Volunteer Recognition Day is observed every year on April 20th as a way to celebrate the people who get involved in their community and promote good causes. At Heading Home, we are so grateful to those who have dedicated their time and energy to helping our organization further its mission of ending homelessness in Boston. Our Development Associate of Community Engagement, Calleigh Leach, has been instrumental in organizing our volunteer efforts for the last year and a half. In the last year alone, we have hosted over 1,000 volunteers for a total of over 3,000 hours of volunteer engagements! To honor Volunteer Recognition Day, we spoke to Calleigh to learn more about volunteers’ instrumental roles at Heading Home. Thank you to those who have volunteered with Heading Home in the past, and if you haven’t yet, read on to learn how to start!
What you would say to all volunteers on National Volunteer Appreciation Day?
I would sincerely thank each and every volunteer for the time, talent, and heart they put into our volunteer engagements. What sets Heading Home volunteers apart is definitely the compassion and empathy they bring to every single project/engagement. Our volunteers don’t just show up, they show up ready to roll up their sleeves and put their whole heart into the task at hand. An hour of a volunteer’s time is estimated to be valued at $31.80, which speaks for itself, but I personally don’t think that even begins to cover the true value of our volunteers. You really can’t put a number on the impact they have on our shelters/congregates, programs, and clients! Thank you, volunteers!
How long have you been the volunteer coordinator at Heading Home? How has the volunteer process changed since you started?
I have had the pleasure of coordinating volunteering for Heading Home for almost a year and a half! I have been very intentional about making sure all our volunteer opportunities are client-centered, with our clients’ best interests always at the forefront. I also worked on continuing to build strong, multidimensional relationships with our volunteer groups so that both volunteers and clients can have impactful experiences.
What’s the best part of your job as a volunteer coordinator?
As part of volunteering, I’m able to spend a lot of time out with families and clients and at the shelters and congregates. I find this to be the best part of the job because I’m able to directly see the impact of volunteering and of Heading Home’s mission overall. I see the kids enjoying the freshly-landscaped backyard volunteers just worked on, the families digging into the hot meal a volunteer just dropped off, and the parents’ sigh of relief walking into their newly outfitted home for the first time after years of homelessness. I get to witness all these small, special moments all the time, and that’s really the best gift.
Do you have a favorite volunteer memory?
It’s very difficult for me to choose just one favorite memory, but I would say some of my top favorite memories have been the final moments of our Up & Out moves. It’s a complicated feeling to witness a family close one chapter of their lives and then open a new, hopeful chapter, all in the span of a few minutes. You see both release of the past and unbridled joy and optimism for the future. It’s an honor to be there alongside the family for this, and something I don’t ever take lightly. It’s really an experience that sticks with you and puts things into perspective.
How do volunteers help further Heading Home’s mission to end homelessness in Boston?
Volunteers are a direct extension of our mission in the truest sense. Every volunteer that steps foot in one of our shelters or congregates, donates a hygiene kit, or writes a Message of Hope, is directly impacting our clients in a way that lasts much longer than just that day. Volunteers and the work they do, help remind our clients that there’s a whole community out there that cares deeply about not only their well-being but about their future goals and dreams as well. Our volunteers help to foster community, provide beautiful spaces, and help set a path for a brighter future ahead.
How should people who want to get involved in volunteering for Heading Home get started?
Anyone interested in volunteering can take the first easy step, and just reach out! We would love to hear from you and get you matched with a volunteer opportunity that’s the perfect fit.