South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday August 5, 2020
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April 2015 - Volume 11 - Issue 10
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The Rewards of Working with “Networking” Volunteers

One of the things I enjoy most as director of volunteer services at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale is matching volunteers to areas of service about which they can be passionate and providing experiences that may help their future.
 
The latter is certainly the case with a new type of volunteer that I began to see shortly after the economic downturn. In addition to being of service, these volunteers are interested in networking and adding skills that may lead to part- or full-time employment.
 
While the vast majority of the 600 volunteers in our corps are retired, the “networking” volunteer is a growing segment and we are fortunate to have them. Some may be in a transition between jobs and others are students wishing to gain experience.
 
Like all volunteers, those in this segment have specific interests; however, the networking volunteer will often request a specific area of assignment that will add to his or her résumé.
 
It is extremely important to determine if the volunteer and the organization are a good match. I encourage people to call and research organizations before applying to volunteer. For example, while we have volunteers in more than 50 different areas at Holy Cross, we do not assign volunteers to perform coding duties in medical records. Therefore, a volunteer hoping to find employment in coding would be better suited elsewhere.
 
In my experience, the networking volunteers most often request to serve in nursing, research and finance. When assigned to these or other areas, they know that they have the opportunity to display their skills and work ethic while gaining valuable experience. The Holy Cross associates with whom they work are always appreciative of assistance and, in this case, can also evaluate a potential hire.
 
This new type of volunteer brings certain talents to our corps. Many have training and previous experience and they possess a high skill set in computers and customer service. They are also highly motivated to learn and gain experience in the department to which they are assigned.
 
There are disadvantages as well. Although we ask for a minimum commitment of six months, those that view volunteering as a part of the journey to gaining employment here or elsewhere typically will not stay in the volunteer corps for long.
 
At Holy Cross, we have volunteers who have been with us for decades, with some as many as 40 years. The investment of time and resources for a long-term volunteer is clear. In general, it takes a minimum of three weeks to process in a new volunteer. In addition to personal interviews and background checks, all of our volunteers undergo a TB screening and must have a flu shot. The investment in an individual volunteer continues as they are training in their assigned area.
 
Volunteers seeking employment have a shorter time frame and the benefit of adding them to the corps must be evaluated with the diversity they add, the skills they bring, the dedication they offer and the possibility of identifying new hires.
 
While we can never guarantee employment, volunteers have moved into positions in guest relations, transportation and radiology, to name a few.
 
Volunteering can be an important avenue to sharpening skills and finding employment for the individual and it is no less important to the organizations. The entire administration and staff at Holy Cross greatly appreciate all of our volunteers. We could not fulfill our mission or serve our community without their time, talent and energy.

 Abbie Klaits is Director of Volunteer Services at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale and may be reached at (954) 776-3171orAbbie.Klaits@holy-cross.com.

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