promoted their volunteer opportunities are the Tucson Peace Fair, Edible Tree and Garden Festivals, Interfaith Community Services Empty Bowls, cultural fairs, and Humane Society of Southern Arizona Family Fun Day.
Local partnerships that have sourced new volunteers to Iskashitaa are Arizona Serve (Americorps), RV parks, refugee resettlement agencies, and various academic, extracurricular, and scholars programs at the University of Arizona.
For the 2020-2021 year Iskashitaa was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona for a year subscription to Catchafire volunteer services. Catchafire is a platform that connects nonprofits with highly experienced and skilled professionals to volunteer their talents on remote, capacity building projects. Certain skill sets are recruited by posting desired projects on Iskashitaa’s Catchafire profile.
Volunteers are encouraged to follow Iskashitaa on social media to stay up to date on projects and new volunteer opportunities; posts about upcoming events or relevant educational materials are made every day by the Iskashitaa Social Media Manager. Social media serves as a reminder of Iskashitaa activities while the Iskashitaa website houses the calendar schedule and registration of volunteer opportunities.
APPRECIATION OF VOLUNTEERS
Volunteer efforts are shown appreciation through receiving as much of the gleaned produce as they would like and other food donations at Iskashitaa in addition to receiving public recognition on IRN’s social media.
The basis of volunteer retention comes from saving volunteer information like skillset, interests, and contacts. Through this contact information, volunteers are added to mailing lists to stay informed on Iskashitaa volunteer opportunities. Predominantly, it is important to reach out to volunteers with more opportunities to stay involved.
Volunteers are more likely to continue spending their time with Iskashitaa when they know their impact on the community; it is important for Iskashitaa to communicate that. When volunteers attend an event and their service is needed at another one, reach out to them and always include: A thank you, service impact summary, and the next opportunity.
“Dear FirstName LastName,
Thank you so much for all your help during the prickly pear harvest! Together we harvested 567 pounds of prickly pear fruit which will be juiced and made into our Justice Jams, rather than going to waste. We couldn’t have done this without you!
Next week we could use your help with harvesting pomegranates. You can find all the details and register to participate for that here.”
Refugees receive services from Iskashitaa while also being an integral part of the volunteer base and programming. Because of this, it is important to consider the accessibility of volunteer programming to refugee needs. The more accessible programming is, the more likely refugees are to continue volunteering their time. For example, Iskashitaa gleans are scheduled so they do not interfere with the Pima County ESL classes. Refugee volunteer needs are at the forefront of all volunteer programming with every experience being an opportunity to casually and safely practice English, learn about Tucson, and build relationships with other volunteers and staff.