Going to the place where they will be functioning helps familiarize them with not only the equipment, but the place and the people. If they participate only once in a while they really don't understand their role and relationship to the agency. They need help in understanding how regular participation is indeed a joint recognition of their worth. After all, if they don't come in regularly to help as help is needed, how can they get to know us; or we, them?
Familiarization has many facets, from learning to use equipment, to what systems do what, to discovering a radio that interferes with the telephone system, or a computer that doesn't work, or a secretary who doesn't know their name; or an agency person who doesn't know there is a RACES unit. Or an Amateur who is an unrepresentative example of those who DO participate on a professional level.
Communications reserve participants need to become a familiar face at the emergency response agency. Help them tackle needed tasks and prove worth - NOW - long before it is needed. Then, when it is needed there will be mutual benefits that all will share. Yes, this may take a change of attitude to accomplish, but humans have that characteristic: we can change!