In particular, I recall "business" meetings in which some one would get up to leave for something 'more important' at home or at business only to still be there three hours later. What made the difference? Someone raised a question that captured the intense interest of that person and involuntarily they hung around a 'few moments' that became hours. It was amazing watching them stand at the door on the way out, and still be standing there 30 minutes later, never realizing their intense involvement in some subject that was near and dear to their own interests. It can happen in any group with an understanding leader (facilitator, not boss).
The converse, that of quitting, can be the most frustrating of experiences for them as well. Why do they quit?
Of course, there are very real and explicit reasons: work or home conflict, relocation, health, etc. In addition, there can be a time when a valued volunteer "quits" the program in a way that is a direct "signal" to a program manager that something is amiss with that management.
Unfortunately, few volunteer program managers have the skill or training that enable them to discern that "signal" that all is NOT well with program management. For that reason the remainder of this series will address that aspect.
No matter how well paid staff may think they understand the volunteer, there are extremely few who really do so. Those who do are the real "gems". One such "gem" was Stanly Harter, the first ACS Program Coordinator for the State of California. It was an inherent trait, one that mere experience does not necessarily instill in others. For Stan that innate ability was honed by years of volunteering in the Civil Air Patrol and the Volunteers in Prevention program of California Department of Forestry and others.
When a volunteer is very very good at what he/she does in a program you want to keep them involved in a meaningful and fulfilling way because everyone in the program benefits. The loss of that volunteer invariably causes the overall program to suffer. In fact, it may be almost impossible to replace the loss of the skills, abilities and work of the person who resigned.
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